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Forget Babies! It’s Disruptive People Who Don’t Belong in High-End Restaurants

tweetIt all started with a simple tweet from the chef of a high-end Chicago restaurant.

The tweet was in response to a couple bringing their 8-month-old baby to Alinea, noted by Today as “chef Grant Achatz’s temple of modernist cuisine.”

The baby cried, as babies do, other diners were disrupted and Chef Achatz took to the Internet to share his dilemma: to ban or not to ban babies at his restaurant?

The way the restaurant works, you purchase tickets between the cost of $210 and $265 for the tasting menu weeks and even months in advance. According to Eater Chicago the couple’s babysitter cancelled at the last minute so they decided to bring the baby, probably terrified by the decision but not wanting to waste hundreds of dollars. Still, a risky parental move. Dinner at the sleek establishment is quite the event, lasting as long as three hours with waiters bringing out 18 courses that are as much art as they are food.

“It all adds up to a place where a baby would not make any sense whatsoever,” Chicago magazine chief dining critic Jeff Ruby tells TODAY.com.  “If I had paid all that money and had been sitting at next table, I’d be pissed—and I have a baby. If you asked 100 people, 99 out of the 100 would say a baby should not be there.”

He makes a great point. Yet I don’t agree with him.

Of the thousands of tweets debating Achatz’s initial tweet, one hits the nail on the head. It comes from Robert Alexander who describes himself as “Baker. Father. Husband. Leader. Traveler. Eater. Drinker. Listener. Reader. Talker. Walker.” Alexander simply says “Why not maintain a restaurant policy governing disruptive *people? Does it exist?”

Exactly.

I’ve been on airplanes, in coffee shops and restaurants where I’ve encountered people far more disruptive than a crying baby. To ban all babies from restaurants is ridiculous and unfair. Many, many parents, including myself, have the ability to whisk away a crying baby within seconds, should the situation require it. So you shouldn’t take away my option to dine at a lovely restaurant based on the bad behavior of other parents.

If parents persist in ignoring a crying baby to the point where other diners are obviously disrupted, by all means, 86 them from the joint pronto, in the very same way you would if any other person were behaving in a way that was inappropriate to the environment. Interestingly, a poll on Today indicates a majority of people disagree with me. Of nearly 15,000 votes 82% say “There is no reason to bring your baby” while just 18% say banning babies from high-end restaurants is “not fair to parents.”

What about you? To ban or not to ban, that is the question …

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