Friday Question of the Day – Should all Restaurants be Kid Friendly?

“Dear PoP,

I took both my girls for their birthday dinner at Palena Cafe (the new part) yesterday. One daughter turned one, the other turned seven – it was the seven year olds choice (she loves it.) Anyway, I guess we usually don’t take the one year old so I was surprised when I asked for a high chair, they said they didn’t carry them. So I guess that’s a blatant message that they don’t really want kids eating there. Which is strange because the staff has always been very nice to our kids. The other thing I noticed is that the new cafe part was pretty empty but they tried to seat us in the old area – I said I wanted to be seated in the new area and they obliged but I still left feeling a little like the unwanted guest. On a positive note, they gave both girls lovely desserts and the works but that again leads me back to why they wouldn’t be more kid friendly with the high chairs. And the fact that they really weren’t that packed seems like it would be a nice option for all the young families around (who trust me – eat on the early side and wouldn’t really interfere with the dinner crowd.)”

Hmm, this is an interesting question I’ll throw out to everyone for the Friday Question of the Day – should all restaurants be kid friendly? What exactly does kid friendly mean? Do you think it is ok to bring young kids to a nice restaurant if it is before 8pm? Or should young kids not go to “nice” restaurants no matter the time? Are there different expectations with a “white table cloth” restaurant and a cafe? At what age is it ok take kids to “nice” restaurants? I know we’ve spoken before about folks who’ve been irritated by crying babies in bars – what’s the proper etiquette for restaurants?

197 Comment

  • Not all – I have a one year old, and I get it – we won’t bring her to a ‘nice’ restaurant until she can behave herself.

    Then again, there aren’t any ‘nice’ restaurants in Columbia Heights / Petworth by that definition. Stop whining, take your chipotle, and move on.

    Better question – what’s worse: crying baby because her diaper is wet or crying 30-year-old because his sports team lost?

    Remember – even if you don’t have kids, you were one once – guaranteed.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      I rarely allow myself this indulgence – but hell once every five years is ok – you sound like quite the asshole.

      • Whoa dude, chill. Become a parent and know the stress before being all hip-like! 😉

        I’m with her, but with a different slant, no public outings, including air flights or proper restaurants until at least age ___, b/c otherwise, it’s just ^&**ing nuts to deal with the little ones.

        I know I’m an a-hole! Just think what our kids will be like. Be nice.

      • You go PoP!

      • I mean, I’m not disagreeing with you entirely, but THAT comment is the one that you decided to bestow your once every 5 year asshole award on?

        Do you come here often? I’m pretty sure I’ve said things that are far more deserving.

      • That – really? which aspect of that makes me sound like an asshole?

        Or were you crying over your sports team losing… then I’d get it.

        • I am overwhelmed by your response PoP.
          I just don’t get it.
          What did she/he say that ticked you off and what provoked the violent response.
          Fellow readers I am fully prepared to believe that this response did not come from our PoP but a hacker.
          Completely out of character.

          • You hold an interesting definition of violent.

          • Maybe it was the comment that CH and Petworth don’t have any “nice” restaurants… kind of snobby. (Not that others haven’t critized either neighborhood before on this blog…)

          • @Rice: You know exactly what was meant by ‘violent’. Quit trying to derail the discussion. Substitute the word ‘vehement’, then. Happy? Now go hug your thesaurus (if you have one). Or better yet, USE it.

            @Rosie: I, like a bunch of others here, am puzzled about PoP’s response. Weird and way over the top. Nothing in that comment deserved the ‘asshole’ label, not even taking a tiny pot shot at CH’s restaurant choices. If that’s all it takes to get called an asshole around here, then everybody needs to just grow up, including PoP.

            My suspicion is that PoP has cried in a bar more than once over his team’s loss. Maybe the comment touched a nerve?

        • Prince Of Petworth

          My reaction was a result of a cumulative effect and obviously an overreaction. I know I hate when other people call each other names (even if deserving) so I shouldn’t have done it either. It was a mistake and I apologize.

          For the record, I cried after the Yankees lost the 1995 ALDC to the Mariners. Now I’m a Nationals fans and have no more tears to shed.

      • No need to treat YOUR guests like this, PoP.

  • I don’t have any objections to kids in restaurants, as long as the parents are mindful of the kids and respectful of their fellow patrons when the kids start crying, and crying, and still crying. No one wants to listen to a 16 month old screaming for 5 minutes. Take the kid outside, calm them down, and then return. If all parents did that, then those who aren’t parents would welcome them, and their kids.

    • + 1,000,000,000,000 Well said!

    • I have a 14 month old and a 7 year old step daughter. We have never let kids keep us from eating out and we like to go to nice places sometimes. Of course you can’t expect babies to sit still the entire time so you have to take them outside when they get restless so they don’t disturb others. It’s part of the drill. We also always try to choose a booth in a corner or section of the restaurant where we won’t disturb anyone. What better way to teach your kids how to behave in public than by taking them out in public?

    • ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

  • I have no objection to children in restaurants if the parents act like parents and pay attention to their child’s level of maturity. It doesn’t matter if it’s before or after 8pm. If the kid starts screaming, take them out and comfort them until they stop. Don’t let them run around like little maniacs and throw food all over the floor. It is not cute nor is it pleasant for the staff and there should be a special place in hell for parents who keep their obviously exhausted babies and preschoolers out past 9pm.

    • Restaurants should cater to families, and most do, even the “nice” ones. But parents need to be exercising good judgment. Our kid is just 2 now and is basically only up for quick dinners at places like CHIX. Or brunch anywhere with pancakes.

      Other kids are different. My wife and I got a sitter and went to Black Salt (so good) on Saturday. 8:30 reservation. There was a perfectly behaved 3 or 4 year old across the room until almost 10:00.

      • Restaurant should cater to their CUSTOMERS, not just families. Most customers don’t want to hear your poorly raised hellspawn bawling because Black Salt doesn’t have kraft mac and cheese.

        Ideal restaurant: You get 1 minute to calm your child down or take it outside. If you take longer, the waiter brings you your bill and your meal in a to go box.

        Reality: Idiot parents who think that being able to get pregnant makes them special get outraged at the thought that someone might not want to hear their precious snowflake screaming at 180 Db.

        • I think I love you, whoever you are.

        • from OSHA website


          150 dB = fireworks at 3 feet

          140 dB = firearms, jet engine

          130 dB = jackhammer

          120 dB = jet plane takeoff, siren

          Most restaurants in DC are too loud for a fussy kid to even be noticed anyway, but trust me — I take my kid out as needed for her sake — not yours.

          maybe you deserve a special recognition by PoP too

          • “Most restaurants in DC are too loud for a fussy kid to even be noticed anyway”

            Another delusional parent. “What noise? I don’t hear any noise? oh, that. She’s just a little fussy today. That’s not noise.”

            Everyone who is not the parent of your child notices, amiga. And it’s exactly your perception issues that cause the owners and staff of nicer restaurants to cringe when people with kids under age 8 or 9 show up for dinner.

          • Dad here AMIGO … and my kid’s been eating out since she was a month old without incidence or drama. In fact, I’m heartened to know that someone like you will instinctively be bothered by her presence and I’m a little disappointed that she doesn’t cause the disruption you claim I’m oblivious to.

            I was mostly commenting on the absurd hyperbole — 180 db would be incompatable with anything but ruptured ear drums.

          • Ok, well it’s nice that you took the time to look up proper decibel measure and totally miss the point.

            But really — parents are always guilty of this — you adjust your hearing because you’re used to your kid. Others are not. It’s loud, we promise.

