The Restaurant Booth Is Their Ashtray

by admin on January 3, 2014

There is a small family pizza place in the city I live. I have been casual friends of the owners for many years. They do a nice business but with all the chains in town, I know it can be difficult for made from scratch pizza places. They’ve worked hard to build a loyal clientele and have a good reputation. Part of this is providing very good customer service. Unfortunately, I’ve seen first hand what they have had to put up with from one family. I happened in one day accompanied by my two kids (about 7 and 9 at the time) and my friend “Dawn” and her son. When you walk into the restaurant there is a hostess podium about 8 steps in. Along one side there is a divider with a small section of tables and a long booth. You can’t really see the booth area until you are at the podium. We gave our name and waited for a table to open up.

That’s when we noticed The Family at the booth. The Family was made up of a 30 something couple and twin boys probably around 3 or 4. They were attractive and middle class in appearance and, as I would come to find out, the husband was a local attorney. My friend Dawn had actually grown up in the same small town as the husband so she knew him slightly. I point this out only to make it clear that we knew that at least the husband wasn’t raised by wolves. You would have guessed differently if you had seen the wrack and ruin they had left in their wake. The floor under their table was covered with food, much of which was squished into the carpet. Ketchup and sauce smeared everywhere. Plastic kids drinking cups were on the ground, lids half on. Napkins, straws, and more food littered the table. The worst crazy fast food kids birthday party I have ever attended couldn’t hold a candle to the mess made by these two terrors and their clueless “parents.” I have never seen anything like it. While The Family was packing up to leave and I was picking up my jaw from the floor the staff stepped in. It took 8-10 minutes for 3-4 staff people to clean up this small booth area. They went over the carpet with a carpet sweeper at least 3 times. Two servers cleared the table and repeatedly wiped everything down; numerous trips to the trash. Meanwhile, other patrons waited to be seated. Diners at nearby tables also had the good fortune to witness the extensive clean-up effort after getting to see the show! And it had to be a good one considering the gross amount of half eaten food strewn everywhere. The twins must have been absolutely wild considering how many shoe printed french fries adorned the carpet.

So here’s the part where you will be disappointed in me. I didn’t do anything. And I should have, but to this day I don’t think I could have. I had to satisfy myself with giving them absolutely scathing looks and I did manage to make a few not quite under my breath comments which I know they heard and completely disregarded as they sailed out without a look back. The reason I said nothing is that Dawn is an extremely non-confrontational person and since she knew the husband she was absolutely writhing with fear that I would say something. When I made a little too loud comment, I could tell she was embarrassed. With respect to her feelings, I kept my mouth (sort of) shut but I was furious. I couldn’t believe that these people had been so disrespectful to so many people and had gotten away with it. Not only did they make new diners wait an unnecessary amount of time for a table, they disrupted (and disgusted) the diners around them. But most importantly they created a RIDICULOUS amount of extra work for the restaurant staff. These people just didn’t care how their behavior affected other people–in particular those that had to serve them.

After being seated, I laughingly asked my server if they at least tipped well. She was very diplomatic in her answer but she looked pained. The worst part–they came in and did this regularly. In speaking with my friend, the owner (who was also diplomatic,) I found out that they were regulars. The staff actually tried to place them where they would cause the least disruption but what could they do? Refusing them service could have adversely affected their business as the couple had a presence in town and definitely a sense of entitlement. I think if it had gotten to the point where they were really disrupting other customers they would be asked to leave but it was borderline. It was the staff who took the brunt of it and, as this was unusual for their clientele, they were mopping up and moving on. Years later the owner told me that she was talking to another friend in a general way about this family and mentioned the twins. The friend asked if it was “so and so” family. It was. The friend knew exactly who they were. Turns out the boys are still wreaking havoc throughout town but now at an age where they should know better. Go figure. At least their father’s a lawyer. They’ll probably need one. 1231-13

This is a classic example of the phrase, “The world is their ashtray.”    I do disagree that the business owner had no recourse to stifle this behavior or call out the parents for not controlling their darlings.   Maybe it’s just me but I’d rather have one angry set of banned parents than lose clients disgusted with the out of control behavior of this family.

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

The TARDIS January 3, 2014 at 3:25 am

It always appalls me when people treat other places as less important than home. “Oh, don’t worry, someone else will clean up our mess.”

Whatever happened to leaving a place not your own in the same or better condition than it was when you arrived?

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NostalgicGal January 3, 2014 at 3:44 am

If it is a small enough entwined community it can be difficult to ban someone without it coming to bite you somehow.

I used to work night shift in a 24 hour restaurant in a college town just off where 2 interstates crossed. We had a bar across the parking lot. We had our share of the entitled, the terrors, and booths you had to take a scoop shovel to; of all walks of life. This isn’t a recent phenomenon. I don’t think the OP growing a spine and speaking up would have helped the matter any, unfortunately.

