Child-Free Restaurants: Is It A New Thing?

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I read an article today about Old Fisherman’s Grotto in Monterey, California, a restaurant that is trending right now because of its firm policy on children.  To be fair to Old Fisherman’s Grotto, they don’t ban children.  They do, however, not allow strollers, high chairs or noisy, disruptive children.

Their stance on strollers and high chairs, in place since 2009, is that they make it difficult to get in and around tables and grant users full access.

Two years later, in 2011, they chose to ban “difficult children.”  Their definition of difficult children are those that distract or prevent other diners from having a great dining experience.

As can be expected, this “child policy” has been met with mixed reviews.  Some patrons fully support it and go to Old Fisherman’s Grotto exclusively because they know they will not be confronted with crying children.  Others are outraged and feel it’s discriminatory (note: it’s not because they don’t exclude all children.)  Some of the individuals who have taken to Yelp to complain about this policy, interestingly, have never been to the restaurant itself; they are simply offended by the idea and the sign the restaurant posts.

Frankly, I support Old Fisherman’s Grotto.  I’ve been in restaurants where I’ve been subjected to children jumping up and down on “shared” booths, running up and down the restaurant floor, and a variety of crying, screaming and screeching while their parents ignore them.  It’s one thing for this to happen somewhere like McDonald’s – – although I still believe parents should be accountable for their children – – but quite another if you’re at a sit-down restaurant and planning to enjoy a good meal.  Part of what you’re paying for, at least in my opinion, is the ambiance.  Enjoyable ambiance does not include disruptive children (or adults, for that matter.)

Maybe Old Fisherman’s Grotto is doing us a favor by saying that bad behavior should not be tolerated.  Kids will be kids but not every place is appropriate for them and not at every time.  Too many parents today seem indifferent, unwilling or incapable of teaching their children to be considerate to others and acting appropriately.  There also seems to be a disconnect in believing that every place at every time is child-friendly.  Surely I’m not alone in having seen parents with their young children out dining or at the movies at too late an hour.  

What do you think?  Do you support Old Fisherman’s Grotto and its child policy?

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