Illinois chef questions allowing babies in restaurants

(HLNtv.com) — Should patrons with crying babies be banned from high-end eating establishments?

That’s a question many on the Interwebs were answering Tuesday after an award-winning chef posed the dilemma on social media over the weekend, saying that a couple with an 8-month-old was causing quite a scene at his Michelin 3-star eatery and that “Diners (are) mad.”

HLN learned of this story on Twitter, where chef Grant Achatz, who owns and runs the venerable Alinea Restaurant in Chicago, had his followers in a tizzy Saturday night when he posed this dilemma to his followers: “Tbl brings 8mo.Old. It cries. Diners mad. Tell ppl no kids? Subject diners 2crying? Ppl take infants 2 plays? Concerts? Hate saying no,but..”

The question immediately set off a surge of tweets of the “Don’t you hate those critters?” variety, and the “Wait, fine dining is where we go to escape our kids,” type, while others took the high road, opting for a more measured tone. “Have early sitting for children,” one Twitter user suggested.

In the past three days, the issue, which has produced a hilarious parody account on Twitter called @AlineaBaby, has been addressed on sites across the Web and has become a sort of referendum on parenting. But should it be?

Nadia Jones, a mommy blogger and founder of the Niche Parent Network and Conference, told HLN on Tuesday that the onus is on parents to do the responsible thing. “I wouldn’t bring my 8-month-old or an 8-year-old to a high-end restaurant like Alinea, but that doesn’t mean there should be a ban against babies or children. The ban should be on parents that don’t know how to use their good judgment or common sense in these situations.”

“If a parent decides to bring a child and he or she gets fussy, step outside so that others can enjoy their dinner and cocktails. This makes sense at a casual dining restaurant and especially a high-end restaurant,” said Jones, who blogs at JusticeJonesie.

Achatz, whose establishment issues tickets in advance for seating, told “Good Morning America” that the issue is still a tough one and that even in the kitchen, he could hear the baby crying. “We want people to come and enjoy and experience Alinea for what it is, but we also have to be cognizant of the other 80 people that came in to experience Alinea that night,” he said.

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11 comments

  • Tim

    I honestly don’t think babies should be allowed in high-end/expensive restaurants. I actually don’t go to sit down establishments simply because of babies and idiot kids who make a ruckus. I want to eat my food and enjoy it, not hear WAAAAAAAAA, WAAAAAAAAAAAAA, WAAAAAAAA, or hear some stupid little kid whinning because he didn’t get his chicken fingers.

    • Tim

      As someone else stated, if we’re paying money to sit down and eat somewhere fancy, we deserve to eat in peace. Not have your brat disturbing us. Don’t like the way I’m wording things? Too bad. I don’t ever want kids because I honestly wouldn’t be able to deal with them. Kids annoy me to no end.

  • Charlie

    WOW, Courtney!!!!! I’ve raised 4 kids and not once did I ever take them to an upscale restaurant. Not until they got way older. Like 10+ years of age and knew how to act like little ladies and gentlemen. You must think $35 on up for a plate of food, with a total bill of $100+ doesn’t deserve the piece and quiet that I and others are paying for when we eat out. Tell you what, you stick to Mickey D’s with your rugrats and don’t enter the finer eating establishments.

  • Meesha

    Woah! Just because a kid makes a ruckus and whines does not in ANY way make them an “idiot” or “stupid” for that matter. That’s something all kids go through at some point. If the parents are responsible enough to take their child who is crying out of the room and calm them down before bringing them back to the table, then there shouldn’t be an issue. If you think kids should be completely banned from a restaurant, then shouldn’t whiney adults who make a scene be banned as well?

    • Charlie

      If I’m paying top dollar for a quiet evening with my wife at an high-end, upscale eatery, I don’t need to hear your brat or for that matter anyone else’s brat making a ruckus. I want the peace and quiet to talk to my wife about how her day went, how the kids did today and so on. And if it happens to be for business, I definitely don’t want to hear your kid. If you didn’t raise them properly and teach them how to behave when in public, then keep them home. Respect, Manners, and POLITENESS have gone the way of the DODO Bird these past 30+ years. you’re If you can afford to spend $35 or more for a plate and that doesn’t include your entree, dessert or drinks, you can afford to get a sitter. And by the way, the proper spelling is “WHOA!!”. The ‘H’ is silent. P.S. You don’t wear a cap or hat in church, top end eatery or my house. And like two restaurants in Chicago, and other larger cities, cell phones are banned while you are there. If it rings, you’re asked to take your call OUTSIDE.

  • Jennifer Starr

    If a place offers a childrens menu, children will be there, othe diners will have to deal. However, I doubt that a upscale Michelin Star establishment offers one. I have two children, it would never cross my mind in a million years to take them anywhere nicer than Olive Garden. They are children and still learning to behave, they don’t belong in high end dining establishments. They will earn that privelege(sp) when they are older and no longer see eatingutensild and linen as weapons….lol

    • Charlie

      BRAVO!!!!!! But I think even Olive Garden is pushing it a bit
      sometimes. I’ve seen too many kids below 8 that should be left home with a sitter because they won’t listen even after numerous teachings.

  • Elizabeth

    I agree and I am a Grandmother of 5. I have seen it many, many, times. kids out of control in “High-end” restaurants. Some restaurants even allow kids at the bar.. if they are on a waiting list. Once while sitting in the bar area.. an out of control 4 year old was on and off the bar stool. Jumped in the way of a waitress carrying a huge tray of food. All the food and the waitress went crashing to the ground. The child was unharmed. However, the parents acted like it was the servers fault. EVERYONE in the bar area had firm words with the parents. Also, I have seen kids running around going to the restrooms alone without supervision and getting in the way of employees. I have said this for years… Children DO NOT belong in some restaurants. PERIOD!!!

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