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Gallagher: No problem with baby ban at posh restaurants

ErGallagher

Erin Gallagher

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Updated: February 20, 2014 6:44AM



When it comes to issue of banning children from fancy restaurants, I think the world has it all wrong.

I don’t think people should be excluded because of their age. Instead, they should be banned because of their behavior.

A sign in all restaurants should read: “If you’re going to cry, scream, bother people or otherwise act a fool, you will be asked to leave.”

The debate arose anew last week when renowned chef Grant Achatz tweeted that he was upset when an 8-month-old baby began crying in the dining room of his very expensive and highly rated Chicago restaurant, Alinea, and supposedly could be heard all the way to the kitchen.

Achatz did not remove the diners and their baby, noting that the couple had a last-minute baby-sitter cancellation. But he said that he was considering not allowing babies or other very young children to dine there so as to not detract from his customers’ dining experience.

That touched off a national debate over whether fancy restaurants should impose such a prohibition.

First of all, I learned that eating out with a child about eight months old requires tipping extra. That’s when babies make serious messes. From the jump, that age child already is scoring negative points on the politeness scale.

Second, factor in that Alinea has a two-month waiting list, and its typical bill is about $500 for a table of two. That’s not a meal. That’s an event. It’s not a place for kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I love kids. I especially love my kids. I love them so much I stay home with them all day.

During our recent ChiBeria experience, I didn’t leave the house so much as to even get the mail for seven days straight.

To be clear, I have extreme empathy for parents with baby-sitter concerns, especially parents of infants. And it can be difficult to find a reliable sitter.

When the baby is sleeping or quiet, there is no problem with taking him or her to an upscale restaurant. The problem, of course, is that you can’t be sure the baby will remain sleeping or quiet.

The same is true with adults. When we behave, wear shirts and shoes, we should be able to go to nice places. When we get drunk, loud or belligerent, we can expect to get the boot.

As a mother of children under 4, I don’t have a problem with restaurants designating themselves as PG-13, for mature audiences only.

After all, if I wanted to hear whining and crying, I would just stay home.

Erin Gallagher is a correspondent for the SouthtownStar.



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