CA Restaurant’s Policy Bans Crying or Loud Children

We’ve all been there: in a public place with the kids, one second they are fine and the next, they’re bouncing off the walls, throwing a tantrum about who knows what (the joys of toddlerhood) or hitting their sibling for the fun of it. Kids are like ticking time bombs that you never know when they will go off. But despite the risk of them acting poorly despite our best parenting efforts, we venture out with the kids anyways, often going out to eat a meal that mother didn’t have to prepare by herself, for once. As fellow parents, we can see this side of the story.

But one restaurant in California is pointing out the other side of the story, trying to create a specific type of calm atmosphere where kids must be relatively peaceful in order to be allowed to dine there.

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Old Fisherman’s Grotto says they don’t refuse customers with children but their policy tends to deter families with young kids. According to their website, they’ve had the policy on baby gear since 2009 but in 2011, they adopted the portion about loud children in order to “provide an overall enhanced dining experience for guests who frequently dine at the restaurant, by giving them an alternative place to eat on Fisherman’s Wharf that has a quiet atmosphere.”

You know what? I actually don’t mind this at all. Even though I know how hard it is to get a babysitter, even though other people’s kids being loud don’t generally bother me, even though I can see how some would view this is “posted discrimination,” as one Yelp reviewer put it.

In my mind, there are 2 main reasons why this policy doesn’t really matter:

  • The policy is only calling out the tantruming kids and all their bulky crap (strollers, high chairs, boosters), not the majority of kids who are well enough behaved.
  • There are other restaurants!

To my first point, everyone has to admit how annoying it is to try and navigate around big kid gear like strollers that parents have brought into a tight restaurant, or high chairs that stick out and trip you as you walk by (one of the restaurant’s main reason for the first part of the policy). Please note that they don’t ban the essentials, like diaper bags or even infant car seats. And no matter how much of a saint you think you are or how good you are at ignoring loud kids, you have to admit that at least once in your life, you’ve been annoyed with kids at your restaurant. But Old Fisherman’s Grotto in Monterey isn’t banning all kids! Just those out of control ones, which unfortunately, tend to be the little kids. If you can trust yours to not freak out for 45 minutes while you eat, bring them! If they are old enough to be past the loud stage, bring them!

And let’s say your kid decides to be a kid and has an ill-timed melt down. What do you do? Pay for your meal, get it boxed up, and head out. You probably wouldn’t enjoy the rest of your sit down dinner with that going on either!

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To my second point, if you have kids and don’t like their policy, go somewhere else! If you can’t hire a babysitter to go without your kids, but you’re dying for their specific food, call ahead and get an order to go! Then have fun taking the food, and your kids, to the park for a picnic or something. Make the best out of a situation you disagree with.

Or, if you must, don’t give them your patronage. That’s something the owner, Chris Shake, thought of and prepared for when instituting the policy.

Shake told KTVU,

“We have many families who dine with us with their children who are well behaved and understand our policy with respect to other diners. What we have found on those who write negative reviews about our policy are those who have not dined here but become offended by the sign and our policy.”

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View from inside Old Fisherman’s Grotto, photo from their Facebook page

In the end, everyone has different levels of tolerance when it comes to kids and the inevitable noises or messes they make. What I might think is normal, good and “quiet enough” behavior from my kids could be someone else’s personal definition of hell. It’s hard to create the type of atmosphere they want without being so polarizing. Because I’ll tell it like it is–this policy does ban most kids since most kids are loud by nature. So it’s definitely bold. But they are sticking behind their choice, one way or another.

What do you think? Would you eat at a restaurant who imposes this policy?