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servers and children


I thought i would start a thread on the needs of families dining out with little children in the hope that people in the restaurent industry would see what type of things parents feel their children need so everyone can have a good dining experience.

for me, speed of service is very important because kids have limited patience. Last week we took a nephew out to lunch (2 adults + one 3-year-old), asked if we could be served quickly, were told yes. Ordered immediately, told her to bring all the apps. and the mains at the same time. took about 20 minutes after food was served to get utensils: 2 knives, 2 forks, 1 spoon for 2 adults and 1 child. I stoped asking. We shared utensils. the main showed up long after all the apps were gone. I think the slow service added at least 45 minutes to our meal. By the end the child wanted to get up and run. Thankfully, the restaurent was empty by then. For all the complaining about how annoying children are in restos, you'd think they would serve us and let us leave.

Another thing i would like is having healthy children's menus. Enough with the fried mystry meat crap. could we get some healthy meat (fish, chicken breasts..) and some veggies and fruit for once?

and personally, i have a pet peeve. If you are a server, and the first thing you do when you get to the table is offer my son juice or coke or any other sugar filled drink without checking with me, know that you have made me really mad at you.

  1. With regards to your last two paragraphs and it's content......the onus is on you, not the restaurant or the server. You are making the decisions where to dine....and the server is addressing both you and your child....not just your child.

    2 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      no actually, some servers will look my kid in the eye and say: would you like some juice/a coke? Usually, I say milk is fine, but sometimes, it will make my kid mad because he wants juice. typically, i will check the menu and if they have fresh squeezed juice, i will order that, but i won't order regular juice for him because it is too sweet.

      and the children's menu is a would like rather than an essential item. i usually just order from the regular menu for my son. If i have leftovers, i can take them home, so, it's not really a waste. But it would still be nice to have a reasonable children's menu. And it would be nice if servers stopped insisting that we order from the children's menu. Like a certain place i was at last month where we were asked 5 times if we were sure we did not want the children's menu (nuggets or burger) for him when we had already ordered him his own plate of salmon and he ate all his fish.

      1. re: hala

        Thanks for the polite reply....I was suggesting the server was addressing both of you as a table, not specifically just when ordering.....as for the children's menu, many restaurant owners I know will make half portions of regular menu items for kids....or even seniors...... I would suggest you ask if this is possible the next time you dine at your favorite places.

    2. Wow, clearly you've never been on the other side of this issue. I agree that the server in your experience failed to honor your requests to serve all the dishes at once & didn't provide you with the necessary utensils... that is just plain poor service. But I don't think restaurants, in general, want to rush you in and out simply because you have children.

      Children's menus are awful, generally speaking, there's no way around it. But restaurants do offer "normal, healthy fare" on their regular menu so it's available, you just have to ask. Typically you can get a side of vegetables or fresh fruit, grilled chicken, etc. You aren't limited to what's in print on the kids' menu.

      You would be amazed by the messes and chaos some children bring to a restaurant dining room. Dumping sugar caddies, salt & pepper shakers, their food, drinks, etc. and leaving the staff to clean it all up. Running around the dining room, screaming/crying (my pet peeve) destroying the restrooms, etc. As a former server and a mother of two I vowed never to be that family when we dined out.

      Getting angry with the server about the drink choices is misdirected. Let's face it, those choices are standard in any establishment no matter where you go. It's society, government and those pesky subsidies and big corporations that are to blame for our poor food & beverage choices. But that's an entirely different discussion, isn't it? But don't shoot the messenger, please.

      6 Replies
      1. re: lynnlato

        i guess i disagree that it was poor service to not serve all elements of the meal together (not giving the table proper silverware was poor service, however). in this case the customers trapped the server in a catch-22 by asking if they could be served promptly and then after being told yes, demanding all the food, soup to nuts, all at once. the apps menu is designed for faster service than the mains-- that's why quick-cooking or quick prep items like egg rolls and bruschetta are on the starters menu and items that take longer to cook are on the mains menu. the op asked to be served quickly-- so it's reasonable to expect the first course of the meal to be served quite promptly-- but it's unreasonable to expect that a main that takes 15 mins to cook will be ready at the same time as the egg rolls/bruschetta, in 5 minutes. the customer's completely unreasonable expectation that the mains would be ready as quickly as apps is at fault here, and the server is in the unenviable position of trying to figure out whether it's better to serve in courses (so the toddler with no attention span is entertained and so that the customers are served *some* food promptly, as per customers' request) or delaying the starters, so that the customers can be served all items at once (but you said we'd be served quickly!). go to a quick-serve, mcdonald's, buffet, etc. instead if this is the expectation.

        to the op's 2nd and 3rd points:
        agree that the kids' menu is not written by the server--don't blame the server for a societal issue, s/he can't change it. folks need to face the fact that when many parents look at a "kid's menu," what they want to see is a significantly cheaper price point than the regular menu. hence the cheaper, less healthy, so-called kid-friendly grilled cheeze & fries, fried chx fingers etc. if you want healthier food for your kid, order off of the real menu, or better yet go to a place that doesn't have a "kids' menu," --but restaurants are not obligated to sell you a farm-raised chicken breast over seasonal organic vegetables for $3.50 just because a kid happens to be the one ordering it.

        servers ask each customer what s/he would like. part of the job. that includes children. if the server were to ignore the kid and instead ask the parent what the child would like for a beverage, people would be screaming that servers don't think kids are human beings capable of making their own choices.

        servers are not pseudo-parents, nor are they babysitters or maids (babysitters and maids get a better hourly wage). don't expect the server to enforce parenting rules about diet or soft drinks or magically know your kid prefers salmon to cheeseburgers.

        to parents: whatever happened to talking with the kid *prior* to getting to the restaurant, prepping them for how it works, that we are on our best behavior/no temper tantrums, or we're leaving; that the nice server brings our food to us when it's ready so we need to be pleasant, patient and social, and if this is an issue for a toddler, here's some cheerios in the meantime. that no, we absolutely won't be ordering a 20 oz bottomless mountain dew at 8 pm, we can choose milk or water. proper socialization for kids and adults involves not thinking that the world revolves entirely around ourselves/our child.

        1. re: soupkitten

          My understanding is that at the time OP placed her order they ordered the apps and mains together and asked that it all be brought out together. This is not an impossible feat - the back of the house (and the servers) are skilled at timing (or should be). Its a common request that can be easily accomodated by the restaurant.

          "restaurants are not obligated to sell you a farm-raised chicken breast over seasonal organic vegetables for $3.50 just because a kid happens to be the one ordering it." - completely agree and well said, IMHO! :-)

          1. re: soupkitten

            Nicely stated SK.

