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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

No Kids Allowed

It seems like this keeps coming up. First, I posted about separating families on flights, then LZ Granderson popped in with his oh-so-expert opinion on "brats" and their parents, and now a restaurant has banned children under six from dining there.

And I'm still sitting here thinking, can't we all just get along?

Don't get me wrong, I actually have no problem with a restaurant determining that they no longer wish to serve little kids. I won't be eating there, of course, but that's because I have little kids, and they eat where I eat. It wouldn't be out of some battle over principles. Adults deserve their own spaces, too. Just like we parents wouldn't expect to see a group of college kids at the Chuck E. Cheese or a party of bachelorettes at story time on Tuesday morning, adults do not expect to see toddlers running around when they go out for their special snazzy anniversary dinner at the upscale steakhouse in town.

Except I've never seen that happen.

I feel like there's already an unspoken rule that places that serve $30 scallops don't serve children. Am I wrong? I've certainly never experienced a nice adult dinner being interrupted by raucous children. And the upscale places are already leagues above McDain's Restaurant and Golf Center, since they're keeping it classy, allowing their clientele to decide whether or not they should eat at that location. Most people understand their situation and will choose an eatery accordingly. It speaks to the management of such establishments that they can count on their customers to make the correct decision without having to, well, treat them like children and say "no."

In fact, it is not the customers who appear childish in this situation, but owner Mike Vuick, whose decision was fine by me...until he opened his mouth.

"Nothing wrong with babies, but the fact is you can't control their volume," Vuick said. "There may be restaurants that prefer to cater to such things. Not here."

Vuick tries to say his decision is based on noise, to which I reply, don't lie to me. Unless someone is throwing a party for their three year old, or you've lined your walls with toys they can't touch, children don't make any more noise than the people congregating around the bar or the gaggle of guys who walked in to catch the latest sports game.

One of Vuick's customers put it well. "If they're so concerned about noise, what do they plan to do about the loud people at the bar?" Nothing, I would guess, since the problem isn't noise.

If you don't like the vibe of being a family restaurant, that's your business (literally and figuratively) and you are free to do as you choose. No need to couch it in false reasoning.

And the more he talks, the more foolish he looks.

"We've had the ... restaurant for nine [years], and I've noticed in those nine years there are certain parents who can't leave their children at home," Vuick said.

Yes. How about all of us. How about every parent. Leaving the kids home is great. We all love to do it when we get the chance. But four out of five times, you'll find me at the Chilis with my babies. That's kind of how parenting works. Again, we come up against someone who feels that parents think their children walk on gold and should be patted on the head for bad behavior.

Perhaps Mr. Vuick should change his assertion from "kids make too much noise" to "I have this one family who is really giving me grief, and I never really liked kids anyway, so this is a perfect solution." That might be more honest.

Vuick goes on: "You know, their child -- maybe as it should be -- is the center of their universe. But they don't realize it's not the center of the universe."

Looks like he's been reading some LZ Granderson, doesn't it? I almost feel like a chest bump is in order. Also, this is me laughing at "it's." Oh. I see. It does cry sometimes, and it does make trouble, and it is the center of my universe, but as I've said before, I do my best to keep it under control, since regardless of what it is, it certainly isn't an it.

For all of his grandiosity, Vuick may very well have succeeded only in shooting himself in the foot. Because the one thing that stuck out to me in this article was its final paragraph.

"Restaurants cannot ban senior citizens, because they're in a protected class under the law, but there is no law that protects children from being denied service."

I didn't know children weren't a protected class. To be honest, I'd never really given it much thought. But now that I do know, I'm left with the thought that perhaps they should be protected, too. And maybe someone, like my congressperson, should get to work on that. And I'm doubting I'm the only one whose eyes have been opened.

Thank you, Mr. Vuick. If I'm ever in PA, I'll be sure to stop by. Your restaurant sounds like a blast.

Link to news story:


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  1. "Restaurants cannot ban senior citizens, because they're in a protected class under the law, but there is no law that protects children from being denied service."

    Does the law actually define the age for a "senior citizen", or does it just say you can't discriminate based on age? I'm curious about the details. If it's the latter than what he's doing is illegal.

  2. I don't think he should have to ban children, but I have been in the situation where someone else's child made my anniversary dinner a little less special. When Husband and I take the time to find a sitter (which is difficult and it's hard to be away when you're the parent which is also why you can usually find me at the Chili's with my kids) we like to go somewhere we won't be interrupted by children. So we think we pick the right place and every single time there has been a child that is running around the restaurant or screaming because there are no crayons or kids menu. Perhaps it's just where we live, but it is extremely difficult to even go to an upscale restaurant around here and not find children. So while I don't agree with the banning of children, I kind of also see why he felt he should do it. However, his wording is horrible. Maybe he should get a PR guy before he opens his mouth.



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