What can you do about these borons? Hope they get the karmic 2×4 and realize it. The ‘we reserve the right to refuse service’ on a management’s part can only go so far as well.

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Ruby January 3, 2014 at 6:07 am

LW, I’ve seen similar families break table fixtures and things like that. Their kids were terrors.

Never did I feel the need to behave as you did. You scared your friend, made rude comments “under your breath” yet loud enough for them to hear, and felt you should had done more. Like what- a fight?

That was not your place of business. The restaurant owners could take care of themselves.

Were you mad because you wanted the booth for your own kids and had to wait?

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crebj January 3, 2014 at 6:52 am

OP, what action do you think you should have taken?

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Saucygirl January 3, 2014 at 7:30 am

I worked as a server in college, and sadly this type of behavior is pretty commen, regardless of the patrons social level. Now that I’m a parent I make a point to clean up any mess my daughter makes, and it never fails to sadden me the response this gets. Once when out with another (childless) couple they started whispering to each other as my husband and I bent under the table to pick up some food that had fallen. When we asked what they were whispering about, they told us that they were impressed and surprised as they had NEVER seen any friends clean up after their kids and it had always bothered them. Another time I was out with a friend (who never worked in a restaurant) and her three kids and when I started to clean up at end she told me to stop, that that’s what servers were paid to do! I explained that unless she was leaving a 100% tip or better, they most certainly were not paid to clean up after her three kids. It actually became a rather heated conversation that involved talking to servers so she could hear first hand how she was being perceived by them. She had absolutely no clue. Luckily, now she does.

I have always said that if everyone was required to work in the restaurant industry we would have a more patient, understanding and considerate society.

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Ripple January 3, 2014 at 8:14 am

If I was the owner, I think I would have gotten a large sheet of plastic runner material (the kind stores put out when there is a heavy snow storm to protect their carpet). Put this under the table every time the family came in. That would protect the carpet and make it clear that it is this family’s fault this has to be done. Or remove the carpet from under a couple of tables and make this family wait until one of these tables was free. Send the busers over more often to clean up anything under and on the table within easy reach without “disturbing” the family. And figure out a way to increase their bill to cover a decent tip and cleaning costs (a note in the menu and at the entrance that groups of four or more would have a X% gratuity added to the bill automatically, while “forgetting” to do that for everyone else). Done a few times and maybe this would embarrass or anger them enough that they wouldn’t come back, while not giving them anything to complain about without making it clear it’s their own fault.

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The Elf January 3, 2014 at 8:28 am

I have seen this family (or their local clones) before too. OP, I don’ t think there is anything you could really do. Confronting them would only be throwing gas on a fire, because people who do this feel entitled to do it. Cleaning up yourself would actually make it harder for the servers to clean up; they’ve done it before, they know the drill. About the only thing you can do is exactly what you did – offer some sympathy to the server stuck with them. This is really on the restaurant to make that business decision about whether to ban the family or not. This is why some restaurants have made no-kid policies, or posted signs about kids’ behavior. Families like this make it that much harder for all other families. When I see a particularly bad example and I have the same server, I sometimes throw a little extra on the tip because I just feel bad for them.

Saucygirl, I totally agree. I didn’t do food service, I did retail. But the end result is much the same. Working with the public, in a position with little power where you are forced to be nice, really gives you a great perspective on being a good customer. If only everyone could have that experience, if just for a little while, maybe we’d have fewer of THOSE customers.

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PWH January 3, 2014 at 8:52 am

Hi OP, as others have said here, it isn’t up to you to do anything. I know you feel bad at the poor treatment of the staff at the pizzeria, but unfortunately it would be up to the owner to do or say something. If there people were regulars who came in on a set day every week, I would be tempted to put plastic sheeting under the table before they sat down to make clean up easier : )
Growing up with two much younger, rowdy brothers, my Mother always made a point of cleaning up after them before we left a restaurant. Leaving a restaurant in a condition that you wouldn’t leave your eating area at home is unacceptable. This couple is clearly clueless and very disrespectful.

I agree with Saucygirl. Everyone should be required to work in the service industry period, at one point in their life. This would give them the perspective and make them think twice about doing this type of thing (would you want to clean it up if it was you?).

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Huh January 3, 2014 at 9:02 am

My kids and I have become friends with a waitress at a small restaurant we have frequented since they both were little babies. It only took once for me to explain, “Don’t make a mess, and if you accidentally do, you need to clean it up yourself. Otherwise Friend Waitress has to, and she has more than enough to do.” They are always good about picking up dropped things or asking for extra napkins and cleaning up after themselves if they’ve spilled something. (Youngest is extra klutzy right now.)

And there is no way I would have ever put up with them grinding food into the floor and smearing it everywhere as the OP described. Just reading that made me want to gag.

