Saturday, July 17, 2010


Families in Ottawa can all breathe a collective sigh of relief now, knowing that they will be welcomed with open arms at Taylor's Genuine Food and Wine bar. Thank goodness for that! Why, just last night, the husband and I were lamenting the lack of child-friendly restaurants that serve Sun-Tech tomato salad with crispy pig cheeks, our kids' favourite!

All kidding aside (clearly, I'm kidding), I have been really surprised at the reaction this issue has provoked. If you're not in the know, a reservation was refused for a group of people that included a three-month old baby. Various excuses were offered as to why the reservation was refused, ranging from shielding patrons from the possibility of breastfeeding (shock, horror!), to not having the amenities to accommodate a child (did I mention the child in question is three months old?). The refused party, in return, has filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission (and yes, it's a completely legitimate complaint, breastfeeding rights in Ontario are protected under the HRC, you don't want to start that argument with me!).

As disappointing as the original incident was, even more disappointing was the debate it touched off among foodies, the majority all of whom sided with the restauarant owners. It would seem Ottawa's finer restaurants are regularly terrorized by families -- I had no idea! Although, to be fair, I likely don't patronize the same caliber restaurants as the self-proclaimed foodies, but I digress...

Anyhow, there are a few points raised by the foodies that I would like to address:

Your children aren't the center of the universe! You can't expect everyone to love them as much as you do!
Yeah, I get it, you don't like my kids. It's OK, some days, I don't like 'em either.

Why should my dining experience be ruined by people who are too cheap to hire a babysitter?
It defies logic that a person who can't afford a babysitter would buy their child a meal from a menu that offers $40.00 entrees. That theory needs a little work.

I can't bring my dog to dinner, why should they be allowed to bring their kids?
I'm sorry you can't bring your dog to dinner. Maybe it's time to make some friends. Human friends.

I don't want to sit next to a child, I'm going to have to censor myself!
If you have to censor yourself because you're sitting next to my child, your conversation isn't suitable for public consumption (I don't care to hear what you may or may not be wearing under your pants either!).

When I leave my kids at home and see other kids while I'm out, it makes me weepy, I miss them so much!
Oh come on, you're lying through your teeth! Just admit it, you enjoy your time away from your kids just as much as I do!

Business owners should be allowed to decide who is allowed to patronize their establishment.
Great idea! You're not allowed in my shop.

I had suspected the exposure would be good for the restaurant, after all, there's no such thing as bad publicity (unless you're Mel Gibson), and sure enough, Taylor's certainly seems to have generated a loyal following amongst the Ottawa Foodies bunch. Despite being given the 'green light', I would like to assure the foodies that Taylor's, much like any finer restaurant in Ottawa, likely won't be experiencing a surge in business from the under-18 crowd. Like you, if I'm going to pay for dinner at a restaurant, I want to enjoy myself. If we take the kids to a kid-friendly restaurant (think kids' menus and crayons), they'll be happy. If they're happy, we're happy! The simple reality is we don't want to rub elbows with you anymore than you do with us (no offense).

I would also like to assure the foodies that *if* we should happen to make it into your neck of the woods with the kids in tow (and that's a big *if*!), I will do my best to ensure that they are on their best behaviour. It's not special treatment just for you, believe it or not, whenever we're in public, regardless of where we are, I expect good behaviour from our kids. Now, would you pass the Grey Poupon?


  1. A similar thing happened here in Vancouver. No big fuss though...except of course for the Sun listing a bunch of reasons not to bring kids to those higher class eating establishments so that adults can enjoy their food.

  2. We went to a fancy(ish) restaurant when my daughter was 3 months old for an anniversary dinner. We were all dressed up and she was very well behaved. The small restaurant was not equipped to handle children, but were very supportive of us being there, giving us extra room at a table for the car seat, and even waiting to bring out our food when my husband had to run back to his work (just down the street) to change her diaper (and subsequently her entire outfit...) because they did not have suitable room in the bathrooms to change her. Although it would have been nice to have a change table at the restaurant, we did appreciate our food coming to us as soon as he returned (20 minutes later!), with a smile from the waiter and the patrons around us (who thought she was uber cute). No one batted an eye when I had to nurse her either (under a cover) while I ate (we all eat together, right?). All in all we had a good dinner. I am so shocked by all of this hoopla over bringing their baby to the restaurant. I hope they win their case, and I hope Ottawa realizes that some of us need a night out (even if it includes bringing the kids).

