No shoes, no shirt, no children
There’s this snobby restaurant in Mooresville, North Carolina, that recently implemented a “no children” policy. As the parent of 8- and 5-year-olds, you can imagine my reaction.
Don’t get me wrong, I love children. I used to be one. But they don’t belong in nice restaurants. Or, really, out in society at all.
I’m reminded of this every time my wife and I try to take our kids out to eat.
The hostess asks, “Would you like a booth?” and I always think, “Do you have something in the parking lot? A table by the dumpster would be fine.”
I remember dining out with my wife before we had kids. It was quiet and fun. We’d relax, sip wine and laugh while lingering over the menu. We weren’t asked to cut a hamburger in fourths. I didn’t have to help someone use the potty. If anything, I’d ask other people to help ME use the potty, but that was a long time ago and I’ve since apologized to the Rockslide manager.
My point is we were patrons. A parent taking kids out to eat is not a customer so much as they are a worker taking on three jobs:
A. A referee breaking up fights. (“Scoot over to your side.”)
B. A drill instructor barking out instructions. (“Do NOT eat that French fry off the floor!”)
C. A therapist vainly attempting to soothe a client. (“Just relax. The food will be out here shortly. Why don’t you draw a picture?”)
We went to the Outback Steakhouse by the mall the other night. We hadn’t been there in a while, so Marie and I were excited. Our kids, on the other hand, were unenthusiastic and this bothered me. I would have considered giving them up for adoption, only I know they’d be ungrateful for that too: “I don’t like this fire station. Can you drop us off at a different one?”
When I was their age, I would have killed to go to a place like Outback. An entire recess would have been spent telling my 2nd grade friends, “I’M GOING TO OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE TONIGHT!” and you know what they would have said? They would have stared at me blankly, because Outback wasn’t founded yet.
My point is my kids should be thankful. But they weren’t. Which is why I wanted to switch them out for more appreciative kids — say, two boys from South Sudan. I imagine little Kamal and Dabor gobbling up a Bloomin’ Onion with great appreciation and not saying a word when the waitress brings out lemonade instead of Cherry Coke. After the coconut shrimp, they would hug me and thank me profusely, and I’d bask in their adoration, because in my imagination, I understand Sudanese Arabic.
Kids really don’t belong in restaurants. Youth is wasted on the young, and so is restaurant food. My 5-year-old would get the exact same amount of pleasure from the filet mignon at the Winery as he would with a 39 cent packet of Kroger macaroni and cheese.
Plus the atmosphere in a nice restaurant is too elegant for children. The décor and quiet setting of a fine restaurant invites conversations on life, relationships and other serious, thought-provoking discussions. My last six dinner conversations involved my daughter telling us how she can do a cartwheel.
Then there’s the stress. Taking a 4-year-old to a restaurant is like being in a building with a ticking time bomb, only the clock display is broken so you don’t know how much time is left. You know it’s going to blow up at some point, you just hope you’re walking away in the parking lot when it does.
So I think this kid-free restaurant in North Carolina is a wonderful idea.
Just like I think it’s a great idea we don’t eat out as much. Perhaps 364 consecutive dinners at home with Kroger mac and cheese will induce in my kids a sense of gratitude for eating out, so that the next time we go to a restaurant, they’ll sit there politely, appreciatively, enjoying the view from our quiet booth by the dumpster.