          • Loud compared to what? Gregarious adults, ridiculous cacophony in many places, or just generally vibrant busy gathering places (btw Jose Andres LOVES kids in his joints, even if Minibar is not really a kid oriented experience). I never realized restaurants were austere places like mausoleums or funerals. People make noise of all degrees — if you’d like a quiet evening at home stay at home, and feel free to use the time to remove the stick from your ass, which nobody wants to see.

            Then again, my kid genuinely isn’t disruptive despite what some anonymous blog commenting whiners say to the contrary.

  • if they make a mess, a spectacle, or noise, you need to remove them. otherwise, who cares. of course it’s impossible for a 1-year old not to do one of those 3, so leave them at home and save everyone the trouble

  • I think the interesting question is whether it is appropriate for restaurants to — as seems the case here — discourage patrons with children. I (a single guy without kids) am totally fine with an owner’s decision this way. I can understand, though, why parents may be frustrated if they feel unwanted when they bring their children with them.

    Ideally the market wins here. If parents bringing children comprise enough of the market (and they surely do in many areas of DC — i.e. parts of suburbia, if not in Cleveland Park), restaurant owners will have substantial incentives to accommodate. In contrast, if folks like me who’d likely prefer kid-free restaurants comprise the majority of clientèle, then I imagine that will exert a pressure on the restaurant.

    So, to answer POP’s query — “should all restaurants be kid friendly?”– I’d say, no, restaurant owner’s reaction to the market will dictate. So some restaurants will be kid-friendly. Others won’t. Ideally there will be a mix of both.

    • Thought of commenting with my own thoughts until I read yours. Nail on the head. What was interesting to me is how people begin to create their own question from the one asked and then answer that one. But I agree, demand dictates and there should be no expectation or “requirement” of restaurants to do anything other than serve great food 😉

    • Emmaleigh504

      totally agree

  • Your seven year old’s favorite restaurant is Palena?????

    Right after you asked her if she wanted Barbi’s or Bratz did you ask her if she wanted Pate Campagne or Ribollita?


    • +1 srsly!
      What did she think of the lobster pate?

      Strange that people forget that they were once kids. Strange that they hate them. Agree. How far removed. But that said, whenever I’ve taken kids into places and they start crying, time to go! Poorly behaved kids and parents who don’t know how to tend to them are annoying, but = adults who cut themselves off from other generations give me the creeps too.

      • saf

        “Strange that people forget that they were once kids.”

        I have not forgotten being a kid. And one of the things I remember is that if I did not behave, I went home and went to my room.

        I also remember babysitters.

        I also remember being told, “No, that’s for grownups.”

        Kids are kids, adults are adults. Sometimes they mix, sometimes they don’t. That’s good. Not everything should be for everybody.

        • “I have not forgotten being a kid.”

          Nor have I. As a kid, I never felt the need to scream and run around and carry on. I was always sitting quietly, listening to the adult’s conversation or perhaps engaged in a book or sketching pictures. But then there are the kids that have way too much energy and can’t stay still. I don’t think children should be banned from restaurants– it actually make me smile to see well-behaved kids in grown-up places– but the parents should do a better job of evaluating whether their kid honestly has the temperment to be in a certain environment.

          I don’t think restaurants should feel obliged to have high chairs on hand, especially if it’s a small restaurant that may not have the space to be storing these things and setting them up. I also don’t think kid’s menus are necessary (although it’s nice if the restaurant offers to make smaller-sized versions of whatever’s on the adult menu).

  • As a father of four kids, now young adults, I wish I could demand that every restaurant be kid friendly. But I can’t, because while we tried very hard to be considerate too many parents nowadays think their kids are the Christ Child and have no regard for other restaurant patrons who are paying good money for a nice meal. Memo to parents: most kids are cute only to you.

    • me

      Agreed, though I don’t have any children (yet). My husband and I are having that discussion now. I don’t like children, but I hear that it changes once you have your own. I’m not a fan of sitting next to children- I had an experience at a fairly empty Sunday brunch this weekend where the parents let their 4 kids yell and run around and I wish I could have said something. But I do feel bad that parents may not have the choice to go to a restaurant they want to go to because they don’t cater to children. I would like to hope that when I do have kids, they will *not* be running around and yelling. If so, then we’re outta there. Hell, I’d be embarrassed. But some parents just don’t get it.

      • saf

        “But I do feel bad that parents may not have the choice to go to a restaurant they want to go to because they don’t cater to children.”


      • WHY are you considering having children if you don’t like them? And WHY are you just now having that conversation with the person to whom you are married? People, please! I implore you! Stop the insanity. Stop having babies just because you can. We do not have a shortage. The only reason anyone should have a baby is if they just can’t live without one, they want one so bad they can’t see, and they promisepromisepromise to be the very best parent they can be every single day for the rest of their lives. Have “a discussion” about the Nats or what color to paint the dining room. If you don’t already desperately want a baby, please don’t have one.

  • I think it is entirely acceptable for restaurants not to carry highchairs in an attempt to dissuade patrons from bringing babies. In fact, I appreciate it and wish there were more baby free zones in this world. But children who can behave themselves are another story and I don’t think they should be relegated to the world of fast food.

  • When I leave my lovely offspring at home, I like to go to places populated by others who have done the same. This usually means bars. And that’s ok. I would much rather have the occasional meal interrupted by a child’s noise/mess/exuberance, than see any kind of semi-official restrictions. With every kind of bar imaginable, many with great food, I don’t have any trouble finding kid-free places to eat and drink.
    As for where to go WITH my spawn, Ruby Tuesday’s, of course. Walking distance, things on the walls to look at, friendly patient staff (usually), prices that make you not care so much if they take one bite and are “full”. I never really understood the urge to take one’s young child to the nicer joints. Mama needs to drink her $12 cocktail in peace, you know?

    • I always love your comments! This one was especially funny and I agree with everything you said, even though I don’t have, nor do I want, children.

  • Parents – use your words. When you make a reservation, simply ask “do you have high chairs?” Sometimes it’s a matter of space – the damn things take up room. Also, in the case of Palena – with the enormous work of recently expanding, it wouldn’t be unusual for highchairs to simply have been overlooked.

    Likewise – where you are seated in a restaurant depends on many factors that you are not be aware of – other reservations – trying to evenly distribute the guests into each server’s area so no one waiter is slammed. USE your WORDS – “I was hoping we could sit in the new area? Would that be possible?”

    “The staff has always been very nice to our kids,” and “They gave both girls lovely desserts and the works,” sounds like a very kid-friendly place – what more did you want them to do – give them a pony?

    • The cafe – not the restaurant. They have a 10 burger and fries that last her at least two meals. Get a grip.

    • Was thinking the same thing. The OP’s main complaint seems to be that they weren’t sufficiently catered to. Are they anti-adult because they didn’t give you a nice butt-rub with dinner?

      That the restaurant didn’t have high chairs on hand doesn’t mean they *refuse* to carry high chair or are kid “unfriendly”.

      Please get a grip. The world does not revolve around your children or you perceived societal status.

  • I dont like children. Theyre really annoying. However, much like taxes, rainstorms, and illness – they’re part of life. Sure, I bitch about them (to myself) occasionally – but I’d rather have young parents with young kids as my neighbors more than just about any other demographic group. If that means they’ll be frequenting the same places I do, then so be it.

    But, for the love of god – your stroller that is bigger than my car is NOT a fact of life. Its a monster, worse than the whiniest child, and these things should not be tolerated. I respect your right to own one, but please respect my right to ridicule you privately for having your kid roll around in a stroller with a suspension system that makes Land Rover drivers envious.

