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Omnivore - 'I'd like to reserve a table without proximity to children'

I don't get it. Apparently, I live in a state of continual disassociation, because I can't recall, in more than 20 years of visiting restaurants several times a week, running into out-of-control children. The issue has come up again in the comments section of my post about Tesoro.

I'm guessing part of the problem is simply perceptual. I'm not a parent, so I'm not around children a lot. When I do run into them in restaurants, racing around the room, I find them entertaining and often ask to take their picture. You know: like zoo animals. My presumption is that many people dine out in part to get away from their kids.

My parents took me to restaurants frequently when I was a kid; my mother loved good food. I don't know that she attempted to cultivate a gourmet's appreciation, but, hey, I ended up writing about food and one of my brothers owns restaurants. I don't recall my parents' practicing any particular behavior to keep me calm. Well, there was the champagne cocktail they ordered regularly for me. Hey, maybe that's the solution. People should get their kids drunk.

If you Google "restaurants children behavior," you'll come up with over 200,000 citations. In fact, ABC news did a piece on the subject just a few weeks ago. A national firestorm occurred after a Chicago restaurateur put a sign on his door that said: "Children of all ages have to behave and use their indoor voices when coming to A Taste of Heaven."

ABC reports this explanation for the national attention the sign produced:

Meanwhile, Ted, a Taste of Heaven patron who gave only his first name, had his own theory to explain the nation-wide debate touched off by the cafe's sign.

"It was kinda groundbreaking," he said. "It's almost taboo. Children definitely are the one thing that you cannot speak against in our society. They are innately good. It's like speaking against nuns. You know what I mean?"

The website ehow.com has a list of tips for restaurant owners, parents and other patrons involved in the war to make children more mannerly. One tip goes like this:

Call the restaurant before you go. Ask whether there are high chairs, crayons and a children's menu. Inquire about their policy for handling noisy, out-of-control children. Explain that you have had bad dining experiences elsewhere because of unruly children. This is also a good time to determine whether the restaurant seems more "child friendly" or more "adult friendly." Depending on the answers to all those questions, you may want to pick a different place to eat.

Read all of the tips here.

(Photo from http://parenting.eharmony.com.)





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