Babies and toddlers in higher end restaurants

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by cronker, May 16, 2016.

  1. cronker

    cronker

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    What are your thoughts? Should guests expect it to be all okay to bring along very young children to a $$$$ restaurant? Ask for chicken nuggets and chips in The French Laundry?
    Complain loudly when their prams don't fit in the dining room at Per Se?

    Personally, I have a great memory of looking after a family at a fine diner. The children were perhaps 7 and 10, and had better etiquette and food knowledge than some customers four times their age.

    I am conflicted sometimes, because I don't think having young children should prevent parents from enjoying a top class dining experience, but when their younglings become distressed it makes other diners enjoy theirs less. And I don't really have time to become the surrogate babysitter for them, and don't appreciate being expected to lose a two top to accomodate their Off Road 4WD pram.

    What say you?
     
  2. panini

    panini

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    I can't remember, but have seen pictures from when I was a baby or toddler with my parents when they went to fine dining restaurants for special occasions. My father told me, it never failed, whenever they were at a restaurant like the Waldorf in NYC, a Chef would come to the table with a special treat just for me and other children, like homemade sherbert. I hear my best pacifier was the heel of a baguette. :>)

      My children were always with us when dining. Things were a little different though, my wife could feed the baby at the table discretely if necessary. Being a Chef, they dined at the finest local restaurants, but they knew how to act. If the baby fussed at all I immediately exited until they relaxed. I can't recall a negative look or comment at all, actually the opposite.

      My children are probably as knowledgeable about food as many Chefs. I taught them to enjoy food, store their knowledge, but never think about going into the industry.
     
  3. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    Not all adult guests in fine dining restaurants are well behaved or know how to act

    Being a young child doesn't automatically equate with being unruly and ill behaved in social situations. As a young child I was taken to fine dining restaurants, but my parents made sure that I was on my good behavior or I was removed and consequences were paid.

    Children should be exposed to a variety of social environments and taught an appreciation and how to act in them. It helps to alleviate the awkwardness that can occur to adults exposed to unfamiliar environments later in life (see first sentence of post).
     
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  4. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    How do you raise kids to act properly when dining in public?

    Instill the manners at home.

    This is accomplished by having everyone sit down around the same surface for dinner (dining room table, kitchen island or backyard picnic table) at least 80% of the time.

    You don't have to be stuffy or use the best china or linen table cloths as the goal is table manners.

    How to use their forks and spoons...chew with mouth closed...modulate their voices.

    Keep the meal fun tho...it grates on me to hear a kid being ragged on at the table.

    mimi
     
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  5. panini

    panini

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    I can't agree more. I think the loss of dining together played a big role in the current disappearance of family values. I was fortunate to be self employed when we started our family. We had dinner together almost every night. No distractions. My wife and I were brought up the same way.

        My only difference was, my family dinners were sort of bipolar. It was always silent in the beginning and by the time the salad was put down at the end it was usually pretty boisterous. As far back as I can remember, I always got about an inch of uncle Tubba's homemade wine in my jelly glass.

      With our family, dinners usually became question and answer time, going both ways. My kids knew how to set and clear a table before they could reach everything. They used a chair.

      When we decided to to go out and grab a bite, our toddlers would take a seat and rearrange the knife, fork, spoon, napkin, etc. correctly.

    Even now, when visiting, they ask, what time is dinner. No matter what they're doing, they make sure they're home on tim

      In high school, if their friends were gathered at the house, everyone sat for dinner. This was totally bizarre for some of their friends. But they always enjoyed it left with a big thank you and a hug.

      Now when I look around, I think, what the hell happened?
     
  6. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    I'm easily annoyed by screaming kids (although I do manage to maintain the veneer of civility).  I'm not sure what the solution is.  Obviously people need to eat and it's probably unreasonable to expect parents to just stay home til the kids are in their teens.  But I am also on the record as saying that the service and atmosphere are as important to me as the food.  Since I work 50-60 hours a week when I do have time off I like to go out for dinner with my brother and just relax.  It harshes my mellow to have to tolerate screaming toddlers.  We make allowances for little kids because they can't really help it but at the same time their parents have some obligation to take responsibility.  Only a narcissistic ass will inflict a wailing infant on a whole restaurant full of people for an hour.
     