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Cat January 3, 2014 at 9:42 am

I agree with Ripple. Cover the carpet (I wouldn’t have carpet in a pizza place anyway), put a cheap plastic tablecloth on the table, and keep clearing uneaten food and drink cups so they don’t have time to use them to worsen the mess.
Some people seem to think that food servers are their personal servants and they can treat them any way they please. I would not do it, but I would be tempted to send the piggies an unsigned note, commenting that I had been a patron at that restaurant when they were there and pointing out that their behavior created an unholy mess, made others wait for a table, and reflected poorly upon their reputation in the town as an upscale family.

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Reno January 3, 2014 at 9:42 am

I agree with others that there wasn’t anything a patron could say. Do you believe if you’d walked over and said to the parents “Your kids are making a terrible mess that the restaurant has to clean up and others have to witness” that the parents would say “Oh goodness. You are right. I hadn’t noticed. Kid’s less clean up our mess. Thank you for pointing it out.”

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Wild Irish Rose January 3, 2014 at 9:48 am

This is precisely why tipping exists. No, it’s not the server’s “job,” strictly speaking, to clean up after a couple of monstrous children. However, it happens, and yes, it IS the server’s job (or the busboy’s) to clean up a table and prepare it for future patrons. Anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant knows this. Most people are good enough to clean up after their own kids, but not everyone does. Either way, when you tip your server, that’s part of the service you’re paying for–someone to do the cleaning so you don’t have to.

That said, this family was boorish to the point of I wouldn’t want them back if I were the owner. And OP, your passive-aggressive comments under your breath do nothing to endear you to restaurant patrons or owners. You think other customers aren’t hearing that and wondering what you’re saying about them? Shame on you.

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Kate January 3, 2014 at 9:50 am

I have being a server for many many years, and what always amazes me about families like that, is the message that they are sending to their children. What they are saying is you should behave yourself at home, but once you go out in the world you can do whatever the heck you want, and someone will clean up after you. Now, I’m sure if they really thought about it they would not want to give their children that message, but they never seem to get that that is what they’re saying.

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Kate January 3, 2014 at 9:59 am

I am surprised though that this family didn’t lose the place other customers. I happen to be quite squeamish and always have been, I avoid making a mess because I know how much I struggle to tidy up – I can’t touch wet paper towels and things like that, I just can’t make myself do it because I literally start to gag.
Had I been sat near people doing this, I’d have left before my food arrived because I couldn’t have eaten near that sort of thing, children smushing condiments and food into the carpet – just, I couldn’t physically.
Other people might not have this issue but still, it’s going to make your meal unpleasant – why would you keep coming back and risk being witness to it again?

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Mabel January 3, 2014 at 10:20 am

It’s perfectly acceptable for a business to “fire” customers. If one customer is adversely affecting the entire clientele, they can and should have a word with them about their behavior and that of their children. If they feel entitled and angrily sweep out, who cares? If the rest of the customers are bothered by this, they’re probably waiting and hoping for the owners to ban these cretins from the restaurant. I doubt it will result in a loss of business; it might even increase it! I’d say it’s a very good example of “grow a spine,” which the owners need to do.

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Lisa January 3, 2014 at 11:00 am

This same phenomenon applies to hotel rooms as well, but most of the time the culprits are the ADULTS. I agree with the above that prior to becoming an adult, everyone should work in the service industry in some form or another.

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Carol January 3, 2014 at 11:04 am

Unfortunately, I don’t think that working in a service industry makes people more understanding and considerate of those who do. I know someone, for example, who used to work in a department store and now has no problem leaving the fitting room floor heaped with clothes she’s tried on and rejected because, “I cleaned up fitting rooms for so many years — now it’s my turn to have someone clean up after me.”

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Yarnspinner January 3, 2014 at 11:06 am

I sat behind their relatives at a performance of Beauty and the Beast…on Broadway, so you know it wasn’t a cheap experience. Dad was plastered, Mom might have been and both kids whined because they “couldn’t see” despite the fact that they had stolen the seats of other audience members who had come in after them and refused to relinquish the seats even after ushers got involved.

The ushers gave up and because my friends and I had expressed our annoyance (both children were encouraged to stand on their chairs and we asked that they at least sit down) the children were encouraged to stand up even taller and Dad put his big, beefy arms around them so that no one behind his family could see the play.

We kind of fell into etiquette hell ourselves with our comments to the family, but they had become so rude not just to us but everyone around them that it was almost inevitable.

His response to us “You’re adults. This is a kid’s play. You didn’t need to pay money for a kid’s play. You shouldn’t pick on kids.”

Because it’s for the chiiiiilllllldrrrruuuuunnnnn.

I got to watch the back of this man’s head while another child seated behind me sobbed because she couldn’t see through him or his kids and she kicked the back of my chair repeatedly. I felt so bad for her I slunk down as low as I could, but she still couldn’t see through Mr. Head. Essentially my friends and I paid $120 bucks each to be tortured for two hours while we watched someone’s kid’s backside.

