There are those diners out there who think there is no place for children in a restaurant (children don’t need to eat, I guess). I can address those at another time. Or how about right now. What are these families to do when they are out of town and need to eat? Stay in the hotel room and order room service? I’m sure that is what those kid-haters would say they want to happen.
The problem isn’t so much with the restaurant that allows kids in the joint, but rather with the guest who takes no responsibility for their kids.
How many times have I gone over to a table after the family has left, only to find a complete mess under the table? No need to guess, that was a rhetorical question. When I say complete mess, I mean complete mess. Like a garbage can full of mess. I just love those who feel it is the restaurant’s job to clean that stuff up. Actually these people don’t even think it through that far. Kinda embarrassing to be a human sometimes.
If you are going to have a neighborhood restaurant, as opposed to a destination restaurant (we should explore that concept sometime) you owe it to your customers to accommodate those younger customers, too. Have food they will eat. something that can be prepared quickly.
Also, have some crayons. a quiet toy, a couple of children’s books–something to occupy them, so the parents can have a decent time. Something to distract them so the kids are not spending their time and energy annoying other customers.
You also can’t be afraid to POLITELY approach the parents if the kids are getting out of control and distracting others and taking away from the others’ experiences. You do need to take care of those families in your neighborhood–they are your customers–but others are spending money, too, and they need someone who is willing to speak up when things seem to be going awry.
People with kids deserve to go out, and others deserve to go out and not have their time ruined by a nearby, whiny child. There is room for both.
Help those parents out
I worked at a place that was an upscale restaurant, and on occasion, parents and their kids would come in to dine. Often these kids were less than considerate. Of other guests, or of their parents.
I would make it a point, once the entrees had arrived, to go up to the table and ask if I could show the kids around the restaurant (usually, by this point in the evening, the kids had already eaten). I would take them in to the kitchen–out of harm’s way, of course–and around to other parts of the place. Just distract them enough so mom and dad could eat.
I found that the parents were super appreciative. Finally having a few minutes of peace to enjoy the meal that they were paying a pretty penny for.
So, come up with some idea or policy, and deal with the situation. Find a way that allows both families with children, and diners without, to have a good time in your restaurant.