A Restaurant to Ban Kids Under 6 -- Older Customers Complained About Rowdiness

SittinGrumpy

Guest
By ANNE-MARIE DORNING
July 13, 2011

It hasn't been a banner year for the under-6 set.

Starting July 16, McDain's, a Pittsburgh-area restaurant, will ban children under the age of 6 from its dining area. Restaurant owner Mike Vuick said the policy came in response to complaints he'd received from older customers about kids causing a ruckus. In an email to his clientele, Vuick wrote, "We feel that McDain's is a not a place for young children … and many, many times they have disturbed other customers."

A few weeks ago, Malaysia Airlines announced that it would ban infants from flying in the first-class cabin because other passengers had complained about squalling babies. And last February it was rumored that Virgin Atlantic and British Airways had been pressured to consider child-free zones and even child-free planes to appease business travelers who, according to a travel survey, listed unruly children as their No. 1 travel-related complaint.

So, just when did our precious "pets" become everyone else's pet peeves? Are these bans even legal? Apparently yes. Federal law forbids discrimination on racial or religious grounds, but there is no blanket protection for children. For business owners like Vuick that means they can set the rules.

For his part, Vuick said it's all about keeping his customers happy – the older ones anyway. McDain's is a small restaurant that seats 40 people. It's nestled on a golf course, so it's natural that the casual eatery caters to an older clientele. Vuick said, "We have had lots of older people complaining, and the parents refuse to do anything about their kids' behavior. They just ignore it."

Unruly behavior is exactly what recently infuriated Kristen Johnston of 3rd Rock from the Sun fame. According to the website TMZ, Johnston stalked off an L.A.-bound flight because Nadya Suleman (Octomom) could not or would not control her kids who were acting up in business class.

Christopher Elliott a consumer advocate and author of the syndicated Travel Troubleshooter column, said that although the "kids or no kids" debate on airplanes has been around forever, something has changed. "The way airlines feel about kids has changed. Air travel has gone from being an experience to [something] commoditized. A seat is a seat is a seat. … By and large you're just self-loading cargo, and that includes your children," said Elliott.

In a tough economic climate airlines – like restaurant owners – want to cater to their best clients, which happen to be business travelers, not babies. "The case for getting rid of kids in first class is actually fairly solid. … When you're dealing with lie-flat seats and Champagne, a child is not going to fully appreciate that anyway," said Elliott. But the father of three adds, "I think how a society treats its children is important, and getting rid of kids entirely is a whole different discussion."

Certainly the Pittsburgh-restaurant owner's decision to ban kids has caused a stir online. Moms have been weighing in on various mommy blogs expressing their outrage and insisting that Mike Vuick will likely rue the day he closed his doors to kids. "If said restaurant can afford the loss in money, then go for it. I don't care to go where I'm not welcomed," wrote one commenter on CafeMom.

Perhaps McDain's is taking a page the case of Old Salty's in North Carolina. Last year, the seaside restaurant posted a sign in its front window that read "No screaming children allowed." And shortly thereafter, there was a storm of negative media coverage. So, how's business these days? According to the daytime manager, business has actually increased. "People know they can come in and enjoy their dinners quietly. They always comment on the sign and take pictures and tell us "I love your sign." The only ones who seem to get upset are the ones who don't control their children."
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Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love kids; however, I love this idea more LOL

I wish there were more places doing this, when I sit down at dinner I do not want to hear screaming kids, crying babies or rug rats running the isles. There are restaurants I will not eat at because of children... or should I say parents.
 

Syenite

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Yeah. I've been working in the service industry for almost five years, and people not willing to control their children (as a server) was one of my pet peeves as well. I have no issue with parents bringing in their kids for supper. Mind you, my main problem is not babies, though a screaming baby can be irritating, I can understand that there are times when a baby starts crying and there's nothing you can do to make it stop. But if I was in public and my spawn decided to start screaming it's face off, and I couldn't settle it down, then I would elect to vacate the premises in a relatively speedy fashion. I also understand that sometimes kids do this as well.