Yes, we should have gotten management, but they were already there in the form of the ushers who were already turning a deaf ear to everyone else’s complaints.

The smallest and feistiest in our party of five said to the nice man “Gee, Sir, I hope you have as good a time in New York as we have had watching Beauty and the Beast.”

Haven’t been able to sit through a live performance of B&B since without getting antsy.

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Elizabeth January 3, 2014 at 11:14 am

OP, sadly you were mistaken; he was raised by wolves.

Dealing with these types can be tricky. I was once in a restaurant where a child was running about (hot trays of food going by, coffee, sizzling fajita skillets – you name it and this kid was in the way for 20+ minutes). The servers were not going to risk angering the parents. While walking back from the bathroom and dodging the child, I quietly said ‘he’s going to get hurt, we are all trying to work around him and you’re not helping.’ Mom was irate, called over the manager and wanted me removed from the restaurant because ‘she doesn’t like my kid.’

They were finished with their meals and the manager hurried their check to them, bean dipping on the request that I be ejected. All patrons listened to her complain on her way out of the restaurant. Once they were gone, the clapping started and I felt validated.

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Kristin January 3, 2014 at 11:55 am

If you teach children proper table manners at home, then they are more likely to behave themselves properly in a restaurant. This sort of thing really chaps my hide! My husband and I tried a new place once and there was a large family there — obviously friends of the owner. While we ate, these kids (all about 8 years old or so) ran around, yelled and, yes, crawled on the table! Their whole area was a huge mess. The parents paid absolutely no attention to what the kids were doing. We mentioned it to the manager on the way out, saying we would never come back. We never did.

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Ashley January 3, 2014 at 11:55 am

I worked at a restaurant for a while, it’s a place that’s a step above fast food but a step below an actual sit down restaurant. Idk if it’s relevant but it’s a place where while the staff will make your food and bring it out to you, you’re on your own with getting your stuff to the trash. My own experiences have told me that situations like the one OP is describing are all too common. And, it’s not just kids doing it either, I’ve seen full grown adults act like they are completely unaware that garbage cans exist. The worst I saw was two mothers who had kids who were about 3, certainly no older than 4. It was like watching a train wreck. Fries everywhere. Soda on the floor I had personally mopped not even a half hour before they came in. Ketchup smeared on the walls and on the art work that hangs by each booth. I felt like confronting them but I honestly couldn’t even find words. I’m at least happy that the most no nonsense manager I have ever met in my life was working that day because after another customer almost got hit by french fries, I went and got him. “Dan, come look what is happening in the lobby” I said. He came to look, and you should have seen the look on his face. He went over and said “This isn’t McDonalds, we don’t have a play place, please get your kids to stop running and climbing on all the other tables. Plus, your kids spilled soda on a clean floor. Please clean it up” and he handed them several bar towels. I realize he may not have been as polite as he could have been in the situation, but these women…even if he had managed to be the politest person on earth, they STILL would have went off on him. So of course they start yelling, point at me, and say “she works here, that’s HER job”. To which the manager responds “You’re mistaken, she’s not a baby sitter or your kids parent”. I really honestly needed to get something from the kitchen at that point but they left and all their trash and spilled soda stayed where they had left it, and at least Dan helped me clean it up.

As for OP’s story, it wasn’t OP’s place to confront them in that situation unless she had actually gotten hit by flying food or something. The owner of the restaurant is WELL within his rights to approach them and say “look, this is out of hand”. I don’t care what his reputation in town is, no one should treat other people and their things the way this family did

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E January 3, 2014 at 12:47 pm

I know everyone is saying that it isn’t the OP’s place to have said anything, but between her and the owner/manager, she has less at stake in saying something. If an employee would have said something, there would have been a lot of complaining, the family could badmouth the restaurant, post negative reviews, etc. However, if a customer is driven to say something, there’s nothing really the family can do in retaliation, and it’s possible that some of the other customers might have spoken up and gotten a really good public shaming going. A stranger could easily say with sugary sweetness, “Oh excuse me, but maybe you didn’t realize the mess that the kids have made. Why not give these hard-working people a break and try to clean up some of it?”

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Chicalola January 3, 2014 at 12:49 pm

I would video tape them with my phone and post it online. maybe they would be too humiliated to return. How can people be like this? It’s hard for me to imagine.

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Lo January 3, 2014 at 12:52 pm

I agree with Ruby 100%

I hate seeing parents let their brats run wild in public but what on earth would have you done to make this situation better? Why would you confront this couple? The restaurant has plenty of incentive to handle these types of customers themselves, people won’t go to places where they deal with rude fellow diners.