    • and by demographic, just to clarify, I didnt mean race.

    • Just want to defend my massive stroller for a minute, because I have the kind you’re privately ridiculing. That stroller lets me walk to Target instead of driving. Or fill up at the farmer’s market, or at Yes. I thought they were kind of ridiculous, too, before I had a baby, but mine makes it so much easier to stay out of the car on the weekends. It’s comfortable enough for my kid that we can go for really long walks instead of driving. It’s stable enough and easy enough to push that I can walk the dog at the same time – one lunge from her isn’t going to topple the whole thing, unlike a lighter-weight, smaller stroller. So they do have their purpose.

      • I still don’t understand why you can’t walk with a normal sized stroller. double-wides should be banned from public spaces; they’re like golf umbrellas on city streets. if you can’t get down a store aisle only taking up half the space, then your stroller is too big. let your daughter lunge and fall and then she won’t lunge anymore.

        • HATE the double-wides!!!

        • I wrote a long response, but then realized: I actually don’t care what you think and I’m not guilty of any of the things you accuse me of, so it’s a waste of time and effort to try to defend myself to someone who’s going to bash me for whatever they’re imagining I do.

          • Well, if it’s not about you, all the better. But you know what? There are *plenty* of people who do exactly what is being bashed here and think nothing of it. Those are the people who feel that using their uterus doubles their rights.

            It’s not you. That’s great. But it sure IS someone else, and they are the one’s being bashed.

        • Soon to be parent here.

          Double wide strollers are unacceptable in urban environments. Get an “in-line” double. They make plenty of them.

          That said, I get the vibe that most of the double wides I see are beleaguered suburbanites visiting friends/relatives in CH – and thus do not have equipment customized to urban living.

          However, understanding that doesn’t stop me from cursing them under my breath during my already crowded Giant shopping runs.


        • Unless you have two small children — what business is it of anyone’s other than the parents? Personally, I’m moer into carriers and space compact strollers, but to each their own

      • I do everything you claim to do, and I have a normal-sized stroller and a backpack.

        I often also carry the kid in a backpack carrier, which is even easier.

        Once the kid is 10+ months, there is really no need for an oversized stroller; to claim otherwise is a delusion.

        • Great, I’m glad that works for you. I have back problems and can’t carry a 35lb 1.5-year-old in a backpack carrier for any length of time, nor can I trust him yet to hold my hand and not bolt into traffic a hundred percent of the time, or to walk all the way to Target and home. I also can’t carry my groceries in a backpack or in regular shopping bags that far. I do what works for me and my family with my larger-than-some but not double-wide stroller.

          I honestly don’t understand why parents, in particular, feel such a need to judge others for doing something differently. Leaving aside the whole kids screaming in restaurants issue (which we also don’t do; he gets removed if he can’t quiet down or sit still), why does anyone care so much about choices that have no effect on you? Like what kind of stroller I or anyone else have. Is it really such an eyesore? Do you really hate having to move aside six extra inches on the sidewalk if a family has decided that a double-wide stroller works best for them? I don’t think I could ever win on this, because I’m “delusional” for using the stroller I have, but you’d probably be calling me a lazy bitch for driving the 5 blocks to Target, which is what I’d have to do otherwise.

          • Just a thought, have you ever thought of just sending your kid to target to go shopping for you?

          • nobody is complaining about things that don’t affect them, I think. my problem comes from people with huge strollers, golf umbrellas, huge suitcases for a weekend trip (I’m looking at you, friends), or otherwise obnoxious things on the small and/or crowded sidewalks. I certainly can sympathize with those that have small kids, but I’ve seen people with gigantor strollers on the metro making everyone’s lives miserable… I’m talking about a parent and toddler taking up the space of 15 adult riders and making it impossible to enter or exit trains. this goes for space in grocery stores too.

            also, it kind of sounds like shopping for you is a real hassle. ever try peapod?

            still though, I don’t understand people that feel the need to carry around 20 gallon diaper bags. hopefully when I have kids, a satchel with a couple diapers, wipeys, and food should be enough. I never understood why people need space for a large dog to fit in those things. simplify, people. simplify.

  • Geez PoP, kinda harsh, especially with some of the major a-hole attitudes copped by others on this site over the past couple years. As a parent in CH, I appreciate being able to take my child to an early, semi-nice dinner, although we don’t do it that often. But my wife and I (and I suspect the majority of other parents in CH and other DC hoods) are very concnerned about not infringing on other folks’ good times and adjust accordingly when our offspring decide they’ve had enough. It’s always a quick walk home for one of us (and an extra drink or two for the one left behind). A little mutual respect goes a long way. And I’m fine with restaurants not catering to kids; we make our choices depending on the particular situation.

  • Can’t one bring a booster seat of one’s own? Is more required that I don’t know about?

    When I meet my designated driver for life and reproduce, I think I’d like to be able to enjoy some mid range restaurants with patio seating and ample tap selections — after the spawn have first been vetted at TGIF like restaurants, of course.

    I think I’ll shoot myself if I become one of those parents who ends up at Dave and Busters with any frequency.

    • Good point — there are portable collapsable booster seats for this purpose . . . there are also crayons (I like the triangular ones that don’t roll off tables), toys, books, games, smartphones etc. to entertain fussy children in just about any setting.

      Parents need to understand and appreciate their kids limits level of tolerance (ie missed naps, off eating schedule) to avoid fussiness. What do the whiney haters on this site do to curb their obvious fussiness?

  • I’ve waited tables at a few restaurants around the city, from pretty casual to somewhat high end, and don’t see why any restaurant can’t make basic accommodations for children. Booster seats and a handful of kid friendly dishes (even off the menu) are really a small and expected part of the many ways in which restaurants provide hospitality. It would be a bit much to expect a restaurant to bend over backwards to cater to kids if it’s not part of the establishment’s core interests. It’s a bit irritating to see parents get incredulous over a lack of a kids’ menu or expect significant changes to be made to a dish to fit their child’s tastes. However, most restaurants want their customers’ needs to be fulfilled and dread having anyone walk out the door, as it is bad for business and bad for their reputation. Most restaurants and their staff should be well aware of what they can do to accommodate their younger clientele, as it rarely involves anything out of the way or over the top.

    I’m in my mid twenties and the concept of parenthood still seems incredibly foreign to me. Interacting with children doesn’t come naturally. If I get a table at which there are very small children, say under the age of three, I only address the adults and don’t draw attention to the fact that there is another person at the table. Sometimes parents seem surprised that I’m not cooing over their child, but I generally don’t dish out flattery for a few extra brownie points. On the other hand, any good server knows that being able to play by ear and interact with any sort of person is an essential tool of the trade, so if the children are a little older I’ll do my best to strike up a conversation and amuse them.

    I’ve found that parents generally are conscious of their children’s behavior and know when to be apologetic, or when to get the bill and head straight home for nap time. Every now and then I’ve had kids do things along the lines of ripping open the entire contents of the sugar caddy and strewing it across the table, but the parents are usually kind enough to leave a few extra dollars in tip, which is certainly appreciated. To be honest, it is a much preferable situation to when an adult accidentally spills a $12 cocktail and then demands the restaurant provide another one for free. When children are disruptive, I usually take it in stride and rely on the parents to discipline them appropriately. It is far more aggravating though, and common, for an adult to behave like an idiot, and to have to hold back whatever choice words I may have for them.

