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"No Strollers — No High Chairs — No Booster Chairs"

A restaurant in Monterey, California:


My kind of place.

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  1. "...Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the Monterey’s Peninsula’s biggest tourist attractions and some say the sign at the restaurant is sending the wrong message."

    Doesn't seem like the wrong message for this business' owner. He's had the policy in place for two years now, and he's still in business. Obviously enough people really like the policy. It works for him, or his profit-loss statement would've taken a big hit, and he'd have changed it by now.

    Just because someplace is a tourist attraction doesn't mean everything around it has to accommodate children. Seriously, childless or older adults *do* travel to tourist attractions without any children in tow, and they just *might* like to eat someplace without any children. Yes, even in Summer.

    1. I actually grew up nearby. The entire fisherman's warf area is almost exclusively tourists and the community at large is very child friendly.
      That specific restaurant considers itself one of the "fancy" restaurants in the immediate area, and from that point of view I can understand the (very successful and very wealthy) restaurant owner's point of view.

      There are many other options on the warf itself with similar seafood centric menus for dinner with poorly behaved children.

      (Ps if you ever are in the area Massaro and Santos on the coast guard pier has the same great view yet much better food than the warf restaurants, and minimal tourists)

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ttrockwood

        Do they allow sleeping babies in car seats and well behaved children that have been taught how to behave in restaurants?
        No screeching. No tantrums. No throwing food. No throwing toys. No crawling around tables. No running around tables.
        Sounds family friendly to me.

        1. Sounds good to me. If I happen to have the grandkids I will just find a place with Happy Meals. No Problem. Otherwise it is peace and quiet,at a restaurant that more or less promises me that.

          1. More restaurants should ban or discourage small children. If you can't afford a babysitter, you really can't afford to go to a nice restaurant, either.

            Oh ... it's on the wharf in Monterey? Right, a tourist hellhole if ever there was one. But even in touristic locales, there should be at least one or a few restaurants strictly for people who are quiet, housebroken and know how to eat with a knife and fork ... or chopsticks, if that's appropriate.

            1. I don't see the big deal. It's not like the majority of restaurants, particularly in high tourist-traffic locations, are going to follow suit, so any parents getting their knickers in a twist over not being catered to in every single restaurant is just obnoxious.

              And now cue people chiming in about awful drunks, loud adults, etc. It's funny, I've never seen a Chowhounder yet whose kids were anything but perfect restaurant patrons!

              13 Replies
              1. re: LeoLioness

                My nephew, while under my care during potty training once happily peed on a restaurant floor. At least he did it standing!

                1. re: LeoLioness

                  I'll cop to rotten kid behavior. When my second was about 16 months, he reached over the high chair and yanked the table cloth at a somewhat nice italian restaurant, spilling wine, knocking bread to the floor, etc. Fortunately, we were there early and the place was not at all full. We didn't take him back to a decent place until he was nearly 4.

                  1. re: tcamp

                    I think most people are forgiving when parents respond. It's the parents who just laugh and think everyone should put up with it who annoy the other patrons. So, if your child unexpectedly reached over and did that, I wouldn't bat an eye. But if your child had been having a fit, throwing things and pulling tablecloths and finally pulled one over, I'd have a different response.

                    1. re: chowser

                      Exactly. That just sounds like typical toddler behavior (which is often quite rotten). I'm fine with a one-off at a "somewhat nice" place, but find it questionable when parents bring kids that age to a "very nice", as if their toddler is somehow very differently behaved than 99% of other toddlers. It's a ticking time bomb with a very loud boom.

                      1. re: chowser

                        It was totally out of the blue. His older brother, who was 5 at that time, had never done such a thing. We'd eaten in restaurants extensively with him but it all came to a screaming halt once the destroyer came along.

                        1. re: tcamp

                          If more people were as realistic as you about their kids' behavior, eating out would be a whole different experience.

                          I have zero problem with kids who pull something like this if their parents deal with the situation promptly. I have a lot of sympathy when I see a one parent taking a kid for a walk or just outside to cool down and/or blow off some steam. Even the best-behaved toddler in the world is still a toddler, i.e. generally high-maintenance, easily bored, and inherently unpredictable. On the other hand, I really don't think it's a travesty to have some adults-only spaces in the world. It would be different if there weren't hundreds of restaurants out there that welcome kids, but as it stands this restaurant isn't doing anything wrong. If they can make this business model work, more power to 'em. I love kids but in certain moods I would really welcome the peace and quiet.

