Is there such a thing as a kid-friendly restaurant or would couples dining out prefer you left your kids out of their sight?

Before I got married my husband and I lived a near-carefree existence in our posh Brooklyn Heights apartment- and being single- with no cares other than our own self-indulgent needs- Ahh those were the days! – we certainly did our fair share of eating out; Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Indian, Mexican- each night we’d call each other while commuting home from work- and decide which restaurant we’d take in that night.

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It was an early Friday evening about 5:30 and although back in those days- that was an early bird dinner for us, we figured we’d go for it and beat the dinner crowd rush. Surprisingly for some odd reason that night our favorite Sushi spot was filled to the brim with plenty of young childless couples like us, and one couple who had their small son with them. We sat down- ordered our usual sake and sweet plum wine-and gave the waitress our order. All of a sudden from the back of the room- where the rambunctious little tyke was sitting, we heard a squeaky voice wailing–I can’t quite remember what he was crying about- but Robert and I just ignored it and continued our conversation. However, the squeaky voice grew louder and louder and eventually turned into into full-blown wails- and as we turned our heads to watch these poor parents trying to soothe their sweet little son- the other “less tolerant of a child wailing” patrons literally began screaming out at them to:

“Get the hell out of this restaurant!”‘

“Shut your kid Up!”

“Who brings a four year-old to a Sushi Restaurant?”

“Why are you ruining the atmosphere for everyone else?”

All of which were of course, complete with plenty of expletives. Suffice it to say, it truly felt like a surreal experience. I remember feeling so awful for those poor parents– although I hadn’t ever personally experienced how hard it can be to try and get a four year old to behave himself in a restaurant-(and of course, now I do!) And I remember how these two grown adults kind of skulked out of the restaurant, with their heads ducked, literally dragging their son- who of course was kicking and screaming, unwilling to give up his tantrum- while the other patrons actually clapped -(yes they really began to clap!)and watched them high tail it out of there.

Even now, as I write this I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that all those childless couples at that Sushi restaurant were so unforgiving to this poor couple- who like so many of us parents- probably desperately needed a night out- and perhaps could not find a baby sitter and just decided to take their chances and hope their kid would behave. The moral of this memory for me was;

#1 NEVER bring my child to a sushi restaurant-

#2 Find kid-friendly places where no one gives a sh#t if your kid flips out- dining establishments that offer classic kid-fare; lots of chicken nuggets, Mac n’ cheese, pizza-  where all the other patrons aren’t shooting you dagger-looks, imploring you to leave the restaurant, or to stifle your screaming , squirmy kid- who has proceeded to litter the floor about him with a trail of greasy French fries. So yes, I’ve resigned myself to these kid-friendly restaurants, which encourage loud-mouthed kids- feature great diaper changing areas and parents can rest assured when you walk through their doors- if you’re kid decides to have a meltdown, because he refuses to eat–you’ll get a compassionate- been there-done that look from the other parents- and you won’t feel compelled to high tail it outta there!




  1. says

    Ugh, that is horrible. I can’t believe anyone would yell at another patron! And it WAS early – so… it’s a hard call. But I think the parents should have probably left. Sucks, but you can’t just let your kid scream in a restaurant, esp one that is not particularly kid-friendly. We take my kids out for sushi, but they are 7, 10 and 13, and if they misbehave, one of us would take them out.

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