            One other point on your timing input.

            When people order the two course together, in their minds it means the faster one is the correct time frame. When an app and a main are requested together it is the longer "to cook" item that is the key driver. so a 5 minute eggroll ordered with a 15 minute pizza is NOT coming out in 5 minutes. Add to that the notion that other orders are already ahead on the "special request" and that 15 minute eggroll-pizza combo could take 25. Then we'd see the thread "do you believe i waited 25 minutes for an eggroll and pizza at ABC, I'm never going back." Gets jfood back to the old Gen-E (That the new Entitled Genration) comment that he posts often.

            And to your chicken breast comment. Why do you think restaurants needed to place the words "(For customers under 12 years old)" on the menu? Probably because adults were ordering from the children's menu the same item on the adult menu, but at a lower price point. Just more entitled-scamming.

            1. re: jfood

              In the example you gave, the eggroll and pizza shouldn't take longer than 15 minutes if the restaurant has a good system in place.

              The last restaurant I worked at handled timing in this way: Guest #1 orders a pizza and guest #2 orders a pasta main. I would order the pizza first and the ticket would print out in the pizza oven area only. I'd wait a few minutes and then place the line order for the pasta - I was responsible for timing it so that both dishes came up at the same time. Not that difficult to manage and timing is what good service is all about.

            2. re: soupkitten

              Why is that half the time my wife and I get our mains on top of our apps, even we specify otherwise? And when it was requested to be done the restaurant couldn't "deliver" as it were. Just another one of those unexplainable paradoxes of the world I guess... ;-D>

              1. re: Servorg

                Likely because the server (or the Back of The House if the responsibility lies there) failed to manage the timing well. Typically, a server would ring in the app and then wait until it was served and started by the guests. Then they would place the order for the entrees - this is generally speaking, different restaurants utilize different software programs and different approaches.

          2. The burden is on the parents, not the servers. I believe the burden is on the parents to take their children to only those restaurants whose atmosphere, serving speed, and menus will suit their children. If your children are too impatient to sit through the normal serving times of a restaurant, please do not take them to that restaurant. If you want your children to have healthy food and you consider the children's menu not healthy enough, order off the regular menu and split plates to make child-size portions. And please don't expect the server to take the trouble of getting prior approval from you before offering foods to your children; it's their job to offer food to restaurant guests, your children included. If none of this suits, just take the children to McDonald's or, better yet, train the children at the table at home until they can sit through a proper meal at a restaurant.

            2 Replies
            1. re: browniebaker

              With all due respect, I think your criticism is a bit harsh. It would seem to me that a restaurant has a self interest in providing a pleasing dining experience for its patrons. I do not feel like the OP was making unreasonable demands. Restaurants, today, seem to be willing to make accommodations for vegetarians, people with allergies, etc.. There are attitudinal shifts taking place on food today. The OP represents a constituency for somewhat healthier, though not extreme, fare for children. Though this constituency may not be a majority, the OP asks that it be recognized and that automatic assumptions not be made that kids (and their parents) will choose fat & sugar laden choices.

              Yes, parents can stay home & avoid worrying about their kid's behavior or the menu choices, but I don't see how that benefits the restaurateur. If the restaurant cannot accommodate quick service of the entree, than it would make sense to notify their customer, who may choose a few appetizers to make up a meal of small plates, or come up with another suitable solution. Not such a big deal.

              1. re: Rmis32

                "Yes, parents can stay home & avoid worrying about their kid's behavior or the menu choices, but I don't see how that benefits the restaurateur. If the restaurant cannot accommodate quick service of the entree, than it would make sense to notify their customer, who may choose a few appetizers to make up a meal of small plates, or come up with another suitable solution. Not such a big deal."

                To me, this just sounds like the family is in the wrong restaurant. If an entree takes a bit to prepare, it automatically doesn't strike me as kid-friendly.

            2. My question is not about the inappropriate behavor some kids exhibit due to their parents lack of manners but rather what can SERVERS do to make the visit of small children tolerable for everyone.
              @ brownie, i did not say i wasn't ordering food for my child, i just order off thr regular menu for him, but offering him a sugar filled drink then blaming me if he gets too excited, or too full to eat and therefor wants to run around is not fair.

              Also, if you think kids should not eat out most of the time, pls don't answer here. Lots of people don't have money for sitters or are on vaccation and don't want to trust yellow pages with their kids.

              14 Replies
              1. re: hala

                I am a parent who takes her two children to restaurants because they are able to sit patiently through an entire meal without my having to speed up the server, are able to order off a regular menu, and know better than to fill themselves up with sugary drinks.

                Ask not what servers can do "to make the visit of small children tolerable for everyone;" ask what YOU as the parent can do. Servers are just doing their jobs, and they should not have to do the job of parenting.

                For the record, I have hired a babysitter only two times in the 13 years I have been a mother. My children were taught to sit at table, and they have, from an early age, been able to eat politely in a variety of restaurants without my making extra demands on servers and without inconveniencing other patrons. No, my children are not super-human; it's all in the training.

                1. re: hala

                  I have to be completely honest and say: I think you are looking for servers to make the visit of small children tolerable for YOU.

                  I am not at all against people bringing children to a restaurant, and most people are not against children in restaurants, if they behave. It is up to YOU to be sure they behave. It is, actually, your job as a parent. If they do not, you are not somehow entitled to go out anyway, and expect others to suck it up and cut you the slack necessary so that you can have a good time.

                  1. re: hala

                    "what can SERVERS do to make the visit of small children tolerable for everyone."

                    If the patrons with the children are not present and everyone is having a good time and all is tolerable and then the patron shows up with the children that make everything intolerable. You expect the server to handle this versus the parents of the children? Wow, but that is absolutely not the role of the server. Way over the line, sorry.

                    And to your last paragraph, kids should eat out when they are capable of eating out under the social contract entered into between patrons and restaurants. Jfood as well as every parent he knows have made the phone call to friends, "sorry little jfood is not having a good day. Taking her to a restaurant tonight is not a good idea." It's part of being a parent, oh and by the way it is also being a good friend.

                    1. re: hala

                      "Lots of people don't have money for sitters"

                      So because someone's pushing their budget by eating out, but can't justify the expense of a sitter, it's okay? It's okay on one condition: that their kids behave. The problem is, there are a lot of people who haven't money for sitters whose children haven't a clue with regard to how to act in public.

                      So I, who work very hard so that I can afford to go out and relax, must suffer these people's children along *with* them, because they can't afford a sitter?