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  7. cronker

    cronker

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    In my experience, it's perhaps more frustrating when the parents seem oblivious to their kids running around between tables and wilfully trying to trip up the server carrying hot bowls of soup. They carry on their conversation as though nothing untoward is happening. Perhaps they are so used to it that they just tune out.
    I've been on the receiving end of accusations or rudeness when I have politely asked that parents control their children, and there was a very public spat when a restaurant posted "rules" for parents bringing children to their restaurant on their menu, in my town.
     
  8. chefross

    chefross

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    The days of leaving the kids at home until they are old enough the conduct themselves properly, is long gone.

    In those days parents had a different way of teaching kids manners and patience. 

    Today we'd call it child abuse, but it was very effective back then.../img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif
     
  9. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Yes!

    My namesake stays with us for sometimes weeks at a time.

    This last visit she exhibited some bad habits (picked up from a brother or cousin I s'pose) and my usual threats and time outs were not getting me anywhere.

    So I hauled her *ss into her room and spanked it.

    Eureka!

    Don't know why it took me so long.

    Have had to do it a couple of times since then....all for different reasons.

    She was not repeating the previously punished behavior.

    Take their phone away?

    The game center or satellite tv remote?

    Those are not real punishments IMO.

    I think sometimes we forget by NOT punishing with a method that really gets their attention will in the long run do way more harm than good.

    mimi
     
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  10. panini

    panini

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    @Cronker

    Last post jarred an old memory. I have been annoyed when dining. On one occasion, years ago, we were dining at a supposedly very upscale 'local 5 star' restaurant. ( Mimi, a hangout for the

    HP oil trust fund babies). It was new, never any reservations. Chef friend invited me. I got a change in demeanor when I told them, there were 3, and one was my young son.

      We were seated next to a couple who had three toddlers,all around the same age as my son, maybe a year apart. It was like the mom and dad were wrapped together in saran wrap.

    Totally oblivious of their unruly kids running around the place. At one point, inviting my kid to join them. I remained calm until it was too much. I cleared my throat and spoke to the mom,

    "excuse me, I was just curious if you were aware that your children were with you"? Response: " I'm sorry, what?"

    I ordered an ice cold dessert, my sons favorite, and starters for us. We kinda rushed through them and left. I didn't want to punish my kid, for them. I abridged my reason for leaving with the front end manager, but she knew, I saw her watching it go on.. It never got back to the Chef, who owned the place, because I know he would have called me.

     Now, as an old fart, nothing bothers me, I can tune it out. Heck, I have the ability to tune out my wife and still appear lucid. Like the front end manager, she knows, but doesn't say anything./img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
     
  11. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    I am really divided on this issue.  On the one hand I say "get a babysitter" or go to some place that is, at least, somewhat child friendly.  I know that isn't always a solution but sometimes I think that parents, today, feel that they are entitled to subject everyone to their kids.  You see them at find dining restaurants, bars, etc.  When my daughter was younger, our rule was she didn't go to any place that did not have a children's menu available.  Sorry, but part of me feels that there are places that kids just shouldn't go.  Part of that is the fact that my wife and I did not have ready access to babysitters, so when we would score one we made the best use of it and would hit places that we would never go to with our daughter (who, btw, is very well behaved).  On those rare occasions, when we were kidless, the last thing I want to hear is a whiny kid, or parents trying to get their kids to behave.  Sometimes parents just want some time alone, without having to deal with kids, and higher-end dining establishments should be one of those oasises, as well as bars.

