Unruly children? Most pizza places have an option just for you...
Not sure this headline is fair to the restaurant or to Yelpers:
Georgia Pizzeria Kicks Out Crying Kids to Appease Yelpers
When I read this article, my first thought was to Tower of Pizza, in Metairie, LA. Tower of Pizza is a very popular place and arguably one of the best hand-tossed pizzas in the metro New Orleans area. It doesn't seem to be all that different in terms of what they're trying to appeal to than Grant Central Pizza, the subject of this Eater article. I've been in Tower of Pizza when people bring in their kids for end-of-season soccer team or t-ball dinners, and the place is a really a hot mess. If a couple walked in, they might well just back out the way they came in.
But that's not the real problem. Tower of Pizza isn't CiCi's or Pizza Hut, so there's a certain expectation there. Chain restaurants, particularly those with all-you-can-eat setups, are the Lowest Common Denominator of the dining world. Little local places aren't. The date-night couple heading out to CiCi's should expect children running to and from the game room, screaming infants, and parents who just don't give a crap. That's why they went up a notch on the scale in the first place.
Is it reasonable for a restaurant to ask diners to control their children? You bet. Here's what GCP put on their menu:
"Dear all present and future patrons: GCP is proud of its reputation as a family restaurant, a title that we will work to keep. Unfortunately a number of our diners have posted unpleasant experiences because of crying and unsupervised children. To ensure that all diners have an enjoyable lunch or dinner with us we respectfully ask that parents tend to their crying tots outside."
This isn't all that unreasonable, and not much different from the tongue-in-cheek signs you see in many indie coffee shops:
Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy
Parents should not expect the other diners in a restaurant to babysit their children! While I'll be the first to agree that many Yelp! users are unreasonable in their criticisms, this is not one of those times. In the GCP article, the manager is quoted as saying a diner complained once that another diner's child actually hit them. Totally unacceptable behavior, and the restaurant would be well within their rights to ask the offending parents to leave. If your kids can't sit still, it's on you to control them. If you can't control them, it's on you to take them someplace else.
Crying children are another issue. A small child's schedule often doesn't coincide with their parents' dining plans, and they have no issues whatsoever in communicating their displeasure. To me, this is a grey area when it comes to dining. You feed the kid, put them in the car, and drive to a local restaurant. They're sleeping and you hope they'll stay that way long enough for you to enjoy a meal out. Most of us who are parents get it (and probably have been there). I remember one pizza place not far from our house. We took my then-15mo-old firstborn with us, and he napped peacefully through most of dinner. Then he woke up hollering! As I was gathering him up to take him outside and (hopefully) rock him back to sleep (or at least calm him down), the mom of the owner came out from the back, took him from me, sat me back down with my wife, and walked him around in her arms. With the special attention, he settled down and started giggling, as we then ordered dessert.
You can't expect that sort of thing whenever you go out, though. A restaurant isn't an airplane. If your kid starts crying/screaming, you have an option--go outside!