                      This reminds me of two losers who used to come to our bar once in a while. Their children were horrendous. They'd run around the restaurant. The little one exploded Cheerios and pretzels. The middle girl had a scream that would pierce you to your very core. Our staff would endure this without saying a word. Well, one night the parents told me the story of how they got the grandparents to stay with their kids so they could have a "getaway weekend." It turns out that there were a few very, very annoying children at the fairly expensive resort they were staying at that made their mealtimes and pool-times miserable. (I guess karma's a b*tch). When they finished telling me this story all I could say to them is "what was with these parents that they couldn't rein in their kids?" The response: "the parents were having a drink with us. The resort staff couldn't be bothered with taking care of the kids. They're never going there again... nobody took care of their kids!" Astonishing.

                      1. re: shaogo

                        Some people do not manage their children well when they go out. That topic has been amply covered on CH.

                        This thread is about servers and children. The points, about timing the food and using common sense when asking for an order give people a chance to discuss what they are looking for in a restaurant.

                        My child is far better behaved than most adults I see in better restaurants and certainly better company. I would like servers and restaurants to think about their children's menus and the protocol they use when soliciting orders from children. I don't think that is unreasonable and the suggestion that my interests and issues are inherently absurd because you knew someone once who didn't watch her kids seems illogical.

                        1. re: Kater

                          "My child is far better behaved than most adults I see in better restaurants and certainly better company"

                          I'm sure you feel this way but I wouldn't count on others to feel the same way.

                          "I would like servers and restaurants to think about their children's menus and the protocol they use when soliciting orders from children."

                          I really don't understand why servers should spend any time thinking about a children's menu. That isn't remotely close to any servers job description. As far as children's menus, you should vote with your wallet and support establishments that have menus you can order off of but to be honest I can't recall any restaurant in my neighborhood with a children's section and there are kids in them all the time.

                          1. re: KTinNYC

                            I am quite confident in my assessment of my child's behavior and charm, the compliments from servers, managers, owners, etc... confirm my suspicion that he is, in fact, the perfect child. The next time you find yourself seated beside a table of drunken braying fifty year old women hollering You Go Girl to each other, think of my and my perfect kid. You would be FAR better off if we were seated beside you!

                            The sentence you quote is poorly constructed. Servers should concern themselves with protocol while the 'restaurant' should think about the children's menu.

                            I am very willing to pay an appropriate price for a child sized portion of a real entree. I do not like that children are conditioned to believe that they must have chicken fingers, pasta with butter or a hamburger each time that they dine out.l In the absence of a real children's menu I always have my child order from the normal menu but this can get a little awkward when you're dining out with friends. I've noticed more and more better restaurants offering a junior entree to kids and I'm very happy to see it happen.

                      2. re: hala

                        sorry to be harsh and/or flippant but, if you do not have money for a sitter, you do not have money to eat at a restaurant. Period.

                        1. re: nkeane

                          I agree. It's like saying you can't afford to tip.

                          1. re: Leonardo

                            Add me to the agreement. And I hate lousy tippers as well, but that's another thread.

                            1. re: Leonardo

                              Now on this I've got to disagree. I don't have any kids but I have lots of friends that do. Babysitters these days can charge upwards of $5-10 an HOUR. Your average kids meal (or even half portion from the adult menu) is usually no more than $10. It is often more cost effective for young parents to take a small child out then to leave him home.
                              As for the whole kid's menu /sugared soft drink thing...I'm a server and have been one all of my adult life in all manner of restaurants . Very few places actually have decent kid's menus but most will happily help you by doing half portions or small plates for your wee one. If you don't want your kid to have a sugar rush then when the server comes over for drinks just say "I'll have blah-blah. And Junior would like milk/will stick to water, etc."
                              That being said I am seeing more and more kids just asking for water with their meals.

                            2. re: nkeane

                              << if you do not have money for a sitter, you do not have money to eat at a restaurant. Period. >>

                              That statement is as ridiculous as saying "if you can't afford 5 star, then you can't afford to eat out. Period."

                              1. re: just_M

                                What's a sitter run these days(I am blissfully unaware)? $10/hr? so a sitter for a few hours is probably $25-30? now the difference in price between a casual dinner for two and a table for two at Urasawa is $60 vs. $750. It's one thing to be able to eat out at the former but not be able to afford the latter. It's an entirely different situation if that $25 sitter is keeping you from eating at the casual spot.

                                Surely you see the difference there, right?

                          2. I agree, this is parental duties, not server's

                            1. Don't servers normally offer everyone drinks first thing? The reality is that most restaurants have juice or soft drinks on their non-alcoholic menu and servers are supposed to sell drinks. If your children misbehave merely at the mention of coke/juice then I think that's more of a parenting issue than a serving issue.

                              It's ultimately up to the parent if the child orders a sugary drink (and many studies have shown that sugar does NOT cause hyperactivity, but that is a subject that's been discussed in other threads) or fills him or herself up on food/drink before the main course arrives.

                              40 Replies
                              1. re: queencru

                                I know the server wants to sell drinks. why doesn't he/she just say: would you like a drink versus: would you like a grape/orange/apple juice (which is what a lot of them say) or Would you like a coke. How appropriate is that to a 2 year old? . I would then suggest milk or vegetable juice and no need to have another discussion about why sugary drinks are ok only occasionally and we just had one at lunch with grandma so we can't have another one today.

                                1. re: hala

                                  I think you as the parent should decide what drink is appropriate for YOUR two-year-old. Parents do differ on that issue. Please don't expect the server to preempt the struggle you have with your child over sugary drinks. You have to teach your child your rules about sugary drinks, not expect the server to enforce your rules by making sugary drinks unavailable to your child.

                                  1. re: hala

                                    Some parents are absolutely fine with giving their 2-year-olds sugary beverages. In fact I think most of my friends who have children that age let them drink juice, so I am not sure why it is so controversial. Some children can drink 3 Mountain Dews and have no behavioral problems whatsoever, while others will start to misbehave with just a few sips. No one is going to know that but the parent.

                                    1. re: hala

                                      Out of curiosity, why would you necessarily expect a server to understand what is or isn't appropriate for a 2,3,4,5 etc year old ? If they don't have children themselves and/or aren't around children much....how would they know?

                                      1. re: im_nomad

                                        True. And even more so - how would a server know what the OP deems appropriate for a child of a particular age? Surely there are parents who don't think their kid should be addressed directly while other parents fume that how dare the server refuse to address my child!

