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Aug 8, 2013 04:05 AM

So much for tip shaming, now we've moved on to messy kid shaming

At least the restaurant didn't identify the parents, they did that themselves.

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  1. Wow. Just wow. There's an owner who really does not need to be in the hospitality business.

    1. Yeah... no. They are 3 and 1, for God's sake. Kids make messes sometimes.

      Now, when adults make messes like that? That's another story. (My family went to a restaurant I frequent for my birthday. We go there often enough that the staff knows what we're going to order. My step-dad and step-brother made the most God-awful mess.... I was on my hands and knees picking rice and crumbs off the carpet after they went outside.)

      1. Everyone in this story is just wrong. The parent should work with her kids on not eating like savages. IF they make a mess, help pick it up for crying out loud! No restaurant is responsible for picking up after my child when eating, especially if the mess is at all excessive. My daughter is almost three and has NEVER made a mess like that in public. And when she does, I pick it up. The restaurant wins no points by posting the picture of the mess. I get that it's annoying, but seriously not a good business practice! UGH all around....

        4 Replies
        1. re: jes7o

          Am I seeing a different picture than you? It really doesn't look that bad to me.

          1. re: donovt

            There is no way I would leave that for someone else to clean up. It's not the mother of all messes....but still...I would take the time to pick up the pieces. I probably wouldn't have chosen a scone either, as they are notoriously crummy and you're just asking for a mess...but to each their own.

            1. re: jes7o

              I agree. Not the worst mess but it was a mess. The owner may have overreacted but maybe this was the icing on the cake for her. I've been in restaurants where the parents allow their kids to do that - and a lot worse. After they leave the wait staff comes over and has to clean up the mess. They never say anything. And there are many times things should be said and not necessarily about the mess the kids leave.

          2. re: jes7o

            I'm usually in the "kids are animals in restaurants" camp, but from what I understand they were in the middle of eating when the manager came over. So maybe the mother would have cleaned up the mess but never had the opportunity. I'm with the mom on this one.

          3. Two things I've come to know for certain about every parent. (1) They f*ck up their kids in some way, no matter how hard they try not to do so. And (2) They all think that their kids are better behaved in public than they really are. These ladies managed to prove both simultaneously.

            Granted, the Facebook bullshit* was a spiteful move, but it's not like she put up pictures of the Mommies or their names.

            *Sorry if that's redundant.

            1. Wow. The "mess" doesn't even look that bad. Many adults can't even eat scones without leaving crumbs. But, there's nothing wrong with the owner being annoyed, but she approached it all wrong. I agree with rockycat that maybe the owner is in the wrong business for both approaching the customer and telling them not to come back with their kids, and for posting it on facebook. I also think if you own a coffee shop, especially in an area where families live (no idea if that's the case here), then you need to be ready for kids as customers.

              I will say, we were eating at a Thai restaurant, and I was pretty shocked at the mess a family left, they had a baby in a high chair and a toddler. There was rice EVERYWHERE, all over the table and the surrounding floor. I don't have kids, but if that was me, I'd at least try to tidy up the table before leaving.

              10 Replies
              1. re: juliejulez

                Having small children (It's always the 1 year old) who do make messes (it's not a control thing, it's a kid thing, and no, we don't take him out often, but we do occasionally bring him along to a coffee shop or other casual restaurant, and if he's eating he's happier) sometimes you leave because it's time to leave before the kids start getting unpleasant. When our kids make messes, if we can't clean it up, we do try to leave a big tip to take some of the sting off.

                FWIW, our six year old does not make messes in restaurants anymore. At least, not on purpose. We all occasionally spill a glass of water.

                1. re: juliejulez

                  Don't families live everywhere?

                  I'll never forget taking my mother (who I recall had children herself) to an old-fashioned soda fountain. There were other people there with their kids, who were behaving quite normally, nothing obnoxious. And she said audibly, "Why would people bring their children here?!" I replied it was a neighborhood place (in fact the neighborhood is mentioned in the name of the business), and she said, "What neighborhood is around here??"

                  Some people just don't like kids. Perhaps this coffee shop owner can cater to them.

                  1. re: foiegras

                    "I'll never forget taking my mother (who I recall had children herself)..."


                    1. re: foiegras

                      Yes but some areas have more than others. For example, I live in an outer suburb NE of Denver. I would say 80% of our neighbors have children. If we lived downtown, the ratio would probably go down to below 50%. It's pretty much a given that if we go eat anywhere near our house, there will be a decent amount of families eating there. Not so much when we go out downtown.

