Restaurant Takes On Rowdy Kids

When it comes to restaurants, should children be seen and not heard?

ByABC News
March 21, 2007, 6:03 PM

March 22, 2007 — -- Have you ever found yourself counting the seconds until your check arrives at a restaurant? Not because the food, service or ambience were lacking, but because someone's child was running laps around the place, hiding under the tables, and practicing his dinosaur roar at ear-splitting volume.

Or maybe you've been on the other side, out to a family meal with the kids, proud of their behavior -- which in any other situation might be called exemplary -- only to be berated by a fellow diner who believes that children "should be seen and not heard"?

Either way, the moment probably doesn't rank among your top ten dining experiences. Whether they're well-behaved kids bored of waiting for their grilled cheese to arrive or poor-mannered brats hell-bent on ruining a meal for everyone within screaming distance, the friction created by kids in restaurants is something many of us have experienced.

In one Chicago community these tensions reached a boiling point when Dan McCauley, owner of a local cafe, A Taste of Heaven, decided he had had enough of children using his establishment as a playground.

One afternoon, McCauley said, he caught a pair of kids scaling the walls of his restaurant while their parents sat nearby. As the group was leaving, McCauley confronted Julie, one of the supervising mothers, and told her that she and her children were no longer welcome in the cafe.

"I was so shocked," said Julie, who out of concern for the children's anonymity asked that her last name not be used. "It made me feel like I was in the second grade, having my knuckles whacked or something."

The following morning McCauley posted a sign on the front door, thinking it would be a simple solution. It read: "Children of all ages have to behave and use their indoor voices when coming to A Taste of Heaven"

To his astonishment, the sign quickly provoked a strong response within the community. "We had like 50 or 60 phone calls," McCauley said. "People stating that they were really offended, and they would never step foot in here again, which really surprised me." A local newspaper even wrote that a group of concerned parents was going to boycott the cafe.