    • Bear

      As a former server, I couldn’t agree with you more. The majority of my customers who came in with their kids were conscientious of the fact that they needed to keep them somewhat under control…and if a meltdown was imminent they generally had the good sense to take them outside or settle the bill and leave. I do like kids so I really didn’t mind waiting on families with small children, most of the time.

      However, there are those parents who let their kids run wild through the restaurant–which is not only annoying, but can be a bit of a hazard when you have servers, bussers, and food runners trying to navigate through a crowded restaurant with trays/plates/drinks in hand.

  • I would only say that, YOU love your kids…that’s awesome. The rest of us on the other hand, not so much.

    Keep your little ones at home. Sometimes, it’s best not to share.

  • In answer to the original question posed in the title of this post:

  • Is it just me or does the OP sound a bit whiny and ungrateful about her experience when taking her 1 and 7 year olds (were there any other adults there?) to one of the top restaurants in DC for their birthdays? She seems to project her own insecurities (blatant message, unwanted visitor) onto the restaurant despite admitting that her daughters always got good service and in this case free desserts and “the works.”

    Maybe she should stay home and eat chicken nuggets and bake them their own cake next year instead of running home and complaining about your perceived diss on a neighborhood blog.

    • +1. I saw nothing that made it sound like thy didn’t want the kids there. The real question, should all restaurants accommodate kids, gets a resounding “no.”. I love kids but don’t understand why parents bring them to inappropriate places, then expect the world to bend over backwards to accommodate. It’s a free market, and if a restaurant doesn’t want to cater specifically to kids, go to a place that does.

    • Roger that. Palena?? Really? Maybe a 7 year-old can manage that pretty well, but everyone should assume a 1 year-old just cannot. Diapers, tantrums, tabletop messes, etc.. A restaurant may choose to accomodate the kid to secure the parent’s business, but it’s perfectly rational, as noted above (let the market decide!) to want to create a grown-up space for grown-ups that is intentionally inhospitable to kids. Or, in the less absolute version of that, if you have an anomalous party come in with a 1 year-old, to shuttle them away from the bulk of the rest of the guests in the new space as a buffer zone. People make plans, sometimes weeks in advance, to go to Palena, and when they get there, they have expectations about what they’re getting. It’s typically not a screaming 1 year-old who is spreading Cheerio mash all over the tabletop.

      I’m not saying this kid did that or even that the OP didn’t do everything she could to fit her party into the reasonable enjoyment of other patrons. But that’s generally what 1 year-olds do. Part of being responsible about your choice to become a parent is to realize that when you walk into a bar/restaurant with a kid, you potentially change the entire dynamic of the place for everybody else.

      (And now — seriously — I’m going to get back to watching my phone in case my wife goes into labor, which should happen any day now. Meaning I won’t be going to Palena until late 2016 at the earliest.)

  • me

    On another note, I have a college acquaintence of mine whose FB status the other was some rant about how the waitress at some restaurant was awful because she didn’t bother saying hi to or start talking to their kid when she greeted them. Their kid is turning one year old next month, mind you. My acquaintence said she didn’t leave a tip because of it. Parents that think that their child needs to be catered to in such a way need to get their head out of their you-know-what.

  • More importantly, how about young adults in the 15-20 range? I run a youth academy for so-called “troubled youth”. These are the kids everyone complains about in metro, or hanging out at Chinatown, etc. I try to show them things to do and take them eating out, but so many places are 21+ in the evening. (we were even denied entry to Ruby Tuesday, and a bowling alley). So how am I suppossed to help them feel like they can be a valuable member of our society if they are constantly being told they are not welcome there??
    (PS many student have shown remarkable improvements, but this issue continues to be a challenge)

    • Places that serve alcohol are 21+ after a certain hour by DC law (I think it’s 8, but it might be 9). Some places will make exceptions when a minor is eating with his or her parents, but unfortunately for your group it isn’t up to restaurants. There are a lot of opportunities for an equally nice experience at lunch or brunch in DC, however. Also, kudos to you for your work with youth in the community!

      • That’s really strange, because I was at the Galactic show last night at 9:30 and there was a small child there very late into the evening with his parents (at least as late as 10 or 10:30). Stumbling drunks and beer-spilling abounded.

        …but forchrissakes don’t let them anywhere near the den of iniquity we call Ruby Tuesdays!

        • I think individual establishments probably bend the rules as they see fit, but it is a huge sticking point when you work in a bar/restaurant and want to stay on the right side of the law. Technically, DC also has a curfew after 10pm for anyone under the age of 18, but it’s far more likely a cop would question a 16 year old alone than a 6 year old with parents.

          That being said, from the perspective of a bartender/server, if it’s late and you’re out at 9:30 club or elsewhere, get a babysitter for safety’s sake. No one is concerned a toddler would drink but the liability would be on the establishment for an accident or injury and it’s one that most places really aren’t willing to take. I’m actually sort of surprised a place like the 9:30 club wouldn’t enforce the law better given the dim lighting, typical crush of people, etc.

      • saf

        “Places that serve alcohol are 21+ after a certain hour by DC law”

        No. They are allowed to be 21+, but they are not required to be.

  • houseintherear

    There is no one solution to this issue.

    My older brother was a polite 75 year old man from birth, and my Mom used to take him everywhere. He was 5 when I came along, and then the family didn’t go to restaurants for a while.

    It depends on the situation, how the parents are able to handle the children and how the children behave in general. The problem comes with parents who cannot accurately gauge their child’s behavior and whether it’s restaurant-appropriate.

  • I don’t know. What does the market say?

  • It’s a slippery slope. If all restaurants start catering to children, where do we draw the line? Should we expect restaurants to start catering to the elderly? The handicapped? To dogs and cats? Small amphibious pets? Our robot servants? There needs to be a line drawn in the sand. As a society, we need to stand up together and exclude children from our public, indoor spaces.

  • I don’t think restaurants SHOULD be kid friendly as a rule.

    I don’t have children or want children, but I do like kids and I don’t mind kids in restaurants if they are well behaved. My nieces have always been taught to behave, bad behavior in a restaurant always meant a trip to the restroom or outside for a good talking to.

    And I just want to say that it isn’t the child really as all children cry, spill stuff, have a tantrum; it’s the parent that refuses to properly socialize the child and handle the situation so that it doesn’t upset other people. Parent’s please keep your child seated, don’t let them make a huge mess of the area (or at least clean it up), if the child cries nonstop take it outside for a while, and for the love of god don’t change the child’s diaper in the eating area (oh you think I haven’t seen this before?!).

  • I like the idea of baby happy hours, like at Wonderland.

    But if/when I have kids, I’m gonna make it easy on myself. I’ll take ’em to Ruby Tuesday or Chili’s or some shit. Someplace where they have a kids menu, and if the kid doesn’t like it, then it won’t cost me a ton (i’ve heard children are kinda pricey anyway).

    I’ll save the nice restaurant for my wife and I while the kid(s) are with a babysitter.

  • I’d say that not every restaurant has to be the best place to take children, but it sounds like this poster was doing everything reasonable like going when not crowded etc. It sounds like the children go out to eat a lot.

  • The idea that all restaurants (especially nicer, upscale restaurants) should be family/kid-friendly is incredibly ridiculous. Think about it…the common guy isn’t going out to an upscale restaurant just because. It’s usually to celebrate something…a birthday, promotion, anniversary, or just a chance for parents to get away from the kids for a night and actually be adults. They shouldn’t have their meals disturbed by kids that are not mature enough to behave themselves. As parents, we should really try to put ourselves in other people’s shoes before we go demanding that the world be kid-friendly.

