Recently a restaurant called Old Fisherman’s Grotto in the tourist town of Monterey, California made headlines for their children’s policy. It’s on display at the front of their restaurant and reads:
NO HIGH CHAIRS
NO BOOSTER CHAIRS
Children crying or making loud noises are a distraction to other diners, and as such are not allowed in the dining room.”
As a mother, you’d probably expect me to be up in arms about this, but I’m not. In fact, I have no problem with this at all.
A visit to the Old Fisherman’s Grotto website shows that they started this policy in 1997. The website explains that, as a relatively small restaurant, they didn’t want high chairs and strollers clogging up the walkways. As time went on the policy expanded to exclude crying and loud noises from children because they want to be known as a quiet spot on the pier. To be clear, they do claim to “welcome” children. Just not ones that make noise, apparently.
Overall, that seems fair to me. The place is pitching itself as a high class, intimate restaurant with lobster, wine, and ocean views. With that kind of atmosphere, encouraging parents to bring kids might hurt their business because it would change the environment they’re trying to create. Restaurants have a right to create rules — everyone knows “no shirt, no shoes, no service” — and I don’t see how this is any different.
Some people have questioned the legality of this, but it appears that no laws are being broken. The federal Civil Rights Act “prohibits public establishments from discriminating on the basis of race, religion” … and other specified categories, none of which include children or acting like a kid. A lawyer I spoke with said that while it’s against the law for, say, a landlord to discriminate against families with children, she wasn’t sure if children were a protected class in the restaurant business.
As a parent, I don’t understand why you would even want to take a child to a place like this. Who needs that stress? I’d much rather take my kids to establishments that identify as child-friendly. And, on the flip side, it would be nice to visit a quiet, more intimate restaurant when I have a sitter.
In a beach town that is frequented by families (the Monterey Aquarium is legendary), there are plenty of other options for meals. I think a restaurant near Old Fisherman’s Grotto should put a sign out saying “We’re kid friendly!” Considering how many families are out there, they’d probably make more money than Old Fisherman’s Grotto in the end.
What do you think? Should the restaurant change their policy or was it the right move for them?