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Library Diva January 3, 2014 at 1:11 pm

It was not the OP’s place to make comments to this family. By the point she encountered them, the damage had already been done. What good would it have done? This family clearly doesn’t care what others think. I’m imagining they have a strong sense of entitlement because they feel that the husband’s position as a lawyer has bought them a place as a key member of the community. OP and her friend are just among the little people, after all, and naturally they’ll be jealous of our high status and our Indigo Children! On the contrary, speaking up would have embarrassed your friend, ruined your meal, and likely added an angry confrontation as an encore to The Mess and Cleanup Show already underway for the enjoyment of all pizza parlor patrons.

Yes, this family’s behavior was disgusting and infuriating, but unfortunately, only management could take action, and they’ve clearly chosen not to do so.

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Justin January 3, 2014 at 1:31 pm

I’m not sure I agree with the owner’s attitude of not wanting to lose this regular and anyone that he convinces not to come back. How many good, well behaved customers have been lost because they did not want to go back to a place where management doesn’t have enough polite spine to stand up to guests who are disrupting everyone’s meals.

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Dominic January 3, 2014 at 1:58 pm

No amount of tip makes up for purposely making a mess and leaving it for the staff to clean up. “Anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant knows this.”

As for the not-so-under-one’s-breath comments, they weren’t doing any good and shouldn’t have been made. If OP or anyone else was upset by the goings-on at the other table, they may complain to the management, leave the establishment, or finish their meals and just not come back, since apparently the owners were not willing or able to do anything about this rude family. It’s a shame it would have to come that, though.

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just4kicks January 3, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Like many of the posters, I was a waitress to offset college expenses and loans. I could write a book about all the brats that came into my restaurant and the parents who did absolutely nothing but beam proudly at their “angels”. The management refused to do anything because the customer is always right….not.
There was one family who found a way to get their food free every time until we ALL refused to wait on them and then the manager stepped in and ultimately, they were banned.
The scam? We carried as many tables food on one huge tray as we could for more timely service. This mom and/or dad would purposely reach for the wrong plates and stick their fingers in the food. Why, you ask? So they could say we served them the wrong food. Manager would get called over and apologize profusely and comp their meals. Meanwhile, they would also get the food they stuck their grubby hands in because of course the table it was REALLY meant for wouldn’t want it. They got away with it several times on several visits because trying to balance a huge tray and trying to keep their mitts out of wrong plates would result in spilling the whole tray. I know this because I tried it once….just once. They didn’t tip ever, and the now angry people who had to wait for their entire order to be remade usually wouldn’t either. After all the wait staff ganged up on management to PLEASE do something, they would only send out piggie families food on the tray. After two visits where they realized the jig was up, they complained about something else, prompting the manager to announce we knew what they were up to and please pay, leave and never come back.

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Erin January 3, 2014 at 2:27 pm

The OP really didn’t have any business saying anything, especially by her own account she was sniffing and huffing and snarking, and generally making her friend uncomfortable. The parents, meanwhile, wow. Just no. I’ve been known to crawl on the floor picking up bits of random kid detritus so the server doesn’t have to, because that’s what you do when you have kids and take them to a restaurant. If they aren’t big enough to clean up, you clean up for them, and you teach them manners as they become able to handle them.

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Lilac January 3, 2014 at 2:39 pm

OP here. I do agree that there was nothing I could have done. It was the frustration that there was nothing I could have done that made me upset. I’m still frustrated that in many situations there is not a way to check outrageous behavior without putting yourself in ehell!
BUT Ruby and Wild Irish Rose–this website–and etiquette itself–wouldn’t exist if certain behaviors weren’t condemned as rude and inconsiderate. To me, this family made a spectacle of themselves in public. They opened up the door to critical commentary. Not to confrontation or a fight or rudeness. Just commentary. And I couldn’t have cared less about waiting. It wasn’t even that long. It was the fact that the couple didn’t care that they kept people waiting that was the kicker. It was the absolutely craptacular way they treated the staff that upset me. Nice, always pleasant, college kids–they didn’t deserve that level of condescension and rudeness.
Also—-my comments weren’t passive aggressive or rude. They weren’t even particularly judgmental–more observational. The only comments the couple could have heard were one or two in sympathy with the servers who were cleaning up. This was as the couple was getting ready to leave and before my friend told me she knew them. Initially, I thought the mess had been made by a big group that was gone (its a long half booth/half chair area) until the family moved beyond the partition. It was really a spectacular mess. At that point we were just figuring out what was even going on because of the parade of servers coming by. I can’t say I am too sorry they heard but it wasn’t on purpose. After that our conversation could not be overheard. The way the restaurant is set up, no one else was even near us so other customers and staff did not hear me. My observations were to my friend not everyone in the restaurant. I did not yell, “Look at the mess those filthy pigs made!” Although I was thinking it lol.
Just a clarification about my friend. I did not know she knew the people until after I had made a comment about the situation. She could tell I was upset and kind of shocked and I think it made her think I would say something. Which I would NOT have as I knew it wasn’t my battle. As soon as I saw her concern, I switched gears. I would never intentionally upset her EVER. She’s pretty quiet and timid. It was more that her seeing I was upset and her knowledge that I am a more forthright person (read–not a doormat) that concerned her than anything that I actually did. But I AM very polite. I promise I did NOT behave badly or really upset her. I hope that makes sense lol. If this helps–I submitted a story a few months back about people who were taping off rows of seats (to save them) at my daughter’s dance recital. In that story I recounted that I took the tape of the seats so that people who were already present could sit down. That’s my type of “confrontation.” I would never have gotten into an embarrassing screaming match with people. NOT okay and totally not me :)

