I really don’t understand why things like this keep happening.
Acclaimed molecular gastronomy chef Grant Achatz caused a stir over the weekend when he took to his Twitter account to ask his followers if a ban on babies was in order at his three-Michelin-starred Chicago eatery Alinea.
The clearly ruffled Achatz paused his dinner service to complain about a couple at his restaurant who brought in an eight-month-old, who promptly started to wail.
“Tbl brings 8mo.Old. It cries. Diners mad,” Achatz tweeted. “Tell ppl no kids? Subject diners 2crying? Ppl take infants 2 plays? Concerts? Hate saying no,but..”
Alinea obviously doesn’t encourage diners to bring their babies — there are no high chairs on site; the baby sat on its mother’s lap — but it doesn’t have a written policy prohibiting their presence.
The establishment uses a ticketing system which requires would-be patrons to reserve, and pay for, their entire meal (minus the drinks) weeks in advance. If something comes up at the last minute, Alinea allows customers to sell their reservations or hand them off to someone else.
Personally, I found Achatz’s tweet extremely reasonable. I would have kicked the couple out, but I’m mean and this has always been one of my pet peeves. Yes, Virginia, there are places you shouldn’t take your children.
The story goes that this couple had made reservations and their babysitter canceled at the last minute so… they should what? If you answered anything that involves taking an 8 month old to Alinea’s consider yourself wrong. I’m also on the fence about refunding their ticket. What if you had tickets to a concert or an Eagles’ game and your car broke down, or you got sick? Would you be entitled to a refund? How would that work? What if you took a baby to the symphony or a play or a movie and the baby started crying? Should you be allowed to stay?
Years ago, when my husband and I were in a wedding (that my back-up sitters (Grandparents!) were also invited) I lined up a string of emergency sitters because we had to be there. Certain events, like dinner at Alinea’s, require back-up plans. And, yes, in the past we’ve had sitters cancel – which meant, if we couldn’t find another sitter, our plans were canceled, as well. That’s the way it goes when you’re a parent.
But this portable child thing is nuts. Know what it also is? 100% unfair to the child and 100% the fault of the parents who place their child in this situation. Not the child’s fault. The parents’ fault. And it’s been happening a lot, and not only at ridiculously expensive restaurants. Even at family/regular restaurants some people aren’t watching their children – most seem to watching their phones. I’ve seen children running around these establishments (which is extremely dangerous given trays of hot coffee/heavy plates, knives, swinging doors, etc.) and going to “visit” other diners. What is up with that behavior? Not everyone thinks your kid is adorable. Hell, not everyone likes kids. I like mine, on occasion , but that doesn’t mean I want to spend every second with them. And if I’m out for an evening (with, or without, my kids) I shouldn’t have to engage with your child (that’s your job).
And when you take your children to public establishments the point is to teach them how to behave at those establishments, and if they don’t behave then you leave. It really is that simple, and I’ve left many family restaurants with doggy bags filled with food that hadn’t yet made it to our table. In fact, we would have the waiter bring the check immediately after we ordered so we could make a quick get-a-way, if necessary. My child’s meltdown was not a group project. My child’s latest knock-knock joke or new Pokemon card was not an open mic night.
The parents who took their 8 month old to Alinea were wrong. The baby was miserable (duh) and so were the rest of the diners. And while it’s sad that their sitter canceled, it wasn’t fair to make other diners suffer. So, I guess I’m voting for the no kids rule.