                                        1. re: akq

                                          For every server who gets this wrong there are five who get it right. The best approach balances the parents' authority with respect for the child. You're correct that I do not like it when servers presume that my child cannot order for himself. That is ridiculous though usually easy to correct by directing my son to answer when a server asks me a question meant for him.

                                          Respecting parental authority is a little trickier though most servers manage it. You begin by approaching the parent first when asking for an order. Successful servers will give me eye contact and ask 'for the kids?' and then I make it clear that they will order for themselves. A good server looks for my nod to confirm the order.

                                          The biggest problem, when there is one, is presumption and or the suggestive sell. Don't ask my child if he wants a Coke. Don't ask him if he wants dessert. If the meal comes with a choice of fries or salad DO NOT SAY "You want fries right?" TO MY CHILD. Just don't. If he orders clams on the half, do not grimace. I think that presumption lies at the heart of the problem. Every family is different. We do not all feed our children kid food, we do not all promote the idea that they only like certain things, and we do not all leave the decisions about soda or desserts up to our children.

                                          1. re: Kater

                                            I agree that not everyone is different, however I'd lean more in this situation to thinking that the server, by offering the child dessert or things perceived as "treats" for a child, they might just be trying to be nice. I don't get the anger over it.

                                            1. re: im_nomad

                                              It is not nice to offer a child something that he may not be allowed to have. I won't offer my own nieces and nephews ice cream without the nod from their parents because to do otherwise is incredibly presumptuous - and I am not going to bill my sister for the dessert I feed her kids!

                                              1. re: Kater

                                                I don't think the server is trying to be "nice' so much as do his/her job in selling food. The server wants to sell as much food as possible - that's why they try to get you to purchase apps, wine, mains, salad, soup, dessert, etc. They'd ask any other person at the table if he/she wanted cokes, fries, dessert, etc. so why not the kid? Why do stores put candy at the checkout stands? Why do they put kids rides and vending machines with cheap toys at the entrances and exits?

                                                1. re: akq

                                                  A good salesperson knows her customer. For the most part, my child is not picking up the check. Selling to my child, and you're correct - that is precisely what is going on - is a great way to lose me, the paying customer.

                                                  There is a great deal of difference between suggestive selling directed at an adult customer and suggestive selling directed at a child.

                                                  Remember, we're discussing the best way for servers to handle this. If you want a great tip from me, then remember parental authority when you interact with my child. If you offer him coke, fries and dessert, he and I will weather that error quite easily but I will not be happy, you won't get a great tip and I will not rush back.

                                                  1. re: Kater

                                                    Would it really be any different if the server looked at you while asking "Would the young man/lady like a coke/order of french fries/big yummy chocolate sundae?" If the kid is going to make a fuss over it, wouldn't he/she make a fuss after hearing about it that way?

                                                    Also, you are paying, but ask Disney who the customer is...kids drive a lot of their parents' spending, which is why marketing to kids (although perhaps unpopular with parents) is very common. If the kids love the resto and pester the parents to return, chances are they'll get to go back, right?

                                                    I agree with you that in a perfect world other people would respect parental authority...however I think you may be asking too much of servers who have a job to do (selling) and may be under strict orders about how to do so. You're asking the server to forego a sales opportunity (which directly impacts their and their employer's livelihood) in order to keep you happy (even though someone else in your situation may feel differently).

                                                    1. re: Kater

                                                      Are you saying servers should only suggestive sell to the paying member of the party? I've known parents who were the opposite of you. If the server didn't treat the child as a person, they were offended. Damned if they do, damned if they don't. As long as the server is friendly and brings things in a timely manner (given that everything is smooth), I'm happy. Sell directly to my children, don't sell to them, I don't care. I'm monitoring the situation and I can speak up and not expect them to read my mind on what I want. My daughter has allergies. I keep a watch on what she's ordering. I don't expect the server to be proactive for me. I think that's the same way with junk food.

                                                  2. re: Kater

                                                    By that logic, you should never offer a child anything because who knows what s/he may not be able to have. The child may have allergies, diabetes, or be on some other restricted diet, but resorting to asking the parent until the child looks to be of age just in case is ridiculous. After a child gets offered something she can't have more than once, she should learn that just because a server offers doesn't mean she's allowed to order it.

                                                    1. re: Kater

                                                      I may be drawn to agree with Kater because of her well written posts, but a waiter simply has to ask the child, "What would you like to drink?". It's not rocket science. That's how I always phrased it, at least.

                                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                        and if the child says, "I want coke please" ?

                                                        1. re: im_nomad

                                                          Look at the parent for confirmation. Again, not tough.

                                                      2. re: Kater

                                                        I get offered a dessert menu pretty much every time I go out. Regularly I get asked if I want an appetizer to start, or something from the bar. Is that presumptuous? It's a bit of a double standard to expect someone to know that the child can order for themselves, but at the same time, don't ask them if they want something.

                                                        1. re: im_nomad

                                                          Are you a child?

                                                          I am offered a great many things, with astonishing frequency, that are not the least bit appropriate for children.

                                                    2. re: Kater

                                                      How old should the child be before the server doesn't have to give you eye contact first? 7? 18? 15? 25? When they are paying for the meal? Your answer may certainly differ from another parent's answer.

                                                      The server is trying to sell cokes and fries. They ask the kids because the kids will say yes and the parents will give in. Same as why they bring the dessert menus or the dessert cart over...

                                                      1. re: akq

                                                        When the child appears to be at least 12 the server doesn't have to give eye contact first. Others may differ but that is jut because they've made an error.

                                                      2. re: Kater

                                                        I'm kinda confused. I can't offer your kid fries, but say that fries are the standard side for the kids meal, I'm pissing you off by mentioning it. You also made it clear that he'll be ordering for himself, so now I'm supposed to infer that he is allowed to order for himself but he may order inappropriate things and I need to go back to you to make sure his choices are ok?

                                                        And by this same logic, I shouldn't at all mention that fries, soda, or dessert are an option for the adults because what if he overhears "ice cream" and goes crazy?

                                                        Now you can see why many servers don't like waiting on parents.

                                                        1. re: Azizeh

                                                          I think I was pretty clear. Don't suggestively sell to my child, don't presume that he eats kid food and should choose the most childlike option when a choice exists.

                                                          "you want fries right?" transpired at a restaurant that offers a choice of salad or fries with children's meals

                                                          Don't guess what my child wants. He wanted a salad and when you walked away from the table asked "Am I supposed to choose fries?".

                                                          Teaching children to eat a wide variety of foods and make good choices is the road less taken today and dealing with a world that seems desperate to shove more fries into America's rapidly expanding children can be infuriating.