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JamieC0403 January 3, 2014 at 3:58 pm

I have a three year old and I confess that he’s not the best behaved child in restaurants, but he does at least stay within our booth and isn’t generally noisy. (He tends to climb back and forth under the table between sides of the booth if we’re in a booth.) I clean up after him, which has gotten some surprised comments from waitstaff. And in instance when it is really bad (for instance when he threw up at PF Changs after eating too much rice and then chugging his milk), we clean up the best we can and leave a large tip to hopefully help compensate (50% in the case of that visit to PF Changs). I keep still keep a thing of diaper wipes in my purse just in case though he is getting let messy thankfully.

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Kip January 3, 2014 at 4:52 pm

People like this drive me crazy. I was a server while in college. The restaurant I worked at was long and narrow. There was a big table in the back that sat about tweleve people give or take. One Friday night I had the unfortunate experience of waiting on six adults and their offspring who were sat at that table. The kids, there were maybe four or five of them kept running up and down the length of the restuarant laughing and squealing with glee. I was doing my best to avoid them but they were completely out of control. The owner of the restaurant was there that night and went over to the table and asked the parents in a polite but no nonsense tone to please keep their children at their respective table. Parents half nodded and then went back to their conversation and cocktails. Well wouldn’t you know it that about five minutes later when I was hustling three plates of food (all open face burgers hot off the grill with molten cheese and BBQ sauce exposed) one of the little monsters ran right into me and knocked the plates all over my arms, legs and neck. I was a mess not to mention in pain. I was furious. The owner, after checking to make sure that I was okay marched back to the parents and asked them to leave. They had seen the whole thing and did nothing. The kids, after seeing the chaos ensue ran back to their parents and did their best to hide behind them. One of the Dads started to protest but the owner literally held up his hand and said “Get out”. They sulked out without looking at anyone. To my knowledge that restaurant still does a very good amount of business and I never forgot how the owner stood up for me. I make it a point to patronize that establishment every time I am in town.

I agree with Admin that one set of bad patrons would not influence my decision to frequent a business. In fact, I would be more inclined to visit given the fact that I could expect a peaceful dining experience.

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Green123 January 3, 2014 at 4:56 pm

The following text is copy-pasted from the FAQs section of the website of a small sushi restaurant in Oxford, UK:

Are you “child friendly” ?
We love children, and we often go out of our way to make children feel particularly welcome. We have two high chairs and we can prepare child-sized portions on request at reduced prices. We are very grateful when parents and carers of younger children clear up any mess on their table and floor around them before they leave, as a matter of courtesy and respect to our staff and more importantly to our valued customers sitting close by.

It should be noted, regrettably, that as Edamame is such a tiny place it is often very difficult to accomodate large push chairs.

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Cady January 3, 2014 at 6:49 pm

Because these folks were regulars, I think it would’ve been completely fair for the owner to tell them after the second time their kids trashed the place that the restaurant would be tacking on an automatic 20 percent gratuity because it took so long to clean up after them the last two times they ate there. The family could then have chosen not to further patronize the establishment, or they could’ve changed their ways, or if the bad behavior continued, the servers would’ve gotten tipped, and the owner could increase the gratuity 5 percent each visit until it stopped. I understand not wanting to upset a customer, but when that customer is upsetting other customers and abusing your staff and establishment, it’s better to lose that customer.

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Angel January 3, 2014 at 7:02 pm

If I were the OP I would have just stared at the offending family without a word. And I have done so in situations like this in the past. But why waste your breath on people like this? They are pigs. And probably will always be like this. If they were regulars at a chain restaurant and behaved like this I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually there are unwanted ingredients in their food! I have read sites like the Stained Apron and stuff like this does happen.

Personally I think that when dealing with people who are handling your food–you are very foolish to treat them poorly. If you are a regular, they tend to remember you. And may not be so accommodating in the future.

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hakayama January 3, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Posted after #33 was up.

