In the past, there have been lively debates about kids at fine dining restaurants. I get that. It’s perfectly acceptable for a five-star restaurant to choose not to cater to children when diners are paying hundreds of dollars a plate. But in the real world of cafés and fast food, you have to learn to deal with the ups and downs of customer service. And often, that includes kids.
As a former waitress of more than 10 years and as a mother, I was shocked to see what one Australian café owner posted about her child-friendly policy on Facebook. The owner of The Little French Café in Newcastle, Australia, publicly announced that kids were only welcome in her coffee shop if they were well-behaved. The post was met with an onslaught of criticism for its “anti-parent” stance and was quickly deleted.
The Little French Café’s original Facebook post read, “If you are looking for a cafe with a children’s menu, baby chinos, a play area, lounges for your children to jump on, vast space for your prams, an area for your children to run rampant, and annoy other customers, whilst you are oblivious to them — then the short answer is No we are not child friendly.”
“HOWEVER, if you would like to bring your children here, and they are happy to sit at a table with you, while you enjoy a coffee, and are well behaved, please come in. Otherwise, there are plenty of places that are specifically designed to entertain your children.”
As a parent, this ruffles my feathers immediately. And I’m not the only one. Other parents who saw the Facebook post called the café owner “arrogant.” Parents implied that they would boycott the establishment by giving it a “wide birth.” Some Facebook comments in agreement shared the owner’s annoyance with out-of-control children.
Let me break it down for you real quick. In the service industry, ill-behaved children can be annoying, but they certainly aren’t the only problem. Maybe this shop owner had a few too many unruly kids playing with sugar packets at tables. Yes, that kind of behavior is rude, and parents should keep an eye on their kids.
Now that I’m a parent, I recognize that we aren’t raising robots. I watch my kids like a hawk when we take them out in public and constantly apologize and over-apologize for their childlike behavior. But there’s nothing wrong with being a child. There is something wrong with kids who misbehave and make a mess without parental supervision, which is perhaps what this shop owner was referring to. But to expect most kids to sit quietly with angelic eyes whilst watching their parents enjoy a coffee is a pipe dream.
If this shop owner wants parents’ business, she needs to take her customer service woes on the chin like everyone else. As a waitress, I didn’t like waiting on picky, rude and entitled customers who always wanted to “have it their way” and wouldn’t leave a tip to compensate. It makes more sense to ban bad tippers than children.