    The other part of this is what parents do when they take their kids to a fine dining restaurant.  It is their responsibility to remove their children if they are misbehaving or making a scene.  I've seen too many parents ignore, or try, unsuccessfully, to placate their kids, only to subject the entire dining room to the disruption.  Personally, I don't care how much you spent on your dinner, be responsible and remove you kid for the sake of the other diners.  It is not your "God-given" right to be dining here so don't act like it is and show some respect for the other patrons.  Don't turn me into the bad guy for nicely asking you to remove your screaming kid.

    Finally, I understand that children should learn how to conduct themselves in restaurants and the only way to really do that is by real world practice, but come on, most cities and larger towns have great, nicer neighborhood places, or mid-scale restaurants and this is the appropriate place to teach these lessons to younger children.  I'm sorry but Per Se, Lutece, Daniel's, and Fleur de Lys is not the place to be teaching your child table manners and the dining experience is lost on them.  IMHO these places are totally inappropriate for any child under the age of 7 or 8.
     
  12. Iceman

    Iceman

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    I generally can't stand kids. I don't want them anywhere I go out to eat. Little kids should all be on an island somewhere far away. People choosing to have kids should be stuck with them at all times. You wanted them ... you keep them.
     
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  13. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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    I think it all depends on how children are educated and taught to behave when in public enviroments. 

    When i am out dining or even when im cooking i admit that i get worried thinking that they could start screaming at any second or start crying, or gag or anything. 

    I have had many pleasant dining experiences and professional job experiences where the children were well behaved, and others well where they were the opposite. 

    My parents would always take me and my sister out to eat. We knew how to act. 

    At a very young age i would go to french restaurants, upscale places, but always aware of my enviroments, and that i should be on my best behavior or else....

    It´s something that i´m thankful for, that my parents taught me and my sister both how to act on the dinner table and how to enjoy a sophisticated meal. Many times as a child my food knowledge even surpassed those of adults. 

    To this day i hate kids menus on restaurants. I think there ridiculous, i´m sure there is something kid friendly on the adult menu the a child would easily enjoy. I always used to eat what my parents ate, i always ordered from the adult menu. The only time i ate burgers and fries at a restaurant was at McD´s ou TGI Fridays. I don´t think its necessary to underestestimate a child nor to think they wouldn´t enjoy the same food as there parents (of course this depends on the childs age, i do agree that a 5-6 year old probably wouldnt enjoy foie gras lol). Sometimes the adults at the restaurant order items off the kids menu....  to eat themselves <_<. 
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2016
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  14. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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     Thats what usually the "or else" was in many families, at least in mine it was. Can´t say it didn´t work though. 
     
  15. panini

    panini

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    When I was a kid, my family was probably viewed as an anomaly when they took us kids out to dine at upscale places. It was the norm and very easy to get a babysitter at the drop of a hat. I consider myself fortunate to have been involved in those experiences.

     Children's behavior started to transition in the 70's. The meaning of the word discipline seemed to get convoluted. It became something negative. I'm not so sure this was a good thing.

       I guess we ware blessed to not recognize it. When we had children, my wife and I just stuck with what we were used to. Maybe both of us being first generation immigrants was a factor, not sure. Discipline was just systematically instructing our children on how to behave. It was never a negative situation. We din't use the reward system, we never used 'time outs', etc.

      It really turns my stomach to see parents in public, especially small children, abusing the word discipline in a negative way by degrading them, spanking, etc.

      Children's brains, in regard to behavior, personalty, environment and most everything,  transition to new locations around the age of 5-6.  Any, truly negative or positive, experiences are ingrained and have a major impact towards how a person goes through life. Some of the time, those experiences are subdued. That's why psychologists and psychiatrist work there way back to this age looking for answers.

      I don't know, maybe we were just lucky with our kids.
     
  16. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    I'm going to make up a sign saying this! I 
     
  17. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    Now THAT's a post that lives up to your name! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/tongue.gif
    Does it work in the CAR? Teach me your WAYS Master!! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif

    No doubt times HAVE changed. In grade school, I pulled a prank at school and got a big paddlin' with a big piece of wood,

    wielded by a huge Rancher/Principal. Today he'd be arrested, sued and awarded a child abuser record for such an act.