Please stop assuming that prestigious professional status means that some individuals they were NOT raised by wolves. The current standing in the community is not indicative of their background nor how they were raised.
Just recently I was at a celebratory luncheon, and across from me there was this fully grown up woman attorney, who chewed with her mouth open and used her hands on foods that everyone else was using a fork with. On prior occasions she had stated that she did not mind primitive table manners. I don’t think that she grasps the concept that good manners are there so people do not get grossed out.
She was raised as one of two siblings, offspring of an attorney father. I know that as children they were taken to the fanciest places in the multimillion city, and I am sure that they were fawned over in many other ways. It’s a pity, however, that the parents apparently did not bother teaching them manners that would prepare them for “power meals” …
I also dealt at one point with a gal that in her native country did not go beyond the second grade of school, yet when it came to general social deportment could run circles around the esquire.

A “good” but rather loud coworker told about her experience she and friends/relatives had when on a trip in New England: upon leaving the eatery they were told “your kind is not welcome here”.
She presented it as an affront of ethnic nature, but I am sure that it was that she and company were just too loud and rowdy.
There was nothing in their looks that would distinguish them from any other fifty random people…

Among life’s imponderables I find carpeting in “family friendly” eating establishments. Even without contributions from the precious little ones, carpets are gross. Have any of you been present when old w/w carpeting was removed in a family home? UGH! DOUBLE UGH. And yet, the Surgeon General did not place richly deserved warnings on carpets…

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Kate January 3, 2014 at 8:51 pm

I think the fact that they were ‘middle class’ and the husband is a lawyer is no reason to presume they wouldn’t be boors. I have worked in a number of workplaces, and often, the least tidy workmates were middle-to-upper class people who were raised with conveniences such as dishwashers, cleaners, etc and therefore didn’t understand why it wasn’t appropriate to leave dirty dishes everywhere for ‘someone else’ to manage, dirty tissues on other people’s desks, etc.

As for the restaurant banning the family – I agree with Admin that it would be the best solution, but unfortunately, it can backfire. I have read several articles in the local news where a family complains to the local paper that they were ‘unceremoniously rejected from X restaurant for NO REASON other than that they HATE KIDS!!’. Cue clutching at pearls, how could they, etc. Then it later comes out that the restaurant owners had no choice but to ask them to leave because other patrons had repeatedly complained, or they were causing scenes like the family in OP’s story. However, the establishment often cops a lot of flak before their side of the story is aired.

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Marozia January 3, 2014 at 9:25 pm

I agree with Admin on this. The restaurant should ban this Family because of the noise, mess, disruption and disgust that they impose on the business and other customers.

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lakey January 4, 2014 at 12:27 am

There are at least two high schools in my area where it is routine for students to throw their trash, such as potato chip bags on the floor. If a parent going down the hall says anything to them the response is that the custodians will clean it up. You wouldn’t believe what the floors of these buildings look like after dismissal. It’s disgusting. People seem to think that this is unavoidable, but when I was in high school this did not occur.

I taught in an elementary school, and every grade school teacher I know makes kids pick up after themselves. However, whenever we had moms around for parties or in the lunchroom I would have to prevent them from picking up after the kids. I always insisted that the children throw away their own trash. The thing is, the kids really don’t resent picking up after themselves. They understand the fairness of it.

It just bothers me when people, whether in a restaurant, a movie theater, or a school, think that dumping trash on the floor is acceptable because someone else is paid to clean up.

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lakey January 4, 2014 at 12:42 am

I have no problem with OP making comments. People like this aren’t just a problem for the restaurant owners and employees, they are making things unpleasant for other customers. I see nothing wrong with letting people know that their slob behavior is being noticed and commented on. They may not take it to heart, but then again, it might get them thinking.

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JackieJormpJomp January 4, 2014 at 2:55 am

I also worked in customer service and once had a woman who let her kids run around making a mess as a “game”, while the mother occasionally said “Behave,” and I chased mess.

When I complained to to frineds, one told me “But you are in customer service, and it’s part of your job to deal with things like that.” And: “If the mother takes her kids out, all they learn is that bad behavuiour will mean that they can leave, which is what they wanted.” I never lose it, but this conversation, I did.
Yes, it’s my job, like dealing with a drunk vomiting in my place of business would be my job, need be. It doesn’t mean people should come in and throw up where I work.
Dealing with other people’s kids is occasionally other people’s job. Dealing with other people’s misbehaviour is a WORST CASE SCENARIO. If it means that you,the parent, can’t shop/eat out/etc that day, then so sorry, but you can’t.

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Roslyn January 4, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Disciple begins at home.

Quite simple really.

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MyWorldand January 4, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Regardless of what you might have thought, your behavior was not so great either! Muttering loudly? Really? Why would people “be disappointed in you”? It was not your place to teach manners to those parents! If the OWNERS had a problem with that family, they certainly could have spoken up. However as a child of parents that owned a mom and pop place, you never, ever make any customer feel uncomfortable. Every customer brings money in and thats what lets the owners pay their staff. Anyone that chooses to own or work in a family friendly food place, knows that there are often families that will leave a mess and that they will have to clean up after them. Its just part of the job.