                      According to the 2010 census, nearly 30% of the 28,069 residents of Lake Stevens, WA (where this happened), were under the age of 18. That's a pretty decent percentage so I think it's safe to assume that most business should be accustomed to people bringing their children in.

                      1. re: juliejulez

                        Yes, Lake Stevens is a suburb of Seattle...definitely an area for people to raise kids rather than an urban type of feel or population.

                        I find it interesting that the main page of the restaurant's own website references their proximity to the local high school, library, and boys' and girls' club. Hard to imagine that they could expect to have a child-free clientele.

                        1. re: jlhinwa

                          You know, I just also want to point out that this place isn't really a "restaurant." It's a cafe, er, caffe, (or at least they call themselves one), which sets the expectation that this is a very casual kind of place. In Minnesota, anyway, most cafes (not sure about caffes, though!) go out of their way to solicit the "mommy" crowd's business, often providing childrens books and toys. In fact we have two cafes that have room devoted to a children's play area.

                          They have no menu on their website, but they mention coffee, pastries and panini. They do not do anything to lead a potential customer to believe that this would be the kind of place where children, even the messy ones, would not be welcome.


                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            There's nothing specifically indicating that small children are welcome, either. If I were accompanying small children in public, I would be looking for the sort of explicit signals you describe (kid's menu, toys, play area), and not simply relying on my expectations of how a café ought to operate. Walking into this café and seeing no facilities specifically catering to the mommy crowd, I would understand that my kids and I are at best only tolerated here, and depending on how my kids were acting that day (or in general), I would probably think, not the best choice for us. If for some reason I decided to stay anyway, I would be especially conscious of the fact that a neutral reaction can all too easily turn into a hostile reaction, depending on my kids' behavior and my (in)ability to deal with it effectively.

                            1. re: DeppityDawg

                              There's nothing specifically on the website indicating that, except they make a point to put their proximity to the "family center" on the map on their website and talk in their blog about participating in fundraising for some family-oriented event, which could lead one to believe they are trying to appeal to families.

                              Of course, I haven't been to the cafe, but I suppose if I got there and it was all fine china and white tablecloths, I might turn around and leave, thinking that perhaps I've misunderstood the nature of the establishment, that this isn't really a casual caf(f)e.

                              To be honest, I'm not going to eat anywhere where a member of my party is "at best only tolerated" when it ought to otherwise be acceptable for that person to eat there. I'm not talking about bringing my toddler to The French Laundry, of course, that would be ridiculous. But, a cafe that serves pastries and sandwiches is very typically the kind of environment where a toddler should be welcome, even if it doesn't specifically don't market themselves to children.

                              Of course, badly behaved customers (drunkards, loudmouths, etc.) OF ANY AGE are a different story.

                              Lastly, I'm not going to restrict myself to eating to only establishments that serve chicken nuggets and pizza for the next 5 years. Sometimes, I might just want panini and I'm gong to bring my child with me because he's a human being and eats food, too. There's no reason for us all to live in some sanitized version of the world where there are no children.


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                No one is telling you to restrict yourself to chicken nuggets and pizza for 5 years, much less denying the humanity of your child and seeking to cleanse society of his presence. I don't know where these ideas came from. But it is a fact that small children _are_ a restriction, and any establishment that isn't obviously child-friendly may turn out to be child-unfriendly, or specifically unfriendly to loud and messy children. In fact I would think that most establishments fall into this category. Those places are not necessarily off-limits to parents with small children, but they are situations where parents have to be especially vigilant of their children's behavior and prepared to take immediate action in case of noise/mess.

                                As you say, we don't know the café in this story, or the people involved, and we didn't witness the events. I doubt that the mother was completely in the right, and the café owner completely in the wrong, or vice versa. Their stories are so divergent that I have to suspect that neither one is completely true. But I can say that the mother took a risk by choosing to bring her children to this café, and the owner took a risk by accepting to serve them. It turned out badly for both of them, but also for all the other customers, who had this risk forced upon them.

                                1. re: DeppityDawg

                                  Your first sentence makes me laugh. :) But I agree with everything you've said. Someone upthread (downthread? I have no idea where I am in this thread) said both parties over-reacted and I agree with that; your second point kind of reinforces that.

                                  The truth is, restaurants (even cafes) are in the hospitality business and customers are in the paying to be a guest business. The restaurant (and other patrons) take the risk of having to deal with bad customers and customers take the risk of being served bad food. But, it is part of the expectation that the restaurants try to be the best hosts they can and customers be the best guests they can. At least, that's my expectation.

                                  If you aren't willing to assume those risks and/or do your best to meet those expectations, I wish you'd get out of the hosting/guesting business and find another job/eat at home.