                    2. re: LeoLioness

                      Yep, I'm one of those Chowhounds with a perfectly behaved (at least in restaurants) kid. And you know what? I still am not bothered by this policy. There was a very nice place near us that made a point of saying "no high chairs, we'd prefer a child-free environment" and in no way was I offended. I get it. We'd go there when it was babysitter night. That said, our daughter learned to be a good restaurant patron partly by going to good restaurants where good behavior was expected of her. I think I had to remove her from restaurants maybe twice, and both times she was under 1 year old.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        I'm not one of those Chowhounds. :( In fact, we had to pull the plug early on our breakfast out yesterday because our kiddo wouldn't behave. (Chewing food, then spitting it out if you want to know the particulars. Totally new, and obviously unacceptable, behavior.)

                        When he wouldn't stop after being warned a couple of times, my husband took him out. Bless our server's heart, she was at my side instantly asking if we needed anything, to which I replied --credit card in hand-- our check and a couple of boxes please. She then told me she understood--she also has small children.

                        Other times (most times, thankfully), my child is beautifully behaved and a delight. We practice good table manners at home. They practice good table manners at preschool--it's a huge part of their routine, actually. And, he's still a terror sometimes.

                        But we still take him out because how else are you going to teach your child to behave in a restaurant if you don't take him to restaurants? And taking him to McDonald's and Chuck E Cheese (neither of which we've ever taken him to--oh wait, my husband took him to McDonald's once when the power went out and there was literally nothing else open) teaches them restaurants are playgrounds. Sounds like a bad message to me.

                        I do believe, though, that there are many restaurants where children don't belong. Well, at least MY child doesn't belong. I suppose if he had a better track record, I might consider a different class of restaurant, but we're not there yet. For now, we limit ourselves to restaurants we believe truly welcome children and where we believe our fellow patrons expect to dine among families with children. (And if you, oh curmudgeonly one, dine at one of these joints and attempt to give me the stink eye when my child squeals with delight when they bring his mickey mouse pancake, back atcha. Tenfold. Sometimes well-behaved children have brief outbursts of joy. Deal with it.)

                        Funnily enough, a couple of years ago, I made a post on my local board asking for recommendations for restaurants that truly welcomed young children, saying, "I mean places that really welcome children, not places you can make it work with children if you are very prepared and determined," and then I described my criterion, which were some combination of booster seats, high chairs, lidded cups with straws, kids menus, crayons, toys or other quiet entertainment. In that thread I swear I had to fight off the wave of "Oh you can take your child ANYWHERE!" responses, perhaps from parents whose children are always perfectly behaved in restaurants. One poster, in fact, could only think of one place in town where you shouldn't bring your child. One!

                        That having been said, there are several high end restaurants in town where I've never seen a child and would never expect to. I don't know if that's because parents just know better or because the restaurants advise parents against it when they call or show up with a child or some combination thereof.

                        Finally, I don't get down on the floor and clean up after my child. Yes, he drops more stuff on the floor than an adult would (again, if he were throwing things, we'd remove him)--he ain't that good with a fork yet, ya know?, but the restaurant has brooms and tools appropriate to the task at hand and I do not. I tip generously and let the staff clean up. If I were the restaurant staff, I would be mortified to have a patron crawling around on the floor cleaning up.

                        As far as the particular restaurant in question, I find their approach absolutely inhospitable and would never dine there, either with or without my child. Really crass for someone in the hospitality business. Surely they can find a way to handle this with more grace.


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          This is what I mean when I said if parents would be parents, it wouldn't be necessary to have these signs. Children don't, at some ages, belong in every restaurant. In non-high end restaurants, if parents were as responsive as you are, it wouldn't be an issue because they're removed when they get noisy. I would never have enjoyed myself in a nice restaurant when my kids were younger because it takes such vigilance even in a casual place. To be honest, I probably didn't enjoy myself that much when we went to casual places because I was constantly watching my kids. But, as you say, they need to learn.

                          The first time I took my kids to a nice restaurant, the place had a mothers day special where they expected kids. Mine were older at this point, 7 and 10. Having eaten in enough casual places, they knew how to behave (thankfully!). Like you, I have never seen a little child in a high end restaurant. Maybe it's because, if you can afford that type of restaurant, you can afford a sitter.