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crebj January 4, 2014 at 4:47 pm

OP, for someone who recognizes that this isn’t her battle, you’re fighting quite hard to justify yourself. Were you looking for suggestions, or agreement, when you posted originally?

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Anonymous January 4, 2014 at 5:32 pm

When I was a kid, my parents took me and my brother to age-appropriate restaurants, museums, plays, movies, as well as places like the library, open gym at the YMCA, swimming, ice skating, skiing, etc. However, we were told that bad behaviour would terminate any one of those outings, and put the kibosh on future outings for a long time. Misbehaviour in an adult-oriented place would also put the brakes on fun outings, on the grounds that respect was a two-way street, and if we didn’t respect our parents’ need to go to, say, the bank, they wouldn’t honour our wish to go to, say, the skating rink, or the beach, or the ski hill. This worked, and we usually behaved ourselves in public. I don’t know why the parents in the OP don’t follow a similar parenting philosophy, but if they did, it’d make everyone’s life a lot easier.

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sylviatexas January 4, 2014 at 6:15 pm

I keep thinking that the shoe needs to be on the other foot.

People are concerned that the attorney could bad-mouth the restaurant, but really, shouldn’t *he* be the worried one, concerned that people will think less of him?

If another diner asked him, “Aren’t you worried about what this is doing to your reputation in town?”, this family’s next restaurant visit might be much different.

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Lauren January 4, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Can I just add, bad kiddy behavior doesn’t just happen in restaurants. When I used to work in an upscale eyewear store, one of the things that drove me mad is when Mommy or Daddy would be sitting with me getting their eyewear ordered or repaired, and Junior would decide to run around behind their backs pulling 400 dollar frames off the wall and hurling them on the floor. The parent in question generally had little idea their kid was doing this, and often didn’t bother to stop them. I even had a little girl run into our shop from the mall outside and grab a pair of very expensive designer sunglasses off a display stand. Upon being greeted my me, she dropped the glasses, turned around and ran out of the store. Whoever her parents were, they decided not to come in and retrieve their child OR apologize. I also had issues with parents letting their kids run around behind our adjustments counter. We have lots of sharp and pointy tools that could do a LOT of damage even in a kid’s hands, several nasty chemicals and hot metal sand-heaters that even I have gotten a few burns from. It’s not anything against children when I ask you to please call your kiddos back, I’m just looking out for their safety. PLEASE keep an eye on your offspring when you are shopping for eyewear. Better yet, put your kid up on the chair beside you.

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Mabel January 4, 2014 at 8:15 pm

@Yarnspinner comment 18:

That happened to me and two friends at a David Copperfield show years ago; this family came in and sat down and stole my friend’s husband’s seat. They would not move no matter what. We were seated in the balcony, and the usher finally told us just to follow him. We went downstairs and he reseated us–third row center! :D

It’s not polite, but I really really REALLY hope Rude Family saw that. Hehehehe.

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Anonymous 2 January 4, 2014 at 9:58 pm

This drives me nuts too. Now that my kids are 5 and up, I’d just raise my eyebrows and talk to them in the car on the way home about how people need to respect other people and their property, if they didn’t bring it up first. Although that’s a really good point — to tell the manager (in the nicest way possible) that we’re debating going to another pizza place next time, because we don’t support this behavior; it might help him/her realize that he/she is not keeping the one customer by allowing this — he/she is losing a lot of others whom this disgusts.

When my kids were REALLY little, though, (like 2 yrs old), they would ask me, “Why is that boy doing that?” and I would quietly tell them “He is being bad.” (the other parent didn’t hear it).

My top two were:

1) A mom-and-tot music class, when one little kid went into my purse (which was hidden under my coat), took out my phone, and began playing with it. When I took it away from him, his mom gave me a look that said, “How dare you take something away from my Special Snowflake!”

2) Strawberry picking, when the owner gave us all a long lecture about not stepping on the plants. My then-4-yr-old was very careful about it… then we saw a middle aged woman stomping the plants repeatedly. He kept asking me why she was doing that, and I couldn’t think of anything to say. Maybe, just maybe, I resorted to the old, “She’s being bad.” :P

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Z January 5, 2014 at 2:41 am

It really baffles me when people like the OP think it is in any way their business or right to tell that family how they can and cannot act in public. If they were a danger to themselves or others or unruly to the point of the business losing business then MAYBE are you entitled to act. Otherwise, shut your mouth and mind your own business. Seriously. If the owner of the establishment decided to ban a family(!!!) for choosing that restaurant then that owner has bigger issues. If a random stranger accosted my family and two kids and felt so inclined to voice their opinion or scowl because the family weren’t ‘proper’ then that random stranger would really get a lively retort. OP, so judgey! Lord have mercy. Start banning families from restaurants. Shameful talk. Bad business.

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