    My son is 18 months old and I take him out to eat rather often, but I only take him to kid-friendly/appropriate restaurants. When he is old enough and mature enough to act appropriately at a nicer restaurant, then I will take him…otherwise, we’ll stick to kid-friendly places at kid-friendly times.

    • 73 responses and this is the only one that got it right. I have a 2 year old. She is very well behaved. I would never, ever, ever take her to Palena. Not even the cafe. If we take her to a restaurant it is something like the Diner and it’s at on off-peak time. The goal is to be in and out as soon as possible. Two year olds are not meant to sit quietly at a nice restaurant for 60-90 minutes. And when I eat at a nice restaurant, I don’t want some baby screaming or a toddler running around the aisles. Get a babysitter or don’t go. The parents need to take that kid outside instantly but they shouldn’t bring them in the first place since childlike behavior is inevitable for children.

  • The answer is that no one should misbehave, be disruptive, in a public place.
    If you are the parent of a child who can comport himself or herself without disrupting others then there is no problem.
    If it is unclear whether or not such a person can comport oneself appropriately, or if it is known that such a person cannot comport oneself appropriately, then confine yourselves to such establishments that can accommodate you.
    To answer the question directly: not all restaurants should be “kid friendly.”.

  • PoP is reminding me of dcist this morning.

  • Not to put an arbitrary number on it–but places with with $40 or $50 items on the menu are not places you need to take a child. Money’s tight, so my girlfriend and I don’t get to do much fancy dining. The last time we managed to save up for a special occasion-type meal, the food was great, the wine was great, and the service was excellent. The only thing either of us found the least bit objectionable was the family next to us with the whining 9 or 10 year olds who were constantly “falling” out of their chairs, hitting each other, and begging for their PSPs. When their mother finally obliged, the sound was up high enough and their reactions to the games were so “spirited,” it really kind of killed the candlelit romantic (or at least, adult) vibe the restaurant was going for.

    Frankly, the kids were acting more obnoxious than any fall-down drunk (crying over his sports team, or not) who would have been thrown out the back door or even a crappy bar. If I were their parents I would have been embarrassed, but these two seemed not to notice or care. Seeing this, the manager should have stepped in and asked them to control their children or leave. I very rarely have the opportunity to go to the white table cloth places and when I do, it’s only for a special reason. If we wanted video games and screaming kids, we’d go to Chuck-e-cheese, and if you can’t handle your kids, that’s where you belong.

    More to the point of the OP, the world isn’t responsible for accommodating or caring for your child. Not everyone’s going to have a booster seat so you, as the parent, need to figure out how to deal with that. Figure it out before you have your third kid.

    • I like everything that you said, but that last paragraph hits the nail on the head!
      Glad there are still people out there with the right perspective.

  • ah

    There’s a difference between “kid friendly” and “kid accommodating”. Kid friendly is a place like mcdonalds or 2 amys and so on, with crayons and a menu with food options that kids like. The is no reason for every restaurant to be like that.

    Kid accomodating is one that allows kids on their terms more or less. A booster is nice but a special menu isn’t needed. Perhaps they can make a plain pasta or hamburger (if that’s the food style) but otherwise the kid should be willing to eat from the menu or share with parents.

    I have a 7 yo and she’s been eating with us since she was one. First time we ate out w had to package up our food to go because she melted down. But by two she was eating sushi and at four esxargot and generally has been well behaved. Not everyone is so lucky on this but other than pure bias I can’t see why she should be an objectionable patron at any restaurant. And if yo do object go after 8p when most parents have taken their kids home.

    • 2 Amy’s attracts the stroller set, but it’s not that kid friendly — they don’t even have a changing table in the restroom for starters. FWIW it’s no less noisy late at night when there are no kids as it is during the peak kiddie times. Zero difference for those scoring at home.

      The Argonaut, OTOH not only has a changing table, but a stepstool to reach the sink and built-in child toilet seat contraption which is remarkably clever.

  • I don’t think that this is as complicated as many of these comments…

    The answer to the original question is NO.

    If you own a restaurant, you decide the rules for it.
    Whether that means carrying booster seats and having a play room, or having all tall bar stools that only grown people can climb onto.

  • One good example is Two Amy’s, which is very kid-friendly with crayons for drawing on place mats, high chairs, and the like. We used to go there often but then it seemed to be so over-run with kids (and I mean over RUN)even later in the evening when you would expect a more adult crowd, that we started to go elsewhere. But this was our choice. I’m happy that these kids are being exposed to decent food, but I don’t feel the need to be there and watch it happen. There are plenty of other choices in this city.

    • I went to 2 Amys once and will never go back because of the raucous kids there. It was like a Chuckee Cheese for the trust fund crowd.

  • Ugh there are many reasons why I live in the city and not the suburbs, and the absence of strollers and children is one of them. I recently went on a roadtrip and stopped at a restaurant somewhere in Virginia for a quick bite. I soon realized there was something different about this place…we were surrounded by parents with kids of all ages. The infants were crying, the 3 year olds were constantly having to be disciplined by their parents and loudly stomping their toys on the tables, the teenagers were obnoxious, etc. I think there are plenty of parents who show courtesy and know when enough is enough, but at the end of the day kids are kids and many are still going to misbehave. Of course adults are also assholes and misbehave as well, and since many are parents, I don’t trust them enough in the naive hope that they’ll know when to shut their kids down. Cynical perhaps, but true.

    • An asshole is an asshole, regardless of whether not they have kids.

      I’d also note that there are many strollers in the city as well, but the parents that are the most unbearable here are the ones that want the best of both worlds: city living with suburban car-culture conveniences.

  • For grief’s sake, give POP a break. It did seem like a random reaction but everybody has an off day. Or three.

    The answer to the original question – no. Business owners should have the freedom to determine their target market and operate accordingly. And parents can choose not to patronize restaurants that don’t cater to their kids.

    Is the restaurant in question located in Montgomery County? If so, all bets are off and the government should intervene immediately.

  • Im with POP. A restaurant should cater to whoever they want. Its like saying a Chinese restaurant has to cater to people who want grill cheese. Just because a restaurant doesn’t have a high chair doesn’t mean they don’t want kids either. Based on this persons experience it sounds like the staff was very nice and accomodating.
    It sounds like the parent is the one crying.

  • As someone who works at a kid family resturaunt I can tell you that a well behaved child is a dream to wait on. The toddler who smiles and giggles when ever you come over to drop off drinks can totally make a server forget the jerk sitting two tables away. The cute sleeping baby is adorable is a good conversation started with a table. Servers don’t care if a mom or dad has to keep getting up to walk a tired toodler outside to calm down or who takes a fussy baby for a walk around the restaurant to be soothed.

    The poorly behaved kid who’s parents are oblivious will totally ruin a servers night.

    Example: one night I was covering a shift for a server and a small group of parents and kids came in. i sat them at a bigger table closer to the bathroom and door but still in the crowd. About half and hour into their stay 3 of the toddlers started running around the restaurant. After a minute I asked the parents if they minded coraling the kids. One mothers response was, “Oh their fine. They won’t get hurt.” Not knowing how to respond to that I went back to my other tables figuring someone would get up and get the toddlers. No more then 3 minutes later did one of the toddlers come over and stomp on my foot then point and laugh. He proceeded to do this several times. All while one of the little girls was running up and down the stairs. Needless to say that night I was both server and babysitter. Except I made $3 an hour and a 15% tip.

    • That sucks.

      Believe me, I would never let my kids act like that, and a 15% tip is shit. As far as karma goes, take solace in the fact that their kids will also be assholes.

