A precedent is growing among the nation’s casual eateries – banning young children.   McDain’s Restaurant, in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, kids are not welcome.   Before you blow a gasket, lots more restaurants are joining this growing trend.

Mike Vuick, owner of the Pittsburgh area establishment recently banned children under 6 from his restaurant after receiving noise complaints from customers about crying kids.  Vuick’s policy goes into effect July 16.

Under 6, children tend to scream uncontrollably, throw food, reach out and grab things, spill food or drink and create a general nuisance of themselves.  Unaware of their social surroundings or, that their behavior is annoying to others, they act, well, as children.   We don’t blame them and desire they have a fun and free childhood.  But there’s a time and place for that and a myriad of restaurants where such antics are welcome.  Most upscale casual eateries are  not among those dining options.

Parents, we dare say, are more the problem, not for raising loud children, but for making inconsiderate dining choices.  If parents want to take their children out to dinner, please take them someplace where other parents with small children will go.  Don’t take them to a restaurant where business people are having important discussions, or couples are trying to enjoy a romantic dinner.

The rights of parents and children do not trump the rights of others in that dining room, and the right to quiet is just as important as the child’s right to scream his or her head off.   However, we ask whether a casual or even a more formal or upscale restaurant is the appropriate place for anyone to scream, yell and throw food?   That, after all, is the job of the temperamental chef in the kitchen.

We endorse Mr. Vuick’s policy and hope it spreads widely among casual restaurants far and wide.   Joining other restaurants, Mr. Vuick is helping to set a precedent that establishes a time and place for everything… and eating out in better restaurants is a time for peace, quite and tranquility, not tantrums, spills and flying food.

Local political officials are in an uproar over this decision, defending the rights of parents to bring their children anywhere.  In their defense, they ignore the notion that the rights of a couple celebrating their anniversary at a nearby table are equally important, and that those people, not the contumacious 5 year old, will vote next election.

Vuick explained in an email to customers “We feel that McDain’s is not a place for young children. Their volume can’t be controlled and many, many times, they have disturbed other customers.”   He’s so right.

“When I’m paying $30 or more per person for a meal, I’d appreciate some peace and quite, and the ability to enjoy the conversation, the ambiance, and the relaxation that meal is supposed to bring. I do not want to hear screaming children next to me, nor have a French Fry tossed at me” said Robert Angelone, our publisher and a restaurant industry consultant for over 30 years.

Vuick immediately came under attack from some parents who countered that there are often loud people at the bar.  Well, the bartender can and should refuse service to anyone making excessive noise in that part of an eatery, and they’re subject to being sent packing; why not children?  All restaurants ban overtly drunken, loud adults.  Should overtly loud children not also be banned?

Some parents consider banning children of a certain age discriminatory.  Hogwash.  No one in the restaurant industry suggests that children be banned from eating out entirely.  Parents have to make wiser choices about where children belong.  If a mother and father want to go out, they also have the option of hiring a babysitter while they go by themselves to a more upscale establishment.  Young children simply don’t belong everywhere.

We pay taxes to have public libraries, but we don’t for restaurants.  Parents of a screaming child in a library would be told to remove the child, so why not on private property – protecting the rights of other patrons?  Besides, with the vast number of “family restaurants” out there, where children of all ages are welcome, and the noise level is such that any screaming child is drowned out by the din, there are sufficient opportunities to dine out.

While this last point may annoy some parents, it must be said.  Perhaps the method of raising children to have the freedom to scream at will is not the best method.  While freedom of expression is a noble concept, it is equally important to teach respectability, dignity and civil behavior to children from an early age.  Without that, as adults, we’ll have a population of incredibly selfish, spoiled and indecent citizens.    Even more so than we have already.

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