                                                          There is no reason for you to mention fries, soda or dessert. If they are available we know it because they are on your menu. Suggestive selling is for adults not kids. And if you want to up-sell my child you're better off suggestively selling the carpaccio!

                                                          1. re: Azizeh

                                                            Azizeh: Correct. You are expected to be a child development expert, as well as a psychic about the parental attitude of each customer with a kid. Is that a problem?

                                                          2. re: Kater

                                                            You're assuming all parents are like you. Servers cannot determine the type of parent someone is--I've heard parents who've been offended because servers didn't address the child as a person. These parents were probably happy with that one server you don't like. I've never expected a server to get my approval when my children order. If I want to monitor it, I'll speak up when they place the order. Just because the servers don't ask or look at me doesn't mean I can't just speak up. My kids order steamed mussels, sushi, etc. all the time and I've never gotten a grimace. I have to say grimace=never good, no matter what the age of the customer. In the case of the server doubting your child about the fries, if my child were confused, I'd speak up. "Thanks, but he loves salad." I have no problems with servers asking the whole table, including the kids or even especially the kids, if they want dessert. If I don't want them to have it, I tell the server, "We're passing on dessert, thanks!"

                                                            "Every family is different. We do not all feed our children kid food, we do not all promote the idea that they only like certain things, and we do not all leave the decisions about soda or desserts up to our children."

                                                            I think this says it all. Every family is different, every family has different expectations. While you don't feed your children kids food, many do. While you don't leave the decision about soda or dessert to kids, many do. Why go by your standards for all families?

                                                      3. re: hala

                                                        You're damning the server no matter which way they go/what they do.

                                                        Let's say the server *does* as you suggest and asks if you'd like a beverage. And you have to come back with, "What do you have?" While you're being addressed your child is srill going to hear the litany of sugery drinks. If parenting skills have been done properly, that will all be water off a duck's back - if your child is not getting Cokes and such at home, why would they ever even think they'd be able to get them at a restaurant?

                                                        1. re: green56

                                                          And as a former long-time server, I'd like to add that I've rarely worked in a place where you're allowed to ask any sort of open minded question without a specific suggestion such as "What would you like to drink?" You're not ALLOWED to phrase the question that way. You are trained that when asked a question such as "would you like dessert/to look at the desserts/to see the dessert menu," people generally respond "no," but if you either just bring the dessert cart without asking, or make a specific suggestion such as "Would you like to try one of our delicious cheesecakes? It's made in-house every day." or "Would you like to split a hot apple cobbler?" people are X% more likely to say yes. It's the same with drinks. You can't say "What would you like to drink," you have to specifically suggest something. And juice or milk is usually at least twice as much as soda, and does not include free refills. So while it might be more healthy to specifically say, "would you like a glass of milk or juice" instead of suggesting pop, then you get the parents complaining when they get the bill about the price of the drink! You cannot win.

                                                          The fact of the matter is, the standard and unfortunate "norm" of what children eat is the chicken fingers and pop and fries menu, so that is what is most often offered. If you are at a mexican place, the norm is margaritas so that might be what is suggested to the adults, but do you get offended if you are on a diet or are diabetic or are a recovering alcoholic and cannot consume margaritas? No. You just say no thank you, I'll have XYZ instead and move on, and children can be taught to do the same thing.

                                                          I firmly disagree that just because you don't have the $ for a sitter, you don't have $ to go out to eat. I like eating as a family, not throwing twice as much money out the door because I want to eat just with mr. RNR. Children are a part of society and are not forbidden to be in restaurants, so we will be there, along with the annoyingly loud Red Hat Society ladies, the obnoxious teenagers and the rowdy, game-watching dudes. There is no "ideal" customer group.

                                                          1. re: rockandroller1

                                                            I think the sitter answer was in response to not necessarily wanting to take the children along, but having to, due to lack of money for babysitters. That would sort of only make sense if you weren't planning on buying the child a meal. It's sort of like saying you don't have money to put gas in your car, and then going out and buying a new pair of shoes.

                                                            With regard to the food, i'm a little curious as to what the OP ordered for their own meals.

                                                            1. re: rockandroller1

                                                              "There is no "ideal" customer group."

                                                              Disagree. Businessmen are the ideal customer group.

                                                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                Businessmen are the ideal customer group.

                                                                ....unless they are plicks.

                                                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                  Seriously? And what about businesswomen?

                                                                  These threads really bring out the best in people.

                                                                  1. re: mjhals

                                                                    Women don't eat as much as men, resulting in smaller checks. Women also tend to tip less.

                                                                    These are just generalities, of course.

                                                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                      Yes, and you are good about making a lot of them.

                                                                  2. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                    You're free to disagree, but as a former server, I definitely don't agree that businessmen are the ideal customer group. Some hint that they'd like company at their hotel. Many tip quite small because they're told to keep business expenses down and they feel cheated because they have to pay for their alcohol, so they gyp you on the tip, many are just 10 percenters because that's how they've been since the 60s. And some bring work and camp at your table for 2 hours because they don't want to go work in a lonely hotel.

                                                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                      Correct me if I'm wrong RR1, but your experience in service was at chain restaurants, right? I think that might account for your different experience.

                                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                        primarily, yes. A couple of smaller indies but they were lunch places.

                                                                        Edited to add, I'm guessing I'm also in a completely different state or at least part of the country than invino, given his post below about the wines. We don't even have restaurants here where you could run up that kind of bill without really, really trying, let alone customers that would "grease you with a hundy" on the way out. Welcome to the midwest.

                                                                      2. re: rockandroller1

                                                                        That's a completely different experience than I've had. Businessmen were the most likely to overorder and to choose expensive wine, since they're paying with someone else's money.

                                                                        Tuesday, I sold wine to a $1200 table of six, a $400 table of four, a $350 table of three, a $300 table of two, amongst others. They were all 20% tipping businessmen- the four top greased me with an extra hundy on the way out, to boot.

                                                                  3. re: green56

                                                                    Your question implies that when a server offers my child juice or Coke she has provided us with a full beverage menu.

                                                                    Never has a server approached the table and asked my child if he wanted milk or seltzer water. Neither my child nor I has responded to a beverage order request by asking What do you have?

                                                                    The reason that children who do not drink Cokes at home think they may be getting them at restaurants is that some servers imply that it is the only liquid on the premises!

                                                                    1. re: Kater

                                                                      My brother and I were not allowed to drink sugary drinks and we knew this. We knew this from as young as I can remember. If a server asked if we would like a Coke we knew to say "No thank you". My PARENTS made sure of that. It was never a problem.

