The Huffington Post reported on Tuesday that a Grand Central Pizza, a restaurant in Georgia, had enacted a new “no noisy children” rule in the establishment. Grand Central Pizza has added a note on the bottom of their menu stating:
“Dear all present and future patrons: GCP is proud of its reputation as a family restaurant, a title that we will work to keep. Unfortunately a number of our diners have posted unpleasant experiences because of crying and unsupervised children. To ensure that all diners have an enjoyable lunch or dinner with us we respectfully ask that parents tend to their crying tots outside.”
While the owner insisted that he has nothing against kids and still hopes parents will bring their children to the restaurant, the overwhelming number of complaints led him to introduce this new, formal rule requiring parents to take noisy children outside when dealing with them, instead of in the presence of the other diners.
GCP is not, and probably will not be, the first or last restaurant to institute a rule like this. In late 2010, Olde Salty’s seafood restaurant in North Carolina added a sign to their front window, right next to their menu, stating “Screaming children will not be tolerated!” Owner Brenda Armes explained that she got tired of customers complaining about children who treated the restaurant like their personal playground. Despite her questionably harsh use of language in addressing the issue, Armes has no intention of kicking parents with noisy children out of the restaurant entirely; rather, an employee will tell the parents of noisy children to take them outside to calm them down.
In a more daring move, a Pennsylvania restaurant has instituted a full-on ban on children under the age of six starting last July. According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, "Beginning July 16, 2011 McDain's Restaurant will no longer admit children under 6 years of age," wrote the restaurant in an email to patrons. "We feel that McDain's is not a place for young children. Their volume can't be controlled and many, many times they have disturbed other customers." McDain’s is an upscale restaurant connected to a golf course, with most of the seating near or at the bar, and no children’s menu.
While both GCP and Olde Salty’s has gotten mixed reviews from customers and the media, the numbers say it all: both restaurants have had increased business since instituting their new policy on noisy children. Many patrons at restaurants now have the same attitude towards noisy children in restaurants as they have towards cell phone use and cigarette smoking, according to blogger Ronald Huereca and Yahoo!’s Women’s Lifestyle blog, Shine. While there was once a tolerance for noisy children, people now do not have the patience nor feel it is necessary for their dining experience to be disturbed by parents who do not tend to their children outside of the general dining area. They feel that parents should use their discretion when deciding to take their kids with them to eat, as well as where they choose to eat.
The rise of self-titled “DINK”’s (dual-income-no-kids) can account for this shift as well. Childless couples with sizeable incomes desiring to go out for lunch or dinner have a decreased tolerance for parents who bring their children out to restaurants if their children are at an age where they will be unable to abstain from having a temper tantrum for the duration of a meal.
These reports raise many questions. Will more restaurants institute policies like McDain’s, Olde Salty’s, and GCP? Will the government step in to make an official policy regarding children in restaurants? (There is a law against banning senior citizens from restaurants.) Will other establishments like museums and movie theaters institute policies like this? Will Jewish and Kosher establishments consider these policies despite the larger families it would impact?