                          1. re: chowser

                            7 and 10! Oh, why can't they all be Lulus!


                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              There were fine before then! I don't want you to be discouraged. They could be taken to restaurants and would sit through a meal by two. I just never wanted to bring them to a nice place (coat and tie only) when they were younger so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. When you start paying for adult entrees, at $30+, for kids, you make them only for very special occasions.

                              1. re: chowser

                                LulusDad likes to joke (??? - not sure he's kidding) that if he gets her used to the finer things in life she won't be interested in dating the kind of guys he doesn't want her dating. Which just proves a) he doesn't know that nice guys can be penniless and b) that he knows very little about the female mind - especially the teenage one.

                                We had one (1!!) place in town that I thought was kind of just "our" place, really nice, we sit at the bar where the bartender knows us and our preferences and we're treated well. I went away for a weekend and he ended up taking Lulu there. Now she has her own (non-alcoholic, obviously) drink named after her there ... no longer our special place.

                                Honestly, I get that some places should be adults only - doesn't bother me. At the same time I do think there is something about getting a little dressed up and feeling like you are getting a special treat is good for a kid. I remember those kinds of dinners with my parents very fondly.

                          2. re: The Dairy Queen

                            TDQ - you are that rarest of people: you are mindful of others and have enough self insight to adapt to circumstances.

                            But I agree with Chowser many many parents are not like you and thus restaurants feel they need to ban kids. A shame but I choose places with no-kid policies because of past experience of ruined meals.

                      2. i am in boston and spent many years working in fine dining. in some of those spots we did not provide high chairs or booster seats. some families would leave in a huff. i did once have a woman come in for lunch and say she had already been to 4 other places, none of which could accommodate her and we were number 5. i appreciate her frustration, but honestly, so what? not every place needs to be for everybody.

                        i am child-free by choice and a screaming baby that is not quickly removed by a conscientious minder will make my teeth bleed and ruin my meal.

                          1. I will make a point of patronizing that restaurant.

                            1 Reply
                            1. And a restaurant in San Francisco with a similar name has been taking flak from the angry and confused for the Monterey spot's policy.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                Sounds like Reading Comprehension hasn't been taught in schools for a Long Time.

                                  1. re: hill food

                                    It was in my grammar school, but that was a long time ago.

                              2. As a parent, I think if parents took responsibility and removed their child when he/she acts up, no restaurant would have to do that. I was at a casual place yesterday where a child about two was running around and screaming at the top of her lungs and was almost hit a few times by servers w/ food. The parents were no where in sight. Although...in that case, I guess the parents didn't need the stroller/high chair/booster chair.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: chowser

                                  I see that too.... the parents sit happily oblivious to the chaos their children are creating. I once saw two parents continue to chat away as their toddler threw food on the floor. Did they clean it? No they left one of the messiest tables I have ever witnessed in their wake. At least this was a casual family place, but still..... I was offended. I used to clean up after my son and he never even threw food around.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    I disagree somewhat. A certain level of dining (note: I've never been but don't think the one mentioned in the OP is it), I don't even want to have to hear the initial (generally inevitable for kids of certain ages) outburst that is going to necessitate the parent removing the child from the dining room.

                                  2. "We offer No High Chairs or Booster Seats . . .
                                    Duct Tape is available upon request."

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: MGZ

                                      Sign posted on a friend's FB page: "Unsupervised children will be given an espresso and a free puppy." Gotta love it!

                                      1. re: mcsheridan

                                        I've seen that sign in stores. It always makes me laugh.

                                        1. re: tcamp

                                          There is a place in my area the has a similar sign but it was a pony instead of a puppy. My son wants to know if it is true.

                                          We are blessed with a child that can sit and enjoy a nice meal in a high end setting. He is an only child and we are older parents and I like to think his behavior is a reflecting of our parenting but maybe we just got lucky (probably luck!)

                                          That being said, we spent many childless years being horrified by how our friends let their children behave in restaurants. These were people that were raised to know better but were too selfish, entitled, blind, or exhausted to remove themselves from the situation.

