We’ve all had the situation where you sit down for a nice meal and a child begins to cry. In some situations, it’s alright and expected; while nobody really enjoys hearing a kid cry, at a location that does specifically cater to children, such as a Chuck-E-Cheese or a fast food place with a playground,
At a major, award-winning restaurant, the cry of a child could be a complete mood-killer. Grant Achatz of Alinea brought much attention to the problem with a tweet.
Tbl brings 8mo.Old. It cries. Diners mad. Tell ppl no kids? Subject diners 2crying? Ppl take infants 2 plays? Concerts? Hate saying no,but..
— Grant Achatz (@Gachatz) January 12, 2014
Alinea is the only restaurant in the Chicago area to get three Michelin stars. Huffington Post points out that the restaurant runs on a ticket system, with meals running from $210 and $265 and are paid in advance. They aren’t refundable, but they are transferrable and can be resold.
Still, at that price, anybody will have problems a child crying; given that Alinea doesn’t in any fashion cater to children, this was an unexpected and unpleasant surprise for customers who spent a lot of money for dinner.
Have you had this problem with customers in your restaurant? For many casual dining restaurants, at worst it’ll be an inconvenience to you, your staff, and guests. If you’re in the budget of a middle-class family of four, you’re going to have those one or two children in your restaurant eating your kids menu that just aren’t happy with how they’re sitting, where they are, or even something completely unrelated to your restaurant.
Many restaurants have come up with their own solutions to this problem. Taco Bell has found that children’s meals weren’t worth it, simply because families weren’t eating out as much as they once were. A few restaurants have found that the key to getting families in to eat might be a shift in focus to targeting dads.
These two options deal more with the fact that children aren’t frequently in the restaurant; once you’ve figured out how to appropriately market and get them in the restaurant, do you dare silence them? La Fisheria found itself in the news once it banned children after 7PM, but the restaurant received much praise from appreciative adults who were able to enjoy their night and dinners in peace.
Banning children might not be the worst thing for you restaurant, especially if your restaurant doesn’t particularly cater to them. If you don’t have a children’s menu, or even a menu that children would appreciate, there’s a good chance the children might be unhappy in the first place. If your establishment particularly targets adults, whether it be from having an extensive alcohol list or just simply a place that couples tend to consider for “date night,” you don’t want to alienate your target audience and ruin their night with the chance that children just might cry.
Invariably, some people may be turned off, but the success might just be worth it.