    I had 3 kids 18 months apart, took them out to dinner often. If they acted up, (rarely) I threatened a "trip to the car" 

    and they'd snap out of it. Only had to DO it once--after that, just the threat was plenty. They were taught to respect 

    the wishes of those around them.  We'd often get compliments, usually from elderlys, about how well behaved they were. 

    The last 10, 15 years Ive seen a big change, namely a large lack of consideration by the new generation of parents, 

    where their kids are concerned. Their brats can be squalling loud enough to wake the dead, and they seem deaf to it. 

    Maybe they actually ARE now. IN a resaturant I maintained, a woman regularly had lunch there with her two kids, a boy and

    a girl. The boy about 8 yrs old, would get bored, reach over and pull the fire alarm.

    After the third dispatch, it took the Captain threatening a heavy fine next time, to get the owner to do something.

    So rather than speak to the woman, he installed an illegal lock on the alarm pull.

    I hope to heaven they never have a real fire.  For this reason, complaining to the manager rarely works--its a touchy

    issue, especially when youre a party of two, they dont know you, and that family-of-5-menu-items comes in all the time. 

    There's no easy fix here--customers want to enjoy their meal in relative peace, while managers and owners don't want to 

    turn away or discourage business. 
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2016
  18. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    I am, in no way, defending parents that let their kids behave badly in public but part of the issue is our society but it's become hard to discipline kids outside of the privacy of your own home.  It seems like anymore if you yank your kids by the arm, yell at them, or, god forbid, give them a whollup on the butt you have to worry about who is calling child protective services. I'm not talking about beating your kids or abusing them.  I'm talking about the standard discipline that most of us received when we were kids.  While it hasn't stopped me from removing my child from a situation where she was misbehaving, or giving her a pop on the butt, there was always fear of who was watching and might call CPS.  As a father of a girl, I also worried about taking my daughter to the restroom, in public.  I certainly couldn't go into the women's restroom, but it just takes one person who sees me take her into the men's room where she might have accidentally seen some guys privates, and make the call to CPS.  I had one incident where a woman saw me take my 2 1/2 year old daughter into the men's room to use the bathroom.  When I came out, the woman berated me, saying that it was inappropriate for me to take my daughter into the men's room.  After I asked her if I should have accompanied her into the women's restroom, and she snorted in disgust, I told her to mind her own business and asked her how I was damaging my daughter by doing such things even if she saw someone's private parts.  Needless to say, after that I decided to shop somewhere else in case this woman was such a busy body that she might call CPS. Unfortunately, the news is full of stories of good parents that found themselves on the wrong side of CPS and the major problems it has caused for their family.  Is it an excuse for allowing your kids to act like animals?  No, but I do understand, how, for some parents, fears of such things can play a part in why they won't discipline their kids.  While I can relate to those feelings and fears, it doesn't excuse parents for letting their unruly kids ruin others dining experiences.  Remove your child and teach them how to behave.  As someone that works in a jail setting I see the result of parents that don't discipline their kids and teach them there are consequences for behaving badly.  They end up as self-entitled adults that don't think that rules apply to them and they end up in my realm.
     
  19. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    I can stand a lot until you seat a kid in the booth behind me and it starts kicking.

    Not only noise but an unpleasant thump.

    mimi
     
  20. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    Good table manners were taught in our home and automatically translated into a restaurant setting. I don't remember specifically why but it never occurred to me to act up in a restaurant except for knowing that acting up in general was not acceptable behavior. Dad was not bluffing and Mom would be very disappointed. 

         As for others, I have complete sympathy for Pete and not wanting some busybody to call CPS. Surprises me that people don't want unruly children but don't want them to be disciplined either. 

    I guess I don't go out to eat often enough to have encountered this much. I'm not sure how I'll react when I do.