You Can Eat at Nice Restaurants, Or Have Children. Pick One.

Categories: Media

Dinner for six
The Chronicle this morning posted a web piece that picks up where everyone left off in the battle of San Francisco vs. Children.

We're pretty sure the post, penned by the Chron's food writer, Michael Bauer, wasn't meant to be humorous, but hell, we always have a good laugh when we read about First World problems like these.

The post details a San Francisco family's experience trying to dine out with their 4-month-old baby in a stroller. But if it accomplished anything, it was proving that San Francisco just doesn't love kids.

Here's a snippet of the email the diners wrote to Bauer:

The bottom line is that someone who I think was the manager refused our party service, in part because of the baby stroller. We arrived at the restaurant at roughly 6:15 pm, and put our names on the list (party of 4 plus baby stroller). Upon doing a quick scan of the restaurant, which we realized had limited seating options, my friend (the baby's mom) had informed the wait staff [sic] that she had a stroller and specifically noted that only one table looked like it would accommodate the stroller, out of harm's and traffic's way. This table is adjacent to the door and a convenient little alcove. The wait staff [sic, again] told her that it was no problem and that they would be able to accommodate the stroller.

After waiting about 35 minutes, the staff called a party of 3 who had actually arrived after us. This party of 3 was seated at the only table that would accommodate a baby stroller. Shortly thereafter, our names were called. It was clear that the table would not be able to accommodate the stroller. The manager suggested that we order food to go. As an accommodation, I believe she also suggested that the mom either hold the baby while eating or put the main baby compartment with the baby in it on the floor.

Realizing that none of our options were viable, my husband asked the table of 3 if they would consider swapping tables with us in light of the baby stroller. They agreed to move. We sat down at our respective tables, and the manager came to our table telling us that she had decided not to serve us that night. She said it was inappropriate for us to approach another table. We told her we were particularly appalled because her wait staff [sic once again] knew early on that we had a stroller. The manager claims that the party of 3 was irritated that they had to move.

The disturbed diner then posits the question: Who was in the wrong? Bauer made it pretty darn clear that the restaurant was behaving badly in that Stanley Roberts sorta way; however, he punted this one to the readers, who, being the anti-kid citizens we are, dog-piled the parents. Now, of the 300-plus comments, not all of them were slamming the parents, but a majority of them were. Click on the comments to read the large print:

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Now might be a good time to read our story detailing the 5 reasons it's better to have a dog than a kid

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Alice Wonderworld
Alice Wonderworld

This article was whiny and boring two weeks ago, age has done nothing to improve it.


A restaurant has the right to decide who they will serve.

A customer has the right to decide if they will patronize that same restaurant and their friends have the right to decide if they will patronize the same restaurant.

Having said that, I think taking a 4 month old child into such a restaurant shouldn’t be done as its crying can ruin the mood of other customers who might be there wanting peace and quiet. I think the restaurant was being reasonable in not wanting to disturb other customers.

That’s not being anti-child, but just considerate.

John Lilly
John Lilly

false choice - the world isn't black and white.

abledart topcommenter

This appears to be a case of mutual entitlement all around, compounded by the slimy actions of the restaurant. If the parent's account is true about being snubbed from the first table, that's pretty bad. It may not necessarily be reasonable to bring an infant to a crowded restaurant, but if you can, you deal with it. In this case the restaurant went out of their way to snub the family, which in turn led them to impose on the other table, so nobody ends up looking good here. As someone who occasionally dines out alone I have also experienced slimy behavior from restaurants. They figure I'm taking up two or more seats when I'm only paying for one. Restaurants really should look at situations like this as anomalies (which is what they are) and deal with them. People are paying for their service as well as their food. If someone takes advantage, then start talking. Use some empathy to smooth things out and if that doesn't work, be forthright about why you can't offer service. Maybe they'll get it that they should hire a sitter.

Bill Hughes
Bill Hughes

You can have both, we have raised a child that actually has something that used to be know as "manners". We never had a problem with our daughter "acting up' when "out" for dinner. I'm sorry if parents bring a stroller in to the restaurant with them and expect to be accommodated well...


Blowing the whistle on poor customer service, saves the rest of us from making the same mistake. 

Ruth Gottstein
Ruth Gottstein

Or the memorable time we were sitting in a neighborhood restaurant, with three little kids (one in a high chair) and the kids started acting up, and we paid the bill for the meal which hadn't yet arrived--and left. The kids NEVER forgot that!

Jeffree Benet
Jeffree Benet

Or, you can join us who have moved to Europe and can enjoy both.

Adrienne Gates
Adrienne Gates

Ha- sorry but... I used to be one of those who crossed the street to avoid babies. So I made sure my children never once acted up, fussed, spit up or cried in a restaurant. Despite all the glares we got from people anticipating bad behavior from them... they were great in public. We were constantly told by patrons and wait staff alike, that our children were wonderful and a joy to have around. Nice restaurants don't have to be cut from your life if your children are civilized.

mrericsir topcommenter

Do babysitters no longer exist or something?  I don't get it.

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