                                                                      1. re: Kater

                                                                        Then you are remiss for not educating your child better and prior to eating out. "It ain't gonna happen kid. You'll get what you get at home on and that's that."

                                                                        You and I both know better whatever the server suggests is *not* "the only liquid on the premises!". Shame on you. You need to teach your child better and educate them prior to entering the restaurant. Any kid that goes off just because a server asked if they want a soda has a parent that can't set boundaries.

                                                                2. Come on, think about what the OP is saying and asking.

                                                                  The OP knows that her nephew had a limited attention span so she asked for a fast paced meal. A restaurant should be able to accommodate if they can or notify the diner that they can't. The server failed to provide that. If someone who had a pre show reservation with expensive theatre tix and posted the same "25 min wait for utensils and an additional 45 min delay because of slow service" complaint I doubt the responses would be the same.

                                                                  Wanting a healthy kids meal. Really? Does anyone really think that this is an unreasonable request for a parent to make? Why should they have to order adult portions of simple/ healthy prepared food?

                                                                  And not wanting soda or other sugary drinks offered to her kids reminds me of all the up selling threads.

                                                                  Communication is key and it seems to me that's all the OP is trying to do.

                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                  1. re: viperlush

                                                                    "Wanting a healthy kids meal. Really? Does anyone really think that this is an unreasonable request for a parent to make? Why should they have to order adult portions of simple/ healthy prepared food? "

                                                                    How is this the servers responsibility? The server doesn't make the menu. If the menu doesn't have something for your child then you should arrange to go some place else.

                                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                        No one said that it is the servers responsibility to make a healthy kids menu. The OP is talking about the food industry as a whole. And the OP isn't complaining about a lack of a kids menu, just the inadequacy of the standard kids menu.

                                                                        1. re: viperlush

                                                                          Perhaps, but the title is pretty specific.

                                                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                            True, but then I read <I thought i would start a thread on the needs of families dining out with little children in the hope that people in the restaurent industry would see what type of things parents feel their children need so everyone can have a good dining experience.> and felt that a broader interpretation was appropriate.

                                                                      2. re: viperlush

                                                                        I agree with viperlush that the main point here is the "speed of service" not the child. The OP specifically stated they "Ordered immediately, told her to bring all the apps. and the mains at the same time." That was not honored, and the main entrees came much later. Also 20 min. wait for flatware? We used to eat with my husband's elderly parents and they would have thrown a fit in that situation. Worse than a small child, because they were vocal about their frustration, and 5 min. was too long to wait for ANYTHING!

                                                                        Another point about the drinks, and child's menu - I have not been in a situation where a server specifically offered any type of drink for a child. For adults they usually steer you towards a mixed drink, or some wine, but for children, they should (and usually do) just ask what they would like to drink, while looking at the parents for a nod of approval. The children's menu is a problem, sometimes, but not always. We went out with our family last week and there were 3 grandkids involved. The oldest (7) wanted a cheeseburger and a salad for his side. The server kept asking him if he wanted french fries instead. He got a bit confused, and we were too, because it clearly said that salad was a side item offered. He almost waffled on it, because he wanted a few fries, but he would rather have vegetables. So his grandfather offered to share his fries, and I made it clear to the server to bring him a salad - darn it! The boy ate his salad, burger, half of the broccoli that came with my order, and a few fries. The server must be used to passing out fries to children, instead of healthier items. And that is too bad. If there hadn't been a vegetable/salad option on the child's menu, we would have ordered him a healthy side from the adult menu. We would not have walked out to find a different restaurant. And the title of this thread is "servers and children", not "unhealthy children's menu." That is just another thing that the OP brought up.

                                                                        1. re: danhole

                                                                          Exactly, can't tell you how many times we discussed the menu with my child and then the server kept offering him fries after he ordered veggies. he is in his "fries make my tummy hurt" stage so for now and i would like to encourage him to turn that into a permanant "too many fries hurt my tummy" attitude.

                                                                          1. re: hala

                                                                            That's a shitty server (I can say that, as a long-time table-jockey).

                                                                            Frankly, the kid ain't paying the bill. You please the parents and tolerate the kid, unless you're an idiot.

                                                                      3. When I interact with children at our restaurant I'm doing so after having gotten permission from the parents. The answer to all of the OP's concerns lies in treating young guests the same way one treats adults. It's amazing how even the little ones rise to the occasion when they feel that they're involved in the ordering process.

                                                                        Who knows why servers don't focus the attention on getting food right away for our youngest guests... I don't have kids but I do know that what seems like a few minutes to us seems like an eternity to a child's attention span. We always have some sesame noodles or little dumplings around to give to a child we know is going to have to wait for his/her entree.

                                                                        And about entrees. Sadly, restaurateurs are impelled by many parents to offer the fat- and sugar-heavy "childrens' menu" options that we do. These parents are being held hostage by their children, who refuse to eat unless they can get some chicken fingers -- or worse, a plain hot dog (in the Chinese restaurant, no less). The best way to get a great meal for your child is to order a great meal for yourself and share some. With all the complaining about huge portion sizes these days, I can't see that it's bad to give your child what you would normally put in a doggie bag.

                                                                        And mom, you could return the favor by doing your best to contain foods that you bring for the toddlers and babies. Cheerios, puffed wheat and other cereals seem to be really popular these days. It's fine if your child wants to eat them. Just don't let your child spread them all over the floor/furniture etc.

                                                                        Finally, it is the novice server who's not aware of the problems with giving children *anything* from the soda/juice gun. All that stuff's full of sugar, and some of it caffeine. A tiny cup full will send a calm, enjoyable child into a tantrum. Personally, I dread what's going to happen when mom brings her pre-schoolers into the restaurant and orders "Cokes all around." Doesn't this woman know that they're all going to spin into orbit if they drink a large coke?

                                                                        Not every parent is as conscientious as the OP. Would that more were, we'd all get along better together.

                                                                        1. Your last point is a real pet peeve of mine. Well trained servers who get excellent tips from me have the good sense to give me eye contact and wait for me to indicate that my child can order on his own. Afterward they give me eye contact again and I confirm the order. Sadly some servers don't do this and even offer my child dessert without getting and OK. That is really inappropriate and shows a lack of respect for the customer.

                                                                          Also the state of children's menus is appalling. We do not use them because in all but a few restaurants they are simply dumbed down menus full of 'kid food' that is ridiculously high in fat and calories, often contains absolutely no vegetables and trains children to believe they cannot eat like normal human beings. I resent that restaurants take it upon themselves to market that sort of thing to my child. We have recently found a few restaurants that offer junior sized portions of their normal entrees to children and I always make a point of thanking them profusely.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Kater

                                                                            and i am not sure why people are accusing me of wanting 4 dollar gourmet meals for my son. I never said they should loose money on it.

