Kids under the age of 6 are no longer welcome at a small restaurant near Pittsburgh. Mike Vuick, the owner of McDain’s Restaurant and Golf Center in Monroeville, Pa., issued the ban, which began July 16.
Vuick said he was acting on behalf of people who have emailed him, saying that their meals had been ruined by loud or unruly children. It’s not as if Mr. Vuick’s never been around kids; he’s a former high school sociology and psychology teacher (admittedly, dealing with teens rather than tots).
The ban has brought with it quite a bit of controversy and notoriety for Vuick and the restaurant. He’s been interviewed by TV and radio reporters from as far away as New Zealand and Australia. Vuick said he’s received more than 2,000 emails and he claims they are running 11-to-1 in favor of his actions.
More than 10,000 people responded to a Pittsburgh TV news channel poll on the subject with 64% supporting the under-6 ban, and 26% opposed.
Reporting for TIME magazine, James Beard Award-winning food writer Josh Ozersky got in touch with a number of people in the restaurant business and found almost all the chefs and servers he spoke with told him they hated having kids in restaurants. One server at a well-known San Francisco restaurant told Ozersky, “We all used to dread seeing parents bring kids in. “You knew they were going to make a huge mess, that the table and floor was going to be a disaster area, that the ticket [check] would be lower, meaning less of a tip, and that the parents were going to be constantly on us for food right away.”
Restaurant owners feel the same way, Ozersky writes. But one prominent restaurant magnate, Danny Meyer, among the most esteemed restaurateurs in the industry with a stable of celebrated eateries in New York, is totally opposed to banning little kids. He emphasizes that it’s up to the parents to keep their little ones under control, and if they can’t, they should remove them.
Most restaurant industry professionals don’t expect this to start a trend. “Most restaurants embrace families and appreciate the business they bring in the door,” Patrick Conway, president and chief executive of the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association, told Kris Maher of the Wall Street Journal.
Well, perhaps so. But now that the first shot has been fired across the bow, we wouldn’t be surprised if more followed. I know that when I’m being seated in a nice sit-down restaurant, I scan the tables and booths for kids under 3, and if the host or hostess suggests we sit near one, I request a different location. Intolerant? Maybe. But that’s how I roll.
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