  3. we brought my 3month old to a restaurant and nobody even noticed she was there. this is different than a toddler or a big baby.

    i think restaurants should reserve the right to suggest parents go elsewhere. many parents out there are not considerate of others, and do allow their children to run around a restaurant, scream, and generally spoil the relaxing atmosphere for dining. not to mention the mess.

    fine restaurants are NOT the place for kidlets, people! (or animals....they are similar) now, if all parents had the good sense to remove a child from a place where they were terrorizing patrons, i would feel differently. but too many parents tune out the whining, moaning, and general obnoxious behavior....or worse engage in constant barking orders to stop that the annoyance is compounded.

    i am all about kids and find that people are intolerant of children in many places, and too many people hold dogs in higher regard than humans. but i'm TOTALLY on the side of the restaurant owners. patrons pay a lot for a night out to relax. however, a newborn (up to about 6months) is not a kid. they must be attached to their parent. and generally are not a nuisance to others.

  4. ==========================================
    many parents out there are not considerate of others, and do allow their children to run around a restaurant, scream, and generally spoil the relaxing atmosphere for dining. not to mention the mess.

    Maybe, but have you actually ever seen this happen? We eat out a fair bit with our kids (probably once a week), at family restaurants (The Works, Boston Pizza, and the like), and I can honestly say I have never seen children behaving like this. I have never seen parents letting their children run wild at a restuarant. If it doesn't happen at Boston Pizza, I have a hard time believing it happens at fine restaurants...

  5. If a specific child I'd running rampant, you ask that family to leave. You do not ban all children. And, for the record, comparing my child to a pet is unacceptable.

  6. I think that at a family type restaurant children are engaged with activity, and the parents are relaxed ... and the food comes in a timely fashion. The children are happy.... the parents are happy .... and everyone wins.
    My oldest loved going to "fancy restaurants" when she was little (about 4 or so and still today at 12 ) She was / is quiet and well mannered and just lovely to eat beside.
    The next two I have given birth to I think I would think twice before taking to a fast food drive through !!
    I have been out to a later dinner with my husband and been a witness to a parent not being in touch with their child. They were not "misbehaving" per say .... but spent the majority of their dinner (and mine) trying to get my attention and talking to me !! The parents clearly were not put off by this at all. I guess they had a babysitter at the next table !!
    I am in childcare and would have a hard time saying "Excuse me ... but your child is ruining my dinner. Could you parent them please ?" So I did my best to just enjoy my noisy dinner .... and I felt pretty upset after.
    For me a mother of 3 and a daycare provider I really am looking for a grown up moment when my husband and I leave the house.
    And as I said before ... not only was this a nice place to eat (with a nice bill attached to the meal) but it was like an 8:30 reservation with food arriving after 9 pm.
    No woman who feeds and cares for 10 people every day should have to "table chat" with a loud 3 year old at 9 pm !
    I think we just need to be sensible when selecting restaurant environments for our little ones to eat at. Take in consideration the age and personality of the child and the environment you are considering eating at ..... and be ready to walk away if things go badly !!
    "Excuse me .... we have decided to get this to go ..." lol !!

  7. I found the restaurant's excuses really lame. Other fine dining establishments, like Bekta and the Wellington Gastropub, welcome families with open arms. I've brought both of my kids to the Gastropub plenty of times, and every time I'm in there there is at least one infant.

    Now that G is three we don't take him there - you never know when he'll decide to be... well, three. If we do dine out it's for breakfast at the local greasy spoon or a quick supper at the Foolish Chicken. In a couple of years we'll go back to the occasional "fancy" dinner out, though. Just not at Taylor's.

