I love children. I have a daughter myself. But I do not appreciate children in my dining room running amok while the parents do nothing. I realize this is not the child’s problem but rather a parenting problem—a lack thereof.
A few days ago six women came into Pacific Grill for lunch. As they walked into the dining room one of the women was on her cell phone. Her un-tethered two-year-old little boy sprinted ahead of her. One of the other women said “just let him run” [!!]
After they were seated, the server had difficulty getting a drink order as the woman was still on her cell jabbering away. The squirmy child did not want to sit in the high-chair provided, and was freed to run around the busy dining room—full of business people having lunch.
The thoughtful mother [sarcasm intended] had brought some nourishing Taco Bell into my dining room to feed the two year old. Later she gave him a toy car to play with—on all fours in a heavy traffic area—zooming the car on the dining room floor, right in the way of the busy servers.
When the food arrived the mother noticed the child had wandered off inside our Private Dining Room [PDR] out of sight beneath the sidewalk. A server, in the bar to pick up a cocktail order, was startled by some loud clanging. She walked to the wine room to see what was the matter? The child had dragged hundreds of dollars worth of red wine from the exposed wine rack, clanging the bottles together so loudly you could hear it throughout the dining room. The mother continued eating her cave-aged gruyère panini seemingly oblivious to the commotion.
This is obviously not the child’s fault—the boy is doing what two-year-old’s do. When the exasperated server at wit’s end came and explained to me what was going on, I immediately went to the woman and politely explained that her child had to be kept seated at the table at all times.
“Oh why… did someone complain?” clueless woman asked me.
She followed me into the wine cellar where the child was loudly banging bottles of red wine together. “This is not McDonald’s Playland,” I explained. “Your child must remain seated at all times, and not disturb my guests.” If the child had broken the wine I would have charged for it.
Can you imagine if the bottles had broken and the child had seriously cut himself?
I mean seriously—some people just don’t get it.
I have had children speed-racing up and down the expensively-upholstered banquettes while a mother watched and encouraged the child. I asked this particular mother to not let her child run on our furniture, and she acted like she was blind and did not see what was going on. Several minutes later a server came to get me and said the child was doing it again. I went to the woman and informed her that if she could not keep her child under control she would have to leave.
First time polite. Second time firm. Third time—you’re out!
I have seen and heard children screaming through the course of an entire meal throwing food onto the carpet. Are these parents deaf or have they just learned to tune them out?
One family allowed their child to draw with crayons all over the dining room wall while they ate dinner and said nothing.
Another recent night, a woman changed her child’s poopy diaper on the banquette in full view of other guests dining. How appetizing! Bet you’re thinking about ordering that chocolate mousse for dessert now right?
I am all for families taking their children out to dinner.
I welcome them.
But please don’t ask my busy Hostess or Host to hold your crying baby while you eat your meal, as happened not too long ago…you are…kidding…right?
The vast majority of families who dine with us are extremely well-behaved. But when the few exceptions start to infringe on the dining experience of my other guests, it is time to remove the child from the room... If a child cannot remain seated through the course of a two hour [or longer] meal, they should not be in the dining room. This is not the place to be bringing toys for tots. My dining room is not a race track. It is not a day care center. Does the sign outside say…Chuck E. Cheese?
The average guest at Pacific Grill spends around $50 or more per person. Some of my clients are additionally spending money for a babysitter to have “date night” away from their own children—and most certainly not to be seated next to someone else’s little monsters having tantrums.
I could belabor the point, and probably have, but I could go on and on with examples like the above.
I am sure you have yourself witnessed some pretty bizarre behavior while dining out. But if any of you reading this have misbehaving little ones while dining out—please realize that you just might be ruining many other people’s night out on the town. One they have saved for. Maybe it is their first time to Pacific Grill or a special anniversary. A first date. A celebration…
So if you need to, please excuse yourself from the dining room for a few minutes until your little one stops crying. You would do no less in a crowded movie theatre that costs $9… wouldn’t you?
Well then, why not when out dining?
And for all the wonderful parents out there that bring your well-behaved little ones into Pacific Grill for dinner--I am not speaking to you! Keep bringing them.
I love turning children on to good food while they are young!