It seems that the public just cannot decide how it feels about children in restaurants. Should they be seen and not heard? An Arby’s in Elk River, Minnesota apparently thinks so.
In a daring if not incredibly insensitive move, Arby’s restaurant posted a public notice that read, “Only well behaved Children who can keep their food on their trays and their bottoms on their seats are welcome. If you can’t do this you will be asked to leave.” Probably without meaning to, Arby’s has reignited public debate about kids being allowed in public spaces.
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It all started when Christine Hemsworth, of Princeton, Minnesota, took three of her kids out to eat at the Elk River Arby’s 20 minutes away, where she had a family dinner coupon. When she arrived, she was surprised to see the sign but decided that she would risk it anyway. While she was there with her children, she says that the manager cursed in front of her family. Later that night, Hemsworth posted an image of the Arby’s sign on her Facebook account where it was shared more than 300 times overnight. It also became a lightning rod of nasty debate and Hemsworth deleted the post but not before sending it off to her local TV news station where KARE 11 is picking up the debate where Hemsworth’s post left off.
The comments on the post basically fall into two camps; kids shouldn’t be allowed to eat in public because they ruin everyone else’s “peace and quiet”. Or, kids should be allowed anywhere their parents are and why are we all acting like kids have to be perfect?
Here is what’s wrong with this. Restaurants like Arby’s are not, and I cannot stress this enough, fine dining. It’s a fast-food chain where, just like other fast-food chains, you’ll find drunk people, loud people, crowds, and yes, kids. Do you know what’s so great about that? Fast-food chains are a wonderful training ground for how kids should eventually behave in public. If kids can’t practice staying in their seats, not throwing food across a table, and being generally well-mannered then how does anyone expect them to learn?
If people want their blessed “peace and quiet” while eating then they can stay home or they can go to a higher scale restaurant where parents of young kids are not likely going to show up. I don’t know any parent who is willing to drop adult dinner prices on a small kid who will likely only want the tomato sauce and two cold French fries.
When adults get off their high-horses about how children ought to behave and start being more supportive of families taking their kids out in an attempt to socialise them then we’ll all be better off.