  • Why do parents of young kids always feel entitled to impose the results of their personal life choices on everyone else? YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO SPECIAL RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES JUST BECAUSE YOU DECIDED TO REPRODUCE.

    • where and how are you being victimized?

    • + 1. And to andy, I think Kenyon’s point is that instead of acting entitled, parents should make responsble choices. I would go so far to say the “make good choices” and “control what you can” instead of “acting entitled” applies to about half of the Questions of the Day and other hot topic issues PoP brings up.

    • Why do restaurant-goers always feel entitled to impose their personal preferences on everyone else, even if the owner of the establishment doesn’t care and has made accommodations for family. YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO SPECIAL RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES JUST BECAUSE YOU WERE HUNGRY.

      Look, there’s a lot of childish, selfish behavior being expressed in this thread, and it’s all being done by adults. They are the real problems on BOTH sides of the argument. We have a < 1 year old, take her out probably 1-2 times a week, but we always do it at places that we know will accommodate and early (she gets cranky after 7:00, so the goal is to be home by then). No, these are not always "kid" places, but we have yet to have a problem. Do you have the same issues with people in restaurants doused in perfume/cologne or having load conversations about personal hygiene? Happens all the f*ckin' time, but do you want them banned for these personal life choices? They can be just as annoying as a loud kid.

      Now, parents who let their toddlers run around, f*uck 'em. Take the opportunity to teach your kid that dinner time is sit-down time. They are also the ones who would probably sue the restaurant if a server tripped over them with a hot bowl of soup. Lack of personal responsibility is endemic in this town.

      • bravo. how many of these anti-kid dweebs rush home to gush over their precious doggies? how many feel that it’s okay to let their leashed dog roam back and forth across the sidewalk, taking up way more room than any stroller?

        just because people choose to reproduce does not mean they should be assigned either any special priviledges OR any special degree of emnity.

        kid haters might want to get a grip. young families are integral to the social and financial fabric of society. the kids we have will be paying your social security one day…

        • I love kids. I plan to have them someday. And when I do, I do not expect special accommodation for my choices, whether it be demanding that restaurants stock high-chairs or that my co-workers pick up for my slack at the office when my kids have a snow day.

  • I wish restaurants came with a sign on the door to indicate if they are family friendly or not. If a restaurant doesn’t have high chairs or changing tables, I take it as a sign that they don’t want little children, and that’s fine with me. Even if I’m out with my 4 year old, who doesn’t need either, I would avoid such a place, as I can’t guarantee adult-like behavior from him.

    As for kid friendly menus, I actually prefer it if places don’t have mac and cheese. I can get the 4 year old to choose something different if it’s not available, but if it is, mac and cheese will always be his first choice.

    • Same here – just put a sign out that says “We don’t want breeders here” at the door instead of passive aggressively treating me like a pariah when I walk in with my two kids.

  • Why would you want to bring their kids to a nice restaurant? When my brother and I were little kids my parents took us to eat at places like Ruby Tuesday or Red Lobster. When they wanted to go to a nice restaurant, they got a babysitter. My parents were happier because they got to enjoy a nice meal alone, and my brother and I were happier because we got to eat pizza and play with a fun babysitter instead of having to sit still in a fancy restaurant and eat food we probably wouldn’t like.

    I’ve also had more than one meal ruined by a screaming baby whose parents did nothing, so I am firmly on the side of No, not all restaurants need to be kid-friendly.

  • You decided to have kids, you deal with the consequences. Sorry, that means get a babysitter or don’t go out. Just because you can squeeze out some ilk doesn’t mean we have to listen to it scream.

    My property taxes already pay for your kid’s school, and you get thousands in tax breaks. You already steal from my wallet, so please don’t metaphorically slap me in the face at my favorite restaurant.

    • Another internet tough guy. Love it!

      Hey, can we meet in a dark chat room somewhere, so I can give you a virtual kick in the balls? TTFNA.

      • Suggesting that you keep your kid at home until they can behave themselves is now being tough? Am I e-threatening you if I suggest that if you don’t know how to drive you should stay off the road, or that if you’ve never held a gun before, you should spend some time at the range before you carry it on you?

        How is it being an “internet tough guy” to suggest that if you aren’t mature enough to follow the rules and conventions of a certain place, that you refrain from going there?

    • what’s your favorite restaurant? i’d like to take my kid there, check it out….

  • I have a 1+ year old, and the following is the way I go:

    1. I usually check out a restaurant first to see how easy it would be to bring my kid there (this does not necessarily mean kid-friendly). Is there adequate room in the bathroom for me to change his diaper? This doesn’t mean I need a changing table per se… I’ve done it on the top of the toilet tank as long as it is clean enough. Some places just don’t seem easy enough for me to deal with.

    2. I actually often bring my own portable plastic chair that straps onto a normal chair. It comes with its own tray which minimizes mess and cleanup. Also, some places are small, so even if they have high chairs, they may only have one, and it’s often busted.

    3. I go EARLY; that means 5 or 5:30 (maybe 6). I do this because I know non-kid people like to come around 7 or 8, which also means the wait staff aren’t very busy. To that end, I also look at the menu before I go – you can’t spend 20 minutes deciding with a kid very often. I order when the water comes and ask for the check with the food. If a meltdown does happen, I’m out pretty quickly…. this is also a result of having my kid to myself while my wife is away for extended periods of time. Nothing makes you efficient like parenting solo for 1-2 weeks.

    4. I always emphasize this to friends with kids: tip like a BIG BIG shot. Chances are, you don’t go out with your little one that often. Plus, if your kid is really little, you’re probably just getting what is basically a side dish for him/her or they eat what you eat, so you’re taking up a space that could be used by a full-sized paying patron. Also, you’re probably making a huge mess, and even if you clean it up some, the guys cleaning your table will have to do extra work. Finally, if you plan on coming back, and you tip 25% (or more), believe me, they remember you, will bring out bread when you get there right away, will smile and wave at your kid, etc. Plus, tipping big leaves a good impression with the staff regarding kids, making it easier for the rest of us.

    Also, I would note that Ethiopian restaurants are usually a pretty good place to take a kid; they often have 1-2 chairs if I forget my own, they bring the food quickly, the waitstaff tend to be women who seem to like kids, and the food is already basically in baby format, and we all eat with our hands…

  • Now that it’s way past 9AM and PoP has already posted another item and NOT come back to this post to explain or retract I have to assume that his response, calling a reader an asshole, was actually his response and not an impostor.
    I am thoroughly ashamed of him.
    I also believe he has a drinking problem.
    I believe I shall stop visiting this site for awhile.

    • I will only visit this site before 8pm, before all of the non-parents show up.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      Hahaha, I actually did apologize. But I’d now like to bestow that honorific to you anon. Farewell friend.

      • I always wondered when you’d reach the breaking point with your own commentariat. I try to take 2-3 day “PoP breaks” after every controversial blog post.

      • I’m the guy you called an asshole – and apology accepted. I certainly won’t be leaving the site – that’d be stupid. Well, I can be kind of an asshole because I just called anon 10:47 stupid. Oh well.

        My point above was that we all do stuff that encroaches on other people (e.g, smoking, being stupid, having kids). While we should certainly try to minimize our (or our kids’) obnoxiousness, having kids is different because we’ve all been there before. Even if you’ll never have kids – you were one once. So it is a little different. Not a blanket excuse for being stupid, just a little different.

    • I find this website incredibly useful and informative.
      Suck it anon 10.47 am

  • As the guy who usually posts flamebait comments about taking my kid’s stroller everywhere, I think the answer is clearly no.

