No shirt, no shoes, kids, no service.

A good friend of mine who lives in the Andersonville section of Chicago sent me this article (reprinted from the NY Times) about a restaurant in his neighborhood that recently posted this sign:

Children of all ages have to behave and use their indoor voices when coming to A Taste of Heaven

Well, apparently a lot of parents in the area got pissed off and started a big brouhaha. Which isn't surprising, when the owner of "A Taste of Heaven" had this to say about his (former) clientele:

McCauley, 44, said the protesting parents are "former cheerleaders and beauty queens" who "have a very strong sense of entitlement." In an open letter to the community, he warned of an "epidemic" of anti-social behavior.

"Part of parenting skills is teaching kids they behave differently in a restaurant than they do on the playground," McCauley said. "If you send out positive energy, positive energy returns to you. If you send out energy that says I'm the only one that matters, it's going to be a pretty chaotic world."

Ignoring the "positive energy," hippy nonsense, it seems to me that insulting the people that buy your flapjacks isn't quite sound business sense. Anyway, what we're left with is another article in the NY Times about parents vs. the child-free. I got a taste of this from some of the more hardcore child-free a few months ago, and I'm still puzzled by it.

The fact is, I've got no problem with this guy posting a sign about wanting kids to "behave" in his place. It's his business, and he should be able to say what he wants, just like people will be able to stop spending money in his restaurant if they are offended or bothered. But if you ask me, posting a sign asking people to get their kids to behave is just a gutless way of saying you don't want kids in your restaurant. Young children are unpredictable and don't always behave or use their indoor voices, even under the best circumstances. Expecting them to have the same social skills as adults is unreasonable. Also, not every parent is going to discipline their child in the way that you may want them to. If you've got an issue with a particular patron, can't you just ask them to leave instead of alienating a whole group of people?

Say what you mean, and those of us trying to go out to eat with our kids will gladly go somewhere else - no hard feelings.

War on Brats [The Detroit News (reprinted from the NY Times) via Matt]