                                          I remember one incident on vacation at a higher end place we frequented a couple of times a year. (Family had a beach house)

                                          My friends completely ignored their then 5 yo, who threw himself on the floor right in front of the kitchen door. The waitstaff were literally stepping over him with trays of food. At first I was thinking "not my kid, not my problem", then I was embarrassed to be seen with the parents and eventually I walked the kid outside. Meanwhile, the parents had zero clue what was going on and acted like i was making a big deal out of nothing when I pointed out the issue.

                                          So I can understand why some places are driven to non-kid friendly tactics.

                                          We no longer socialize with the couple. When we had a child it became very apparent our parenting styles didn't mesh.

                                            1. re: cleobeach

                                              While I'm sure you *are* a wonderful parent, I'm gonna go with luck. My first was an only for more than 4 years (older parents, thought he was it). A dream diner. Second one came along with a whole different personality, not quiet ever and it is still true today (he's almost 13). He loves food so he is now great in restaurants, loves to shop and cook.

                                              I tend to cut parents of unruly kids a lot of slack, especially if I can see they are trying their best. Some kids are much easier than others.

                                              1. re: tcamp

                                                "especially if I can see they are trying their best"

                                                that, for many of us, is the crux of the issue. I get you're worn out, and you've brought crayons and carrots and cheerios for diversion, we've come early and the really nice waiter you spoke to is rallying the kitchen to whip up some mac n cheese type thing fast for the one on solids. you're a single mom with 2 kids doing your best and actually not a bad job. it's the ones who don't bother or plan or consider these ideas that make it awkward.

                                      2. It's not a matter of the parents quickly correcting their kids when they have outbursts or promptly taking them outside to simmer down - by then it's already too late, they've already disrupted everyone else around them. I think it's rather obnoxious when parents act like because they have to suffer with their hellish kids, that everyone else is supposed to suffer along with them. They chose to take on that responsibility, not me. I shouldn't be forced to put up with screaming crazy kids when I go out to eat. Not to mention, as expensive as it is to go out to eat, this only exasperates the issue even more. Some places are off limits if you've got screaming crazy kids in tow, get over it. Go to Chuck E Cheese or Denny's or a drive thru.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: Atomic76

                                          I'm going to sound like the child whisperer here but I can see outbursts coming. Kids don't suddenly act up, it's a slow simmer but too many parents are oblivious to the signs. I can watch families and predict tantrums coming where the parents have lost control. So, if parents would be 100% attentive (and it's not easy, btdt), there wouldn't be tantrums, serious behavioral problems aside. Most parents I know who have kids who act up just expect it to happen and that everyone needs to put up with it.

                                          All that said, I have no problems w/ the policy.

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            That's the beauty of duct tape. It works on parents too!

                                            1. re: MGZ

                                              Yeah, like restaurants could pass out a roll on the way in! Your choice of color. Either for ears of childless patrons or mouths of kids...

                                              I used to joke that I'd do the velcro wall thing when I had kids--leave them stuck to the wall at home, cheaper than a baby sitter. Duct tape would work, too!

                                              The best part is after 3:45.


                                              1. re: chowser

                                                My cousin used to say," just rock them to sleep" Then he would explain ,"just get a rock the size of a softball and...."

                                            2. re: chowser

                                              We just got off a 7 hour train trip. A very sweet kid, probably about 2 years old was sitting a seat up from us with his parents. Most of the time he was great, but then he'd start howling for no reason. And the parents just kind of said "oh ... stop." I smiled at him and did the "shhhh" sign and every single time I did that he stopped.

                                              But I'm amused at the duct tape idea ; )

                                            1. We have friends who have a toddler. They eat out frequently. They investigate all the restaurants in the area first, either by asking about it here (they're both chowhounds!) or going on Yelp or Zagat or getting friends' recommendations.

                                              Their toddler acts up on occasion, of course, but by and large she's very well behaved. Our friends bring a "goody bag" for her with toys, paper/pens, books, whatever. They get a booth and put their daughter on the inside so she can't escape :D Most of the time she's perfectly happy scribbling while watching everybody. She's only thrown one tantrum in all the times we've joined them, and her dad quickly nipped it in the bud.

                                              I don't like saying this, but it'd probably be a different scenario if 1) she didn't have the parents she has, 2) she had siblings, and/or 3) economic circumstances made eating out a rarity.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: xo_kizzy_xo

                                                I think one key is "booth." Ay place that has booths is appropriate for toddlers.

                                                1. re: chowser

                                                  yes a booth muffles the sound and corners the little buggers.