I remember once there was a big hockey tournament in the town, and families upon families were coming into town. Now first thing that was irritating is that they figured that they could come in groups of thirty without a reservation and be seated. Then they were irritated because there was a wait for food orders since we'd had no prior warning. Then they were irritated because we weren't going to do billing via hockey numbers so all the kids could sit at the same table. Our system does billing by table, not by hockey numbers. And trying to keep thirty food orders separate going by "99" and "34" via notepad is difficult to do in a speedy fashion. Then we had tables of yelling kids who had just won a hockey game and parents who did nothing to contain their kids from throwing sugar packets and salt and pepper all over the floor, among food, smearing ketchup on the tables and generally making the restaurant a mess. Further more, the children were incredibly rude to the servers. It got to a point were we simply told them not to come back the next time there was a tournament because they weren't welcome. The business is nice but when you lose regular customers because of a table of uncontrolled kids who come in once a year, it's ultimately not worth it.

Another time a family of four came for dinner in our restaurant. I was bar tending at the time, and another server took the table. Later in the evening we noticed someone had puked on the floor (presumably on the way to the bathroom) but there was no way to know who it was, so we got someone to clean it up and continued on with our work. Until the server came over to me and informed me that the mother at the table had asked if she could have a beer pitcher in case her son puked because he wasn't feeling well. A BEER PITCHER. How disgusting! We told her no, that if her child had to get sick that either she should take him home (since their meal was already out anyway, and it's pretty easy to pack stuff up) or take him to the washroom. She failed to mention that he'd already been sick on the floor once.


Parents who don't take care of their children or don't monitor their children simply shouldn't have them. I don't think it's the kids fault, or the babies fault. It is purely negligence on the part of the parent.
 

Mamba

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May 22, 2008
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Parents who don't take care of their children or don't monitor their children simply shouldn't have them. I don't think it's the kids fault, or the babies fault. It is purely negligence on the part of the parent.
Yep 100% agree. Family friendly restaurants and UN-family friendly restaurants should be separated at birth. (Lulz, get it?)

I categorically do not want to hear screaming babies or stupid kids running about and generally behaving like they just escaped from the nearest zoo - when I am having a romantic intimate dinner with my loved one, for example.

However, there is a place for family meals out as well - so I don't think they should ALL ban kids. I think as long as they are clearly signposted as "family friendly restaurants" then really people have no right to complain, as they are saying they allow kids hence you should realise that the kids will be making noise and/or making a pest of themselves.

Unless the kids turn out to be minature anti-christs, then all bets are off.
 

Firestorm

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You need a license to drive, hunt, fish, etc. Why not require a license to breed?

I hate screaming kids when I go out to eat. My kids behave and actually have manners. I don't get why it is so hard for parents to watch their kids and teach them basic manners. Another reason why I hate humanity.
 

Klautermauffen

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Mar 11, 2008
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I hate screaming kids when I go out to eat. My kids behave and actually have manners. I don't get why it is so hard for parents to watch their kids and teach them basic manners. Another reason why I hate humanity.
And this is where I'm torn. I *despise* other people's brats. On the rare occasion we do go out to eat, I'd like to go somewhere that is simultaneously "kid friendly" and yet not "monster/brat/heathen friendly". I get so fucking irritated with the children/parents that it ends up being a completely miserable experience.

Even at the grocery store, I always park myself in the "family friendly" check out line (unless otherwise directed by staff) in deference to those who'd like *not* to be around children of any sort. No matter how long that line may be.. I see it as just one of those things that comes with deciding to spawn and bring said spawn with you to public. Hee hee, I do enjoy ripping some annoyed asshole a new one when they obliviously put themselves in that line and proceed to bitch up a storm about children, though. :cute:

That said, I'm all for banning children from a particular establishment. Why not? It's their business.. and if children aren't part of their market, I fail to see how it's an issue.