                                                                            1. re: hala

                                                                              You certainly didn't. Just because some parents want their children to eat $4 chicken nugget and fry meals in full service restaurants doesn't mean that we all do.

                                                                          2. Jfood thinks there are two buckets that are being asked in this thread. One specific to ALL patrons and the second for the OP.

                                                                            Speed of service - In the event that any patron asks for a quick service, the restaurant should either say it can or cannot do this. BUT, there is some onus on the patron who is looking for quick service to maybe call ahead and see if this is a request that can be satisfied. Else we would see the thread "Do you believe I asked for quick service at ABC and they said not, I'm never going back."

                                                                            Kids have limited patience - Excuse me but not all kids do. And some do on certain days and do not on others. The role of a parent is to understand the good focus days and allow more as well as the bad focus days and adjust the schedule accordingly. Thery're kids, not robots. i.e. adults fall into this good / bad day syndrome as well.

                                                                            Took about 20 minutes after food was served to get utensils - That should have been addressed when you were seated. Seems that both parties had some guilt on this. When jfood sits at a table and notices no utensils he asks immediately or at least when the food is ordered. BTW - just as an aside, jfood would bet a lot of money on under 20 minutes as the timeframe. No way you sat there for 20 minutes after the food was served, sorry but this does not pass the smell test.

                                                                            The main showed up long after all the apps - so they did not bring the food simultaneously and that is a bad thing for the restaurant, whether or not their were children, teens or the elderly. They agreed to all at the same time, that should have occured.

                                                                            By the end the child wanted to get up and run - If the child did then the parents need to either (a) stop it or (b) take them outside. Having children run in a restaurant is bad form on the parents.

                                                                            Another thing i would like is having healthy children's menus - As others have stated, it is the parent's job to take the children to restaurants that serve a meal that they want their children to have. Jfood did not go to LOTS of places while raising the two little jfoods. Yes, he does agree that it would be nice to have these options, but there is always the option to order an adult healthy choice, serve some and take the rest home. Jfood has never done the math, but he thinks there is not a whole lot of profit in the childrens menu versus the adult menu. Just a feeling.

                                                                            If you are a server, and the first thing you do when you get to the table is offer my son juice or coke or any other sugar filled drink without checking with me, know that you have made me really mad at you - Sorry, way over the line on this. The server approaches the table and asks for drink orders. If you truly believe that s/he is some sort of mindreader and knows that your child requires special permission versus the other children in the restaurant you need to cut them a break. How about being a little proactive versus reactive? Tell the person who seats you to please inform the server about your special requests. You are just another table and your son/nephew is just another patron. The first thing servers do when they approach jfood at dinner is to ask him if he wants a cocktail, but he does not drink alcohol, don't they know. Or even after jfood telling the server 3 times about a nut allergy he tells him the special dessert has hazlenut gellato. A simple no thank you and a smile works like a charm keeping both out of jfood's system.

                                                                            Bottom line is you are asking for a lot of extras, and bad news is your probably going to be disappointed more than satisfied. It's part of parenting, every parent thinks that little johnnie is cute running around the restaurant, not; everyone has some spevial food they cannot eat; all will have good days and bad days. The role of the parent is to be fexible, raise them as they see fit, but still understand there are others that come into play when you venture out ino the real world.

                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                              Very well said jfood. This may very well have been a no-so-great restaurant or server for all we know, but it doesn't become that much worse simply because it was a child.

                                                                              And yes, I would say that there is a cost issue with kids menus. The stuff that's on there is on there in part because it's a cheap fill for the cost they're asking. I'd imagine that if they upped the prices in order to offer salads and beans and skinless chicken breasts, there would be a different complaint. LOTS of times I go to a restaurant and the choice I might like is not on the menu. Some of them are mighty tempting when it comes to breaking a healthy diet, and those are often the cheapest too (or am I the only one who gets charged extra for a side salad instead of fries?). However, it's still my job to deny myself them or not go to that restaurant.

                                                                              And yes, I also agree with the whole running thing. It is not ok simply because there were no other patrons there. Nor was the place "empty". There were still staff walking around.

                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                here's the deal. There were utensils on the table. she pushed them to one side away from the child. When she brought the soup (the first dish out) she took with her all the utensils that were on the table. so, we were kind of stuck having to flag her and ask her to bring utensils back. He did not actually run. he walked around the table asking to leave (we were waiting for the bill). But seriously, what servers? by the time we finished the servers had finished cleaning and had left the room. Yup, i did ask for the bill when the last dish hit the table. Do you think i got it?

                                                                                As for all the people saying don't go out without a sitter, people don't eat out only for entertainment. People work and sometimes they have to eat out because mommy had a meeting that was supposed to end at 4 and ran till 6 and now there's no food at home. What, the parents should go out and eat and leave the kids home? or order a pizza? Sure you could pick up food, but you would still have to clean up after the meal.
                                                                                And what about the stay at home mom who likes to go out every now and then and have lunch out with her kids? She has no right to go out? Let her lock herself at home and deal with depression. And I can't take my kid so he can taste and learn about ethnic food that i don't know how to cook? Or just take him out for a treat?

                                                                                You guys are making horrible assumptions about me and my childrearing skills and my honesty (trying to scam restaurents??!!!!) . I will not dignify them with an answer. Like i said, i wanted a debate on what people in the restaurent industry can do to make the dreaded child customer less feared. If you don't want to talk about that, fine with me.

                                                                                Or, we could have an adult conversation where you post answers that have specific suggestions about what people can do to make things better. your choice.

                                                                                1. re: hala

                                                                                  "You guys are making horrible assumptions about me and my childrearing skills and my honesty (trying to scam restaurents??!!!!) . I will not dignify them with an answer. Like i said, i wanted a debate on what people in the restaurent industry can do to make the dreaded child customer less feared. If you don't want to talk about that, fine with me.

                                                                                  Or, we could have an adult conversation where you post answers that have specific suggestions about what people can do to make things better. your choice."

                                                                                  Welcome to the NAF board. Please stay seated while complete strangers will evaluate your persona based on a question posted for adult conversation/discussion.

                                                                                  Really. Good luck with that!

                                                                                  1. re: hala

                                                                                    Yo dudette, chill, please post your responses to the correct post, jfood did not say anything about half of this diatribe.

