Parents at restaurant with toddler

Two military moms got booted out of a cafe because their kids were messy. And to make matters worse, the owner of the cafe took a photo of the mess and posted it on her professional Facebook page.

Business owner
under fire for post

Should parents always clean up after their kids when dining out, or was this business owner way out of line?

Cafe owner Lorraine "Rainy" MacDuff has made the news, and not because her business practices are being lauded — instead, she has come under fire because she posted a photo of the mess two children left behind on her business Facebook page accompanied by a sarcastic comment about how much she enjoys patrons that don’t make messes. This has led to an outpouring of support for the business owner from one crowd and condemnation from people who feel she should expect noise and messes from children. One of the women involved has stated that one of her children was having a tantrum and the scones they were eating made a mess on the floor. However, they wouldn’t have had a chance to clean up anyway because the owner came over, scolded them, told them to leave — but they could come back without their children. Who’s right?

Bad business move

Many people feel that this business owner made a really bad and highly unprofessional move for several reasons.

"I think this was a very poor business decision, unless her goal is to lose the stay-at-home mom business she likely relies on."

“I think this was a very poor business decision, unless her goal is to lose the stay-at-home mom business she likely relies on,” said Tara, mother of one. As Stacy, mom of three, pointed out, “If my child is having a meltdown while eating, and then I was asked to leave and not return with my children, the mess is probably not going to get cleaned up by me.”

Lisa, mom of three, agreed. “The cafe owner was in the wrong,” she explained. “She says she is sarcastic... fine and dandy for your friends, not the general public. If she wants an establishment with no kids, open a bar.”

Right on!

Many commenters on the cafe’s Facebook page are siding with the business owner, however. “Kicking those disgraceful breeders out was the right thing to do,” said Facebook commenter Steven. “Poor parenting leading to screaming monsters can ruin a nice meal for everyone. You were in the right to post the picture, and the fact that that awful mother showed no shame is proof that her children will grow up to be failures.”

Cleaning up, or not?

We asked moms if they routinely clean up after their kids when they take them to restaurants, and the answers were similar.

"If I wanted to clean up after them I would stay home. That’s their job at a restaurant... to clean up the floor."

“As a mom, I always try to clean up as much as possible after my kids eat out, but I would not go as far as sweeping crumbs up off the floor (although I do sometimes pick up bigger bits of food),” shared Rebecca, mom of four. Charlene from New York agreed. “I don't clean up what mess they leave on the floor,” she said. “If I wanted to clean up after them I would stay home. That’s their job at a restaurant... to clean up the floor.”

Bridgetta, mom of three, also felt that parents do have a certain responsibility when out and about with their kids. “I have been to places where people literally laugh at their kids throwing stuff all over the floor,” she remembered. “I would never do that — it teaches the children bad table manners and it isn't funny either.”

Going forward

The owner has since deleted the Facebook photo and issued a public apology, and will probably think twice before doing something similar in the future. However, in this day and age, with the power of social media, she should not be surprised at the reactions from the general public. As Stacy succinctly explained, “At the end of the day, the owner can do what she wants on her Facebook page, but she should expect some backlash.”

More on dining out with kids

6 Tips for taking kids out to eat
Entertain your preschooler at a restaurant
Best restaurant chains for families


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Comments on "Should parents clean up after their kids in restaurants?"

Scott March 07, 2014 | 11:02 AM

My wife and I DO clean up after our child when we dine out. I understand the argument, "I'm paying to go out so I don't have to cook or clean", but people without children are dining in the same establishments and don't have food pouring into their laps and onto the floor. If a child's eating habits were the standard of public eating etiquette, then leaving your child's food fall-out behind would be acceptable since they would only be leaving child sized adult messes behind. It isn't fair to the owner of any restaurant and the people waiting for your table that YOUR mess (i.e. your child's) is left behind for someone else (i.e. your server) to spend extra time cleaning up. In fact, your table will likely sit empty 3 times as long because of YOUR mess which was left behind. I know you spent big bucks on that child mac & cheese plate as well as your own food, but by leaving the mess and preventing the table from being flipped you are costing both the restaurant and the server money. Buy a whisk broom and dust pan set at the dollar store and put it in your bag. If you insist that you are paying top dollar so you don't have to clean... make sure the wait-staff agree.

Ann August 17, 2013 | 12:20 AM

I always clean up some if my child makes a mess, which is rare. It's rude not to in my opinion, as their job is not to clean up after your child who can't dine out properly. Maybe Little One isn't ready for a restaurant yet if they're constantly making a mess.

Deborah August 09, 2013 | 1:52 PM

Parents should set a good example for their children, and it's never too early to start. Typical restaurant workers make minimum wage, and are rushed to turnover a table for the next patron. It is only good manners to clean up after messy kids. If parents would take more notice of what their kids are doing at the table, maybe their table would't look like a feed trough when they left. Less texting might lead to more teaching on how to behave at a table. Having been a military mom with a little one, I value the community establishments that welcome military families, and I respect them too much to leave them with my mess. Grow up moms and take some responsibility for your little ones.

Bethanny Parker August 08, 2013 | 5:30 AM

I clean up major messes (such as a spilled drink). Otherwise, I don't clean up. I'm paying big bucks to go out to eat so I don't have to do the cooking and cleaning! I do leave a bigger than usual tip if my kids make a bigger than average mess.

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