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Restaurants have every right to ban strollers

I have been a waitress, and now I’m a parent. Because of this, I know everything there is to know about the endless restaurant-parent power struggle. I’m only kidding — kind of. As a former server and current mother, I feel that I understand both sides of the issue. I’m ready to weigh in. While it may be inconvenient to many parents with young children, restaurants have every right to ban strollers in a crowded dining room.

More and more restaurants are banning strollers. Parents with young children aren’t happy about it. More than a few parents are taking the stroller ban personally, as if it implies that children aren’t welcome in a restaurant.

Let’s approach this from both sides of the argument. As a server in a busy restaurant, it is frustrating and even unsafe to navigate tripping hazards as you try to make your way from table to table. Imagine this — you are carrying a tray of piping hot coffee or bubbling lasagna. Out of nowhere, you trip on an unforeseen object in your path.

Everyone knows that in this sue-happy world, a customer who is horribly burned in a restaurant will be quick to lawyerup (Hello, McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit of 1994!). Even if a server makes an honest mistake and accidentally trips while carrying food, a restaurant could be held liable for a customer’s injuries.

Not only is unnecessary clutter in walkways (like bulky strollers) unsafe, it’s ridiculously inconvenient for a server trying to get from point A to point B. If you want your food now, and you want it hot, and you don’t want it dumped on your lap, then by all means, give the wait staff the room they need to work.

On the other side of the coin, I admit that I am a parent who has taken a stroller into a restaurant before. Sometimes, my toddler is totally unpredictable and fares better when strapped to a familiar surface. But still. My personal convenience as a parent of a crazy toddler doesn’t cancel out basic safety concerns in a restaurant.

Parents, restaurant stroller bans are nothing new and may be coming to a city near you. While it’s easy to get your panties in a bunch because your dining experience with young children may be affected, think twice before protesting a restaurant’s policy. Restaurants want your money, and they want your family to enjoy their food. Most of these restaurants welcome young kids — as long as you check your stroller at the door.

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