by Lisa Fogarty
You know how kids are when they get to a pizzeria, right? Totally unruly, climbing the curtains, spilling soda everywhere, unable to sit still in their seats for 10 minutes in order to devour every child's favorite food. Well, that's how one upscale pizzeria in New York City views tykes, and the establishment has decided to do something about it: by declaring a "partial ban" on admitting children into its restaurant.
John Kandel, the owner of Bad Horse Pizza, which sells specialty pies with toppings like salmon and goat cheese, recently canceled a reservation for 12 after learning 9 of the guests were children. According to the understandably peeved customer who made the reservation, the owner told him 9 was far too many children to have in the restaurant at once and that they would distract other paying customers. When asked how many children was acceptable, the owner reportedly couldn't answer the question.
Kandel is sticking to his guns and has admitted that customers seeking its candlelit tables don't want to be surrounded by rowdy children who are only going to ruin their dining experience. It sounds like he fears he'll lose money if he sacrifices couples or large parties of adults -- who we all know are going to spend lots of money on alcohol at night -- for families with children.
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As a mom who loves dining out, I guess I should be more offended by this restaurant owner's decision. But I really do understand it. Children -- my toddler included -- can be supremely annoying, especially when you're trying to enjoy a lovely meal out. My problem with this owner's ban isn't the ban itself -- it's the ambiguity of his "rule."
How many children is too many? Should I assume that if I have one baby and want to dine at this pizzeria, it's okay, but if I have four kids, I'll be turned away? Or if I have three kids and one looks like an unruly toddler, I'll be denied food that day?
And what if my children are teens or preteens? Is there a different rule or no rule at all for kids who are actually able to sit still in their seats and eat without dribbling food all over the place? Many teens and tweens are perfectly lovely dining companions, and I feel, as a parent, taking them to a nice restaurant once in a while is a really good thing to do. I still remember my mom treating me to a fancy dinner when I was a teen and teaching me which fork to use with which course and how to properly fold my napkin on my chair when I got up from the table to use the restroom.
If this owner wishes to impose restrictions against children -- which is always going to seem strange considering he makes PIZZA -- it would make a lot more sense to ban children under 18 from admittance after 7 p.m.
And even that doesn't make a whole heck of a lot of sense to me.
What are your thoughts? Should restaurants have the right to ban kids?