All this talk about McDain’s Restaurant and Golf Center in Monroeville, Pennsylvania announcing a “No children under the age of 6” policy is much ado about nothing. Or so I thought. Then I started to consider my local eating establishments and how I would feel if they instituted similarly overt bans. I realized that I would no longer favour those establishments with my custom.
I am not, in principle, against a business that wishes to gear itself to an adult only audience. One of my favourite resorts in this province is a ‘couples only’ resort. The fact that I won’t see the inside of it again until my daughter is 18 is another issue, but one which I have willingly taken on along with my role as Mommy.
I do not, however, like out and out bans. This whole issue smells of a really badly timed and placed PR trick. Does McDain’s really have such a crisis with younglings invading their establishment with unobservant and negligent parents in tow, that they reasonably felt the need to establish a ban? Is that really the issue here?
It is a slippery slope. Ban kids under 6. What’s next? How about banning all people who only order salad and water and instituting a minimum order for taking up a table (as one restaurant owner has complained to me about)? How about overweight people? How about the dork using his cell phone to have a business meeting, while sitting by himself? No restaurant would ban this guy – probably because he will order a job lot of booze and they can’t afford to. A good restaurant will deal with this offender on a one off basis, potentially losing his business but keeping everyone else’s. A bad restaurant will implement and enforce a cell ban. See the difference?
A private business that does not serve a public role has the right to decide who they want as customers but there are ways in which to accomplish this without being aggressive and unfriendly. Don’t have a kids menu. Don’t have high chairs. Don’t have booster seats. Don’t serve chicken fingers and fries in any format (just because you call it ‘poulet frit à la Française doesn’t make it anything more than plain old fried chicken). While I prefer to dine out with my daughter, I would never, even if I had hired Nanny McPhee herself to babysit, ever give my money to a business that issued a ban on any one. It is just plain wrong.
Now for a different point of view, click here for Allison Killins’ blog post: “Why I am not opposed to kid-free zones”