As a special treat, my husband and I went out to a very expensive restaurant for dinner only to find a couple of preschool age kids seated at the table next to us. Everything was fine while the kids were eating, but once they were done and the adults were sitting around drinking, the kids started to get up and walk around. The one little boy was having fun going to the nearby empty tables and blowing out the candles. The mom rather absentmindedly tried to get him to stop, but her scolding him became an almost bigger nuisance. While it didn’t completely ruin our evening it did leave us feeling frustrated. For us, this was a lot of money to spend on an evening out only to let this happen. What should we do next time to avoid this?
Been there, done that, I sympathize! Call me insensitive, but I’ve been known to ask to be seated away from kids at restaurants. I’ve also seen restaurant managers package up the remaining meal of an unruly family and ask them to leave. Recently, I got to sit through a meal at a chain restaurant with a child next to us that was essentially screaming through the meal. He was soooo disruptive all the guests at the surrounding tables were throwing dirty looks at his parents. They kept trying to get him to quiet down at the table instead of taking him out of the restaurant. Finally, we called for the manager. We explained how another restaurant chain in town had asked the family to leave with their unruly child, but this manager explained that his company didn’t allow him to do that. He was apologetic and recognized the frustration of the surrounding customers, but explained that his hands were tied. Since we complained, he did give us a coupon for a free return visit. Sort of OK, but not the way we’d planned for our evening out.
If you run in to this again your options may be limited but ask to be seated away from children, or ask to move tables if there is one near you who won’t quiet down, and enlist the help of management. They’re there to make your dining experience enjoyable and they certainly want your return business! Your story reminds me of a friend who said she and her husband went to just such an exclusive restaurant with their young daughter in tow, only to see and hear the patrons next to them groan when they were seated nearby. Yet, when those same patrons went to leave they stopped by my friend’s table and complimented them on how well behaved their young daughter was. Hooray for good parenting! I would expect no other from these very involved, attentive parents. Unruly little kids in a restaurant are never the fault of the children; the parents are the ones to blame.
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• What will you do the next time you encounter this problem?
• How can you be proactive instead of reactive?
• How will you adjust your mindset to not let it ruin your evening?