                                                                                    Para 1 - Suggestion 1 - "excuse me, please do not take the utensils," or Suggestion 2 (he has done this) If there were two adults, then one could have gone off to find a server, just a thought. jfood still takes under as his bet on 20 minutes. And it was your exact word "run". jfood's comment on children running in the last para was a general comment on parents, hence the separation from the rest of the response.

                                                                                    But since you posed some questions in para 2, jfood's opinion is as follows. If the child (not yours in particular since the question seemed general) is not capable of handling a restaurant setting then yes, said parents do take-out, whether pizza or any other cuisine. Unfortunately people do have to clean up after the meal on take out or eat on paper plates. The SAHM and going out with the kids. If they cannot handle it just yet she needs to work on that skill set and then venture into the world, similar to walking and driving...baby steps first. And if people (again general) want full flexibility in their lives, kids ain't the answer. The jfoods flew to Orlando once as a family for a week in Disney. One child woke up ill the first day. What to do? They flew home to make sure she recuperated. Missing a simple eating out experience pales in comparison.

                                                                                    Para 3 - Huh? Jfood did not comment at ALL about your parenting skills and has no idea if you even have children. Your OP stated you took your nephew. Apology accepted. And if you connected jfood's response to you individually, jfood apologizes, he was responding to soupkitten, in fact you did not mention at all about what was ordered.

                                                                                    And Jfood gave a cogent and detailed POV. BUT, in jfood's experience of raising 2 children, now both in their 20's he would state that ~90% (probably higher) of the issues that he saw in restaurants were caused by the customer, not the restaurant.

                                                                                    1 - Hazards created by strollers (notice the word stroller as in stroll = walk does not equal park, or else they would have be called parkers). These things are a hazard to the child inside getting something spilled on them (i.e. hot soup), a hazard to everyone around them. If the stroller can not be safely tucked out of the way, sorry, no table for the parent.
                                                                                    2 - Total disrespect - let's put some examples jfood has witnessed - food thrown at other tables (ever get hit with a baby back rib?), 2.5 pounds of cheerios scattered within a 5' span of the table then just get up and leave, major tantrum with the parent ingnoring or stating "that's just how things are with children"; poopy diapers changed on the table, requested undivided attention from the server for the child, child running around the room, jfood's favorite is getting trashed and then driving child home, sloppy hands all over the food in a buffet, major illness on the part of the child and still gotta go to lunch, etc.

                                                                                    Restaurants should try to be a little more focus on individual needs, wouldn;t that be nice. But servers have numeerous tables with numerous people per table and numerous views on what a server should do. So having the server know 100% of the time the correct answer is a pipe dream. Should they have something other than fried food on the children's menu? sure, but if they do not sell any during a pilot program, those items are history, a restaurant is not a charity. Should they key off the parents on whether to address the child or the parent. Some posters have said do not speak with my child, jfood totally disagrees and wanted his children to learn how to order directly with the server. Should they immediately ask if the child wants a soda? of course there will be differing opinions, all of them both correct and incorrect. Each table would be different.

                                                                                    As jfood stated in his first sentence, there are issues you encountered that were wrong by the restaurant whether there was a child present or not, they were compounded because you had a child with, but restaurants are businesses that are trying to make ends meet, and maybe a profit. If people are looking for individualized attention and knowledge, people will be more disappointed than satisfied.

                                                                                2. Wouldn't the drinks issue be easily solved by having a parent respond to the server's query, "are you ready to order," with, "yes, my son will have (drink) and (main dish), and I will have..." This would end any questions directed at the child about beverages.

                                                                                  I have to agree with everyone else though about having everything served at once when you order appetizers. I'm also not sure that I see the point in getting it all at once since the child will be less impatient with something on the table quickly while waiting for the main dish. I can't speak to the kid's menus, though it is often the case that they're bad-carbohydrate overloaded. The thing is that I think most people go to restaurants for a "special" meal and those are supposedly the kinds of things kids enjoy and might want as a rare treat. I don't know though. I think making a suggestion to the manager might be the way to go, but I've read on many occasions that healthy food is put on menus and removed because too few patrons order it.

                                                                                  The other stuff was just bad service and specific to the restaurant rather than something related to having children.

                                                                                  1. I am a parent (of grown up kids) and have been a server.

                                                                                    Rule #1 - my kids were not allowed to ask the server for anything - all orders or requests to the server had to come through me or my husband. That included extra napkins, silverware, more water.

                                                                                    Rule # 2 - as a server I never looked at the kids regarding offering them drinks or food preferences. I always directed my questions to the parents. If a child asked me for something I would check first with the parents.

                                                                                    Today when I take my kids out - they are all over 18 they STILL ask me if it's alright to have x and y before they order. Of course they will order for themselves but we discuss the menu first and they ask me if it's ok for them to have a cocktail or something expensive.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: jenhen2

                                                                                      I think you may have missed the word "were", were not. As in the past, when they were kids and now it seems as they ask when they are not paying.

                                                                                    2. I am a little surprised at some of the negative comments. I interpreted the original post as a wishlist for how servers should treat parties with young kids in tow, presumably at places that are appropriate for kids that age, not a list of demands that every restaurant must follow.

                                                                                      As the mom of a toddler, I love places that provide speedy service, reasonably healthy food in an appropriate portion for my son, and no suggestions of specific bad-for-you foods directed at him.

                                                                                      I agree that asking for the apps and mains at once wasn't an effective way to get speedy service, but given that you asked first if you could be served quickly, the server should have then advised you that the food would come out quicker if apps came first. I always ask ahead at an unfamiliar place too, checking before we go in to see if it's okay to bring a small child and if they'll be able to serve us quickly.

                                                                                      I also always bring a healthy snack with me, so even if the food takes forever and/or the only thing he can eat is fried chicken fingers, he's got his little bowl of carrots and crackers and he won't starve. (Yes, I know, your kid loves mole and uni, but my kid has textural issues with a fair number of things on a typical adult plate, isn't an expert with utensils, and can't eat food that's too spicy. If that upsets you, feel free to opine on one of the many, many CH threads on How and What Parents Should Feed Their Kids.)

                                                                                      I second the plea to servers not to offer stuff to our kids that they shouldn't have. I can't tell you how many times a well-intentioned server has leaned over and smiled at my kid, "Would you like some juice?" or "How about some ICE CREAM?" I know they're trying to be nice, but I also know that this will mean lots of whining when I override his order.

                                                                                      1. We've had to remove a number of contentious responses from this thread, and the discussion as a whole is increasingly unfriendly. We're going to lock this topic now.