Friday, January 26, 2018

I'm Back + Leave Those Kids At Home

I’m back! Long term health issues have kept me from writing anything more than a few lines on Facebook for quite some time. A kind volunteer (shout out to Whitney Regan) let me dictate a few pieces to her last summer, before she left Oregon to grace the shores of Hawaii. Needless to say, I’ve been effectively mute for the remainder of 2017 and the first few weeks of 2018.

I could have covered anything in my first piece back; cheese, wine, craft beer, an up-and-coming restaurant, recipes; anything.  I was working on a piece about fast food, which was going nowhere, when something caught my eye.  Nick Hines published an op-ed on today imploring parents not to bring their kids to "Boozy Brunches."

Hines writes, "Those are the type of places (alcohol rich brunches) that kids should be banned from, because those are the places where the hour and a half of bottomless drinks is sacred. Downing my third Bloody Mary with a kid in a child seat 10 feet away — or worse, crawling under the table next to me — simply isn’t conducive to having a good time."

As far as I'm concerned, this should apply to ALL bar-centric restaurants (unless they have a big red bird as a mascot) and other adult themed restaurants.  I want to enjoy a steak & dirty martini without listening to a toddler scream because his/her hamburger doesn't look like the one from McDonald's.

In 2011, I applauded Pennsylvania restaurateur, Mike Vuick, of McDain's Restaurant for banning children under the age of six from his establishment.  I hoped his example would start a trend that would blaze a trail across the epicurean skyway.  Alas, twas not to be.

At this point you're probably thinking, "This guy's cranky after the year he's had."  Well, that's not it, nor do I hate kids.  I have three wonderful nephews who regularly receive comics, candy, and Happy Meals from their Uncle James.  I simply think some places are for families and some are for adults to enjoy.

Adults can open a good bottle of wine and prepare a nice meal at home, granted.  Yet, some of us go out to get our drink on and unwind.  Others like to enjoy a nice meal and quiet conversation with friends.  The experience of being at a restaurant is as important as the food.

As a rule of thumb, children PROBABLY don't belong at a restaurant if the name of the place contains the words, "Bar & Grill," "Brew(ery)," "Tap House," or "Wine(ry)."  Likewise, if a place features a soothing ambiance and gourmet fare, children PROBABLY don't belong there either.

On the flip side, one should expect a certain level of child generated distraction at fast food restaurants, buffets, and other family oriented restaurants.  True, good parents should use such excursions to teach their children manners.  Yet, it's bad form to express annoyance at the sounds of babies crying, kids talking in excited tones, and/or the laughter of youngsters play on restaurant provided structures.

It comes down to, "right place, right time."  When the family goes out to eat, the aforementioned family oriented establishments are perfectly appropriate places to enjoy a meal and let the kids have some fun.  Yet, when mom & dad want a Wellington and a nice Merlot, it's best to hire the high school girl, on your block, to watch the kids.

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