There’s an old saying that children should be seen but not heard. In other words, kids shouldn't speak until spoken to when adults are present, presumably because of proper manners, or respect, or some other Victorian-era idea. Or maybe it’s simply because 5-year-olds rarely know hot gossip that’s worth hearing about at dinner parties.
Whatever the reasoning, we’ve all pretty much done away with the idea that kids should stay silent at the dinner table.
But now it appears a growing number of upscale restaurants are adopting the belief that not only should children not be heard at dinner, but they shouldn't been seen, either.
Caruso’s Fine Dining recently made headlines for requesting families leave their children under five at home when making dinner reservations at the North Carolina eatery. According to the Washington Post the final straw was “a little girl using an iPad with the volume on high” which her parents refused to turn down despite repeated requests from staff.
According to Caruso’s, incidents like this ruin an evening out for other customers who are often paying quite a bit to treat themselves to an upscale dinner. And honestly, that seems like a pretty reasonable rationale.
But it shouldn’t come as a surprise that taking a stance on anything tends to cause waves: Caruso’s came under fire from some parents who felt the move was anti-family.
At the same time, however, the Post reports a big spike in reservations for the Italian restaurant in the wake of the announcement, and there's been lots of support on social media as well.
But what do other restaurateurs think of the situation?
Cuchara Restaurant of Houston, TX told The Feast they support whatever measures other restaurants feel the need to take or not take when it comes to policies around children. "Their house, their rules,” said owner Ana Beaven, adding that they “support restaurants based on the food.”
While Cuchara gladly welcomes children and families to dine with them, they’ve had their own problems in the past that have led to new policies. After one unruly child used a coin to scratch $1,500 dollars worth of damage into Cuchara’s walls, the owners decided to introduce small postcards at each table. “We welcome children,” Beaven said, “and they are expected to behave. After we sit the family and hand out menus, we set a postcard at the table with our set of rules for behavior.”
While not all families may agree with child-specific rules at restaurants, they can actually be a lifesaver for adults looking to take a break from young children or crying babies for an evening. Beaven notes the cards at Cuchara have been a huge success: “It works wonders! Our adult clientele truly appreciates eating in peace, [with] no running or yelling children around them.”
While the topic certainly seems to be divisive, restaurateurs apparently agree: whatever an owner needs to do in their own restaurant is their choice.
And how customers decide to react to that choice, is up to them.
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