Can kids be considerate diners?

Are your children restaurant friendly?

by: JD Haasbroek | 25 Oct 2012
Child in a restaurant

Cape Town has indeed expanded its choice of so-called “family restaurants” in the past few years with restaurateurs realising the profits in providing a destination where parents can enjoy good food with the little ones in tow.

Yet, unless it is a restaurant with a bar environment, it perturbs me when restaurants turn their noses up at kids coming through the door with their parents.

I remember serving a French couple and their twins - no older than 8 – a few years ago in London. The twins chose the Pavé Steak, and when asked for a temperature, the unequivocal answer from both was ‘bleu’. They each enjoyed a small sip of the red their parents were drinking with their steak and their behaviour was impeccable. A result of parents intent to instil in their children the etiquettes of dining out from an early age. It has stuck in my mind.

A little consideration goes a long way

On another occassion I served two ladies who had their toddlers with them. And, as kids are just kids, by the time I approached with the bill I counted at least three pieces of broccoli under the table. By the time they had left, so had the broccoli, as the ladies had done a quick preliminary clean under and around the table.

It made my day. But not because it saved me the trouble of having to clean the table, that would be done anyway, it was just the consideration shown by these adults acknowledging that their toddlers had made a mess. They realised it was not the norm and made a gesture as such.  I have seen other mothers not clean up, but leave an extra tip for whoever had to clean the table.

And here is my point. I love restaurants and the whole dining experience, and I don’t think anyone should be excluded, but from the inside it is glaringly obvious when a parent is considerate of both the establishment and fellow diners. There is no place for disturbing someone else’s experience, but at the same time seeing youngsters of any age being schooled in the wondrous world of dining out is pleasing. It bodes well for the future of restaurant culture.

So please bring the whole family along. But just remember you are not living in a bubble. There are other diners to consider and restaurateurs regard their eateries as precious as children. And by teaching your kids the intricacies of food and dining out from a young age, you are teaching them a great skill for the future.

What is your parenting style when dining out with your kids?

Follow @JDHaasbroek and @Food24 on twitter.


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