    You can take your kids lots of places and you should. Many more places than hipsters and cranky old ladies with nasty looks want to let you. Even places that serve beer in cans to kids with beards are probably fine.

    But there are still places to eat you don’t want to take your kid to.

    I would suggest places where men have to wear suits or the ambiance is complete silence are probably no good for your little kid.

    • +1

      I take mine with me most everywheres like you describe, and let the cranky hipters try to remain unswayed by their excessive cuteness and nice table manners!

  • A “nice” restaurant should only have patrons who are “nice” and well behaved…whatever the age. If a 3 year old can maintain decorum I say it’s okay dine out. What’s more disturbing is that I see more inappropriate behavior from adults than children. Age isn’t the problem as much as manners.

    • +1. There are probably an equal number of rude, loud children and adults. And I’d rather not have any of them in my section.

  • I like to take my kid to places that are already loud and have TVs. We don’t really watch TV at home, so she thinks it’s amazing, and there are lots of people to stare at.

    A place like Nellie’s is perfect, and the food is adequately mediocre. Granted, I’m out of there by 7:30 because I understand it is often more of a pick up scene, but if you tip well, the staff are nice.

    Comet Pizza is also a perfect place, but I have to get there early, so she can watch the looping videos and see the kids running back and forth. After 8pm, Comet becomes more of a singles scene, but by then, we’re home…

  • Someone should start another thread on whether it’s okay to take young kids to movie theaters. Nothing like watching something like Sin City with a three year old screaming and crying behind you!

    • I cried at Sin City, at least in the middle. Oh the horror of Frank Miller pretending to be a filmmaker.

      Seriously? Sin City? Sounds like the parents was an idiot.

      You can only take your kids to an “adult” movie if it is boring because they’ll fall asleep. My parents wouldn’t have taken me to Mad Max (too loud and violent), but they took me to Out of Africa, Chariots of Fire, and Turtle Diary, all adult-themed movies, and I slept through all of them.

      • dude, we never ever ever would even think of a kid in a movie theater. Basically, nobody who can’t shut up and stop moving for two hours straight should be in a theater regardless of age.

        Every time I travel or my kid is away, I’m scheming to get to a theater as I used to watch a movie a week way back when I was in my twenties. Man I’m old.

        • This applies to half of the Metro area’s teenagers as well. I can see your little phone screen light up as you text, dummy-head.

        • I guess it depends on the kid. To be honest, I would never take mine because I know it’s impossible. But, my parents did it with me all the time, but like I said, only really boring ones because I would fall asleep.

          They tell me I did well at movies, but restaurants were terrible apparently, so I never got to go….

          I think the point I was trying to make is to make sure you know what your kid is capable of. Every kid is different.

  • It would be different if Washington, DC were a tourist destination for families, and dependent on tax revenues earned on meals to pay for government services. Since the hospitality industry is not vital to our tax base, ban the kids and families.

    I don’t think me and my kids have different priorities than child-free patrons. I’d like decent service and good food, bring the food quickly. And I don’t want to listen to either whining/crying children, or adults talking loudly on their phone, crying over their sports team, or loudly punctuating their mundane tales with the f-bomb. That’s what my kids want out of a restaurant, too.

  • No, your stupid babies should not be allowed in fine restaurants. They’re animals. I’m there on a date, dropping hundreds of dollars, and if I have to hear your crappy child crying in the corner because it doesn’t want to eat bone marrow or caviar (shocker), I’m likely to go over and jam a fork into it. Take it down to barracks row, please.

    • We don’t need them on Barrack’s Row either.

    • is anybody talking about taking a kid to a restaurant where you would spend hundreds of dollars on one date?

      In how many DC restaurants can you spend $100 per person for two people?

      • you kidding me? appetizers, drinks/bottle, main courses, desserts, tax, and tip? where the hell do you eat?

        • Not where you do, apparently.

          At this rate per person

          Appetizer: $15
          Drinks: $10 X 2
          Meal: $45
          Tip: 20%

          You’re still under $100/person.

          And I think most DC date spots are way, way under that.

          The spots where you spend “hundreds” on a date are pretty rare.

          • Drinks for $10 a piece? $45 for a meal for two people including desserts? what the hell are you talking about?

    • somehow i doubt even the austentacious flash of cash is getting you laid, Dolphin. you sound like a real dick.

      • Well, I see why I eat at better restaurants than you: I learned how to spell.

        And many girls are attracted dicks, thanks.


  • Why is agism okay in this situation?

    • Because it’s appropriate and if you read the comments, it’s about behavior, not age. Unfortunately age and behavior are strongly correlated.

  • Here’s a summary of the 150 comments so far:

    No, not all restaurants should be kid friendly.

  • Isn’t dinner time usually family/communal time. Have we as Americans forgotten the roots of community and what sitting down to dinner actually means? It means spending time with other people and socializing in general, and, god forbid, enjoying it. If that isnt what you want, then just stay the eff home. on both sides.

    • yeah, rookie, and it’s hard to socialize and enjoy food when you have a dumb child screaming in the corner.

      • I want to enjoy the people in MY company, and not the company in other groups. It’s really straightforward.

        • So it’s basically loud or bothersome people that get to you.

        • You know a great place to do that? The comfort of your own home. Now who are we complaining about again?

          • oh yeah. that makes TONS of sense. I’m just saying that if I want to go out for a really nice meal, I don’t want a damn out of control baby/child/monster whatever, messing it up for me.

            I’m not saying all restaurants- I wouldn’t complain at ethiopian joints, ted’s bulletin, some italian joints around the city, etc. etc. – but guess what, if I’m doing a food and wine tasting at palena, going to rasika, cafe atlantico, komi, etc., I’m going for a nice meal, nice ambiance, great service, etc., and not to hear some damn baby/kid crying aloud while sitting in its own piss and crap. Hire a babysitter for the evening. Chain the brat up out front. I do enough already, don’t make me raise your children too.

          • Some of the places you mentioned are so loud I doubt it would matter if a screaming kid was nearby.

      • again, if you can stand the heat…stay in your own kitchen! if you want to be in public, then you have to deal with the public..because guess what, it is just as rude for someone to not discipline their kid as much as it is rude for you to judge that which you know nothing about.

  • I wonder if there is a market for some of these nicer restaurants to offer a monthly family dinner time set aside to encourage families? that way parents could 1) get out of the house without spending 40$ on a babysitter 2) the whole family can’t get some decent food beyond ruby tuesday (no offense to ruby) 3) small kids can start getting some practice on how to behave in a real restaurant and 4) if your kid melts down at least the other parents would understand.
    I bet if Palena etc offered a block of time occassionaly to encourage families with small children it would be really popular. Heck some families might even pay a small fee just for that time slot. Just trying to find compromise. I don’t have kids yet. But I love to eat out and yes I get annoyed by screaming kids. I have huge sympathy though for what my friends pay for babysitters. Plus, I am really happy to actually see families coming back in the city. Without those families and small kids we will NEVER improve DC public schools. Somethng to think about.

  • Wow, there’s a lot of baby hate and stereotypes of crying children. Really sad to see all this anger against kids. And we wonder why education is all messed up… because it seems like people really don’t give a damn about the kids, at least from these comments. Seems a lot of people could care less about the younger members of our society.

    My husband and I tag team if the baby gets fussy, which sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn’t. It’s nice to get out and most people are gracious and kind towards us, as decent people and service industry providers are. I think that’s service 101. If a restaurant wants to be a good restaurant, they’ll take the time to accommodate all customers… and also step in if any cross any boundaries (screaming kid or rude adult). Where did polite society go?

