I read this newspaper article by Janet Street Porter ‘Why I’d BAN children from cafes and restaurants’. Firstly I felt angered by it, then I felt rather disappointed, then sad, then contemplative (in that order).
It certainly provoked a big response on either side of the spectrum Nothing wrong with a healthy debate!
Yes, even I want to go out for a quiet meal sometimes. Yes, I too feel some children do not know how to behave or have not been taught how to behave whilst out to eat. Sometimes, however, kids just play up, sometimes on the day it just doesn’t work out and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. What we don’t need as parents, is the feeling that we’re being watched and judged on our parenting skills every time we go out to eat as a family.
It’s unfortunate, but sometimes a meal does not go well. For the times it doesn’t go well there are umpteen other times where it goes by without a hitch. Sometimes adults behave badly and I’m not quite sure what their excuse is!
This post is not about whether a coffee shop, pub or restaurant choose to cater for families or not. That’s their choice, obviously.
I’d much rather go somewhere family friendly where we know we are all welcome, than try and sit quietly in a restaurant who clearly aren’t aiming for our market and worry every time our child so much as squeaks or dare drop their spoon. That’s not enjoyable for anybody.
This post is more about the inference in the article that adults are more important. The undertone is that adults deserve a quiet meal and that children WILL ruin that. Whether is was intended or not, the article came across as if children’s enjoyment of a meal is not at all important. What about their experiences of eating out?
I wonder what our children think of YOU when you grumble and complain and treat the waiting staff like poo about something insignificant that went wrong with your meal?
I think children are important customers and I don’t think I’m alone. Our kids are certainly the paying customers of the future aren’t they? Indeed even now, where the children are happy, the parents will pay to go and that is big business.
I made the observation that kids are customers too on a Facebook thread. One of the responses was ‘oh no they’re not’ in a slightly panto style.
Another said “haven’t you seen the signs kids eat free”? Of course I have, but eating for ‘free’ generally means eating chicken nuggets and chips and my kids won’t eat that kind of food. Not because we won’t let them, but because they just don’t like it.
I believe they were inferring that since kids can ‘eat for free’ then they aren’t customers. So why do I think children ARE customers?
Firstly, they are people! Human beings in their own right. Therefore, not only do they deserve the same respect as an adult, but they also deserve the same service.
If you were to argue that they don’t hold the purse strings or pay the bills then I guess they aren’t customers in the dictionary definition. If you’re going to use that argument in this case though, then my question to you would be who is the customer when I go out with my Mum for coffee and she pays? We are both the customer as adults even though she pays, children ARE customers even though they don’t pay.
If we take our children out for a meal then WE are ‘the customers’ All. Of. Us.
How you treat people who can do nothing for you speaks volumes! It speaks volumes to me as the person who actually pays the bill at the end aka THE PARENT (who spend an awful lot of money on said children btw).
I really like this article written for Speciality Food Magazine, ‘Serving the youngest customers’ is not only great customer service, but forward thinking.
We are putting children in a box when we say they are all badly behaved. Some parents teach their children how to go out and behave in public, we need to allow these parents some breathing room. It’s a process and it takes time as we teach our children boundaries and how to behave in public, at home and at other people’s houses.
Kids are clever and sometimes they push boundaries, most importantly they’re our future. Maybe more importantly to a business owner? They’re future PAYING customers.
I think it’s high time children got the respect they deserve. I want to see a culture (like Italy) where children are included from birth and cafe’s and restaurants not only SAY children are welcome but properly EMBRACE everything that family dining brings. I want to see children properly catered for with healthy and delicious food and drinks on the menus AND serving staff who engage with the children as standard.
I don’t want to see signs saying saying ‘welcomes quiet and well behaved children’ that just puts us on edge from the off. As parents we want our children to be quiet and well behaved, I promise we do not go out of our way to ruin your meal.
Show me an eatery who offers more than a high chair and baby changing, and that’s the place we frequent time and time again.
Have you had a bad experience eating out with your children? Have you had your meal ruined by unruly kids? Do you go the extra mile for your customers who are kids?
I’d love to hear your comments below.