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No kids allowed

I don’t have a problem with this.

Chef Aquiles Chavez said his decision to ban young children from his restaurant during the evening hours was not easy. And the decision wasn’t shared by his wife.

On Monday, La Fisheria, the seafood restaurant helmed by the Mexican reality TV star and chef, announced via Facebook that it is requiring guests be 9 or older when dining after 7 p.m.

The post was simple:

“After 7 p.m., people over 8 years old only. We are a family-friendly restaurant, and we also respect all of our customers, so we introduce this new policy to the restaurant. Thanks for your understanding.”

The decision to implement the policy was not.

“It was hard,” Chavez said on Tuesday. “Two of my kids are under this age, and my partner has young kids.”

The reality is that many of his customers have complained about unruly children in the dining room. It’s a Catch-22 for restaurateurs. Do you pull customers aside when children become a distraction? Or do you, as La Fisheria has chosen, keep the distractions at bay by barring youngsters altogether?

“One woman recently said, ‘I leave my children with a babysitter so I can have a romantic dinner, yet you have children running around here,’ ” Chavez said. “We had a tough decision.”

Chef Aquiles Chavez says he was getting complaints from patrons, “and you can’t tell customers’ kids to be quiet.”

Chavez said his wife didn’t approve the evening ban on children.

“My wife said, ‘Aquiles, I don’t like this.’‚ÄČ”

“Customers don’t like screaming kids,” Chavez said, “and you can’t tell customers’ kids to be quiet.”

It’s a perfectly reasonable business decision, especially at a higher-end eatery, where customers will have different expectations for their experience than they would at a more family-oriented place. There are tons of good family-friendly places to eat in the area, and it’s not like kids can never eat at La Fisheria, they just have to do so earlier in the day. Which, speaking as the parent of a nine-year-old and a six-year-old, would seem like the thing one would generally prefer to do, but every family’s situation is different and I’m not going to judge. If someone were pushing for a citywide ordinance to require all restaurants to adhere to a similar policy, or if there were no other good options, then I’d be concerned. But this, this is no big deal.

You can see La Fisheria’s Facebook post announcing the policy and which has drawn over 600 comments and over 60 shares so far, here; there’s another 100+ comments on the 29-95 version of the story. I will note that it’s perfectly fine in general to bring kids to nice restaurants. It’s good to give kids experience eating in places where their best manners are expected. They like doing grownup things once in awhile, and in my observation they tend to want to live up to your expectations for them. We took the girls to Artisans last month and they did fine. It helps to establish beforehand that the rules are different than they would be at, say, Berryhill, and it helps if they aren’t already starving when you arrive and don’t get too bored while waiting, but that’s just common sense. I’m actually a little surprised that this was a problem at all at La Fisheria – I honestly can’t recall ever having a meal interrupted or ruined by an unruly child. But clearly it was an issue at La Fisheria, and they took the action they believed they needed to deal with it. I’m curious to know if you have any experiences with obnoxious kids – or really, the parents who are unable or unwilling to handle them – at restaurants. Please share them in the comments if you do. CultureMap has more.

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2 Comments

  1. Billy says:

    Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely adore kids, and I realize that they are our future. When I worked at the front desk at a social services agency, I found their laughter to be therapeutic. Many of them would always come up to the front desk with their parents, smile and say hello to me and even ask me my name after introducing themselves to me. I thought that was so cute. However, I still believe that restaurant owners have the right to preserve the sanity of their cash-paying customers. One time when my mother and I stopped off at a restaurant on the way back from a road trip, there was this one baby girl who kept screaming and driving everyone around her crazy. She wasn’t sobbing and crying for attention, but rather she was just yelling and trying to grab everyone’s attention to make her presence known even to others who just wanted a quiet dinner. Her parents were absolute morons and just sat there smiling at the baby girl as though everything she did was so amazing. I became so angry that I almost got up and stormed over to the parents to tell them off. My mother even felt like telling that little brat to shut up. Adults have the right to peace and quiet when they go out to eat in a reputable restaurant. They shouldn’t be tortured by someone’s noisy infant.
    Moreover, the parents of these noisy infants are almost always unapproachable just like dog owners who leave their animals barking through the night when everyone is trying to sleep and has to get up the next day.

  2. Billy says:

    Correction to last sentence in my above statement>>>>>Moreover, the parents of these noisy infants are almost always unapproachable just like dog owners who leave their animals barking through the night when everyone is trying to sleep and has to get up the next morning to go to work.