    Also, we’ve successfully taken our baby to a movie… she usually falls asleep and bothers no one. I recommend all the “haters” here to volunteer and get to know some kids so they can gain some experiences with youth who can be very well behaved and interesting if people took the time to know them.

    • I don’t really see any hatred of babies on this thread. I think it’s more annoyance at PARENTS, who presumably are adults and should have learned how to be considerate of others. Babies cry. It’s what they do. But parents can refrain from taking their babies to white tablecloth restaurants where the crying would be disruptive to others.

  • Clearly the answer is for children to be scene and not heard. 🙂

  • What is wrong with our society? Babies (yes, even crying babies) don’t drive people in other societies CRAZY like they do here. Kids are an accepted part of life for EVERYONE in Europe, Central America, South America, Africa (even young single people with entitlement attitudes who live in cities).

    Oh, and they (gasp!) kids live in their cities, too.

    There are more and more kids living in DC now, so if you moved here to get away, better make another plan.

    • There is nothing wrong with America (at least regarding the points made on this topic). I grew up in Western Europe, and the attitudes towards kids in restaurants, churches, etc. is not so very different from here. If kids are old enough and well-behaved, they are welcome most everywhere. If they are small cholicky babies or out-of-control toddlers in public spaces, the parents are looked at with disdain if they don’t remedy the issue immediately.

      • Nonsense. You may have grown up in Western Europe, but have you been a parent with small kids in Western Europe? I have.

        France may be a little more like the US, but Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Spain are so unlike the US it’s shocking. Kids go out to dinner with the family and stay out until late (midnight, 1 am) regularly. It is such as different attitude than the US, I don’t have space here to describe it.

        The bottom line is this: in the US, we believe that age groups should be segregated. In other societies, they don’t.

        • By the same token, would you be okay with your child subjected to constant second hand smoke from other restaurant patrons? Because indoor smoking is prevalent in Western Europe as well.

          Nothing regarding our society’s views on bringing small children to nice restaurants is wrong.

          • Time to renew the old passport and visit again, champ. Most (all?) European countries banned smoking in public venues years ago.

          • What’s “nice?” People on this blog aren’t talking about the Tour D’Argent here. They are talking about regular places in DC. No parent is going to waste their money on an actual “nice” restaurant kid in tow.

  • Definitely late on this one, but there’s nothing I find more romantic than a candlelit $300 dinner with my GF next to a table with a high chair.

    Woooo. Talk about setting the mood.

    But seriously, seems like the OP needs to lighten up a bit. The restaurant certainly did accommodate the children. I think it’s outrageous to assume that a restaurant should provide high chairs for children. Having worked in many I know a lot of them don’t have the room, especially in high rent areas where the option is to have 2 high chairs or another table for two. The restaurant will always go with the other table.

    Other than that it sounds like the restaurant was incredibly kid friendly.

    • I’m a parent, and I know and have known lots of parents, and I’ve never, ever, ever, EVER, met anyone who has EVER taken their baby to a $300 restaurant. Waste of money for the parents because they can’t enjoy themselves.

      So why do all the commentors keep bringing up this straw man argument?

  • OP = flame or worse… a BoBo

  • I think hipsters are loud and obnoxious. Can we ban them from eating out?

  • Ask yourself this: What if your parents were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary and as a gift, you bought them dinner at a fine restaurant. Maybe the place where they first met. They arrive, are seated, order cocktails and appetizers. They hold hands, gaze at each other lovingly, talk about “remember when…” then WAAAAAH! Bang! The child in the party next to them starts to fuss. Then cry. Then kick the table or maybe one of their chairs. The parents try to calm the child, but it continues. Not constantly, but consistently. For an hour. Your parents’ special evening is now ruined because someone didn’t want to get a babysitter. Because someone believed they had the RIGHT to go to a nice restaurant with their kids. Because someone thought everyone should just suck it up and deal with it. Because someone thought “hey, we were all kids at one point so we should all have to put up with other people’s kids.” Really? Think about the costs to other people when your child has a meltdown. Believe it or not, it really isn’t all about you.

    • Again, straw man argument. Has this ever really happened?

      It isn’t all about you? You actually wrote that SERIOUSLY? Every commentor who is bitching about kids in restaurants believes that it IS ALL ABOUT THEM AND NO ONE ELSE!

      • i’m sure it happens every day. yes, i wrote that seriously. and if someone wants to have a nice evening without being disrupted, i don’t believe that is selfish or asking too much.

  • God, this was an amazing bunch of comments. Thanks to everyone for the entertainment. Usually PoP angry threads make me…well …angry. But this one was hilarious. Some amazing quotes from both the pro and anti sides – can I steal some of them for personal use?

    Thanks, Champ(s)!!

  • I think a lesson in interpretation is in order here. It is a defensive tact to assume that because a restaurant doesn’t offer high chairs that the restaurant is anti child. I suppose that if they had high chairs they should also have changing stations or extra baby wipes on hand as well. Eating out is a luxury, as is having kids. If you want to have both perhaps you should have registered for a portable high chair. If you weren’t so lucky to get one ,perhaps you should have called ahead to ask if the establishment provided them. Maybe, stay with me here, they should have called you first, just presuming that you would be eating there so that they could do more for your privileged a$$es. The reality is most restaurants would love your business, and a place like Palena consistently goes above and beyond to take care of every person that walks in the door there, and perhaps you could extend the courtesy of understanding that just because they don’t have high chairs doesn’t mean that you are not welcome.

  • Hi Pop Readers,

    I wrote the original question – more as a comment to Dan rather than a question of the day. To clarify, we ate in the cafe – not in the fine dining restaurant. We went at 5:30 and were out by 6:15 pm. None of the kids had meltdowns and if they did, we would have left immediately. It is absolutely unacceptable to ruin anyone’s meal with a screaming child – agreed.

    Palena was absolutely wonderful as they always are. My question was just that if restaurants don’t have high chairs do they not want kids to dine there. If that’s the case, I understand. I was just curious if that was a message or if there was some other reason. And since it is a cafe with burgers and fries, I was surprised that they didn’t start carrying high chairs when they opened in the bigger section. I appreciated the comments that provided the reasoning why they do and they don’t. And I agree, a restaurant is a private business that is free to make whatever decisions it wants. As for all the completely mean spirited comments, I’m not even sure what to say. There is much more hatred out there than I ever thought especially towards kids, which is so sad and utterly depressing. Please everyone, remember a little civility goes a long way to making the world a better place.

  • But what you said in your first post was: “So I guess that’s a blatant message that they don’t really want kids eating there.” Then in the next breath mentioning how great they were to your kids.

    I think most people were responding more to the sense that clearly came across, whether you intended to or not – that you were offended by some vague hurt, disrespect, whatever etc. because “They don’t have highchairs” (how dare they not!) – That has become the most loathed level of the PoPutariat. People who perceive a problem, but take no action at the time to question or even speak to those immediately involved or responsible, then rush to squeak on PoP about how bad they feel.

    “I was just curious if that was a message or if there was some other reason,” If your were curious, why didn’t you simply ask about it at the time? And it is always annoying when people post things for discussion when all they had to do in the first place was talk to the people involved.

  • You are such an idiot, and I’m sure your parents suck (I mean, they had you). So, if this ever happens to them, as improbable as it seems, I’ll be the first to stand and clap in appreciation of their misery.

  • If you can afford to spend $60 on a meal for a seven year old whose palate is about as refined as a terrier, then you can afford to get a babysitter for your one year old.

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