Mich Elle was disappointed to learn that the restaurant she had chosen for dinner didn’t stock high chairs. She, her huband, and their 9 month old went to Earl’s, an upscale casual restaurant that caters to a mostly fashionable 20-something crowd.
The hostess offered her a booster seat, but that wouldn’t work for her 9 month old. When she went to the bathroom she was again dismayed to find there were no change tables.
Mich Elle left, went home, and took to the restaurant’s Facebook page with her thoughts.
“I understand that Earls isn’t a Kinder Cafe but people who enjoy your restaurant also have babies and we should be comfortable bringing them to your restaurants. I urge your management to consider providing these inexpensive conveniences for your customers.”
THE INTERNET’S REACTION
That sparked a heated discussion on the company’s page, it then moved to Reddit, and now the rest of the internet is caught up in a debate over what kind of services restaurants should provide.
One commenter writes on the Facebook post: “When restaurants don’t provide those amenities they generally don’t want you to bring your baby to their restaurant. I would just choose to go to Earl’s when you have a sitter. As a momma of two young boys, I understand this fact. In fact like this. If I’m out with my adult friends at a non family restaurant the LAST thing I want is to be around other peoples kids.”
While another says: “Hey Earls, your holier than thou attitude isn’t winning you any new customers. In fact, it is alienating the very people who supported you for many years before they had children. Now they have families and you no longer want their business? Seriously, how difficult is it to have a one single high chair in the restaurant? Or a change table in the washroom? Mich, you seem to have started a thread that is touching a nerve with a lot of people.”
THE COMPANY’S RESPONSE
The company then chimed in with an official response.
“Our menus are very popular with young people, however our restaurants do not offer a children’s menu. Instead we find parents feel many of our appetizers are suitable.
We do not have a policy that prohibits highchairs. Simply put, requests for highchairs are rare. Where we see the need, some of our restaurants do have highchairs, approximately a quarter of our locations, and just over half our restaurants have booster chairs.”
Mich Elle tells Global BC she is quite surprised by the reaction her Facebook post has received.
“My initial issue and where it’s at now are two totally different things,” she says. “When I put that on Facebook it was a customer service complaint. My point was simply ‘your direct competitor offers these amenities, and because you don’t we’ll simply take our business elsewhere.”
News flash, Mich Elle – that’s exactly what Earl’s wants you to do.
PARENTS NEED TO UNDERSTAND KIDS CHANGE THINGS
My take on this is very simple: kids change things.
It’s a concept many parents struggle to grasp, but it’s really a basic one to understand. Your life changes the moment you have children. Life is now different, people.
You can’t go to the same places you went to with your young kids that you did when you were a carefree single person. You shouldn’t go to late movies with young kids in tow. You shouldn’t go to upscale restaurants with infants. You shouldn’t go to parties at the Playboy mansion with newborns.
Some people don’t like having their style cramped, and that includes those without kids, or those of us smart enough to have found a sitter.
There are plenty of other family friendly restaurants out there. When I was in Reykajvik, The Laundromat Cafe, a rousing restaurant filled with young hipsters, boldly declared their love of families for all to see (right).
Sometimes you just have to be willing to accept there are more appropriate places for you to spend your money, and family resaurant time.
What’s your take? Should restaurants be mandated to stock high chairs and change tables? Is it okay for a business to imply they’re not family friendly?