  8. I agree with others, a distinction needs to be made between a 3 month old and an older child. I wouldn't be likely to bring my 4 year old twins and my one year old to a fancy restaurant because it would be a very stressful experience for all of us. However, a 3 month old baby is going to do nothing but sleep the whole time AND is possibly too young to leave with a babysitter (or at least I never left my breastfeeding babies with babysitters at that age). The restaurant's decision to refuse a baby of this age just shows their ignorance as to what a baby is like. As for the nursing issue - that's a separate thing altogether and no one should EVER be told they can't nurse somewhere. That's the part that makes me most angry about this story.

  9. Under 6 months and over 4, my children have been lovely dining companions. Not that I'm hanging at 5 star restaurants, but I would be comfortable knowing they would be as least as well mannered as other diners.

  10. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    many parents out there are not considerate of others, and do allow their children to run around a restaurant, scream, and generally spoil the relaxing atmosphere for dining. not to mention the mess...too many parents tune out the whining, moaning, and general obnoxious behavior....or worse engage in constant barking orders to stop it

    The only place I've ever seen this type of behaviour from parents or children was at the mall.
    My husband and I had an awful supper out for our anniversary this month, but the children in the fancy-ish restaurant were definitely not the problem. They were, as kids tend to be, sometimes a little louder than the adult conversation, but not obnoxious. Their parents took them for a little stroll when the food was taking a while. I was much more disturbed by the over 50 crowd at the bar blasting Jeopardy on the TV...and the manager who thought it was appropriate to have a loud conversation with staff members, which included plenty of cursing, right next to our table.
    My parents didn't take us on date nights, but we went to lots of family suppers. Not always wanting to eat at places like Perkins for birthdays and anniversaries, my parents did this thing...what was that called...oh yeah! Parenting and discipline. They taught us from a young age how to behave appropriately in public and what proper table manners were.
    I don't like the generalization that every child is messy either. I wasn't, my sister wasn't...and now her daughter gets extremely upset by any little spill she causes. We would spill things accidentally on occasion...but I've seen messier adults much more often than I've seen kids throwing food in restaurants.

  11. I have been torn about this whole argument from the beginning. I have two young children myself and would not even think of taking them to a fancy restaurant because as a previous poster said, it's a stressful night for me.

    I have seen that toddler running rampantly through the restaurant without anyone seeming to care. It did ruin my dining experience because I felt like I should be parenting that child.

    I do agree that there is a huge difference between a 3 month old and a toddler. I didn't leave my infants with a babysitter at that age either. Then again, I didn't go out for fancy dinners at that point because I was too tired!

  12. Thanks for the update, Susie. I already said my piece in response to the previous post. So glad this particular restaurant came around. Being informed they're in blatant human rights violation works every time! Your responses to the foodies comments are hilarious!

  13. I've pretty much said everything I need to say in the Ottawa Foodies thread above. Sure, they handled this poorly, but I do think there should be places that adults can go and expect no kids to be there.

    Curious - what are your feelings on women-only gyms? Seems to me to be the same thing.

    BTW, my own kids were the ones running around restaurants beyond all reason and control. That's when we stopped going out for a few years. I am 100% certain that not all parents are this respectful of others. Ask my wife about the woman who was in your store yesterday, for one example.

  14. So agree. A baby should not be regarded as such a bother.

    I have never had a problem bringing my babies to fancy restaurants. They would sleep or stare for most of the meal.

    At one extremely high end place, they didn't even bat an eye when I brought the baby in. When my son was 6 months and we took him, he fell asleep for the entire meal.

    When we took my 3 month old dd to the same place, she slept for most and when she woke and I took her out to nurse her, the waiter had put my food under the heater to keep it warm while I was gone. He brought it back and even reassembled it into that 'fancy' presentation for me. Amazing service.

    The other issue may be judgement. Like you said, I wouldn't want to bring my kids to those really expensive places, even if the food is amazing. I'd spend my time keeping them happy.

    Parents will afford others respect the same way we expect it.