Pissed. About what you ask? This whole "BRAT BAN" movement that is going on now-a-days. Specifically, with the "non-kid friendly" environments in some restaurants. Pissed. Pissed. Pissed.
Did I mention I'm pissed? LOL!
Let's rewind to 1973. Ok, maybe 1976. At. The. LATEST. My parents were and are not strangers to fine dinning and they NEVER felt the need to exclude me, their baby, from these wonderful culinary experiences. In my hometown of Timmins, fine dinning wasn't the "norm" but I can assure you that as a child, a very young child, I dinned at the few upscale restaurants we did have. Hy Graders Steakhouse, The Senator & one of only two fondue (yes, including an OIL fondue) restaurants I have ever had the pleasure of eating at. All I know is that it took ONE look from my mom and 8, I repeat EIGHT simple words to put my misbehaving ass back into it's place, "Do you want to go o the bathroom?". I'm not sure WHAT, if anything happened in the bathroom but as soon as I heard those words we were back to having a very fun, non-disturbing meal in a high flatulent restaurant. By the time I was eight, I was travelling to Florida with my family twice a year and I enjoyed some of the most unique, upscale dinners that I have ever had, even in my adulthood. Because of those wonderful experiences, I now have somewhat of a "rich taste" when it comes to ordering my meals while eating out...something Daddy Dave is not all that appreciative of. LOL!
Fast forward to 2010. My children had their very first dining experience 12 weeks after they were born and again at 14 weeks old. You see, my parents were visiting and they wouldn't let me "shy away" from taking them out, despite my protest. My mom was quick to remind me that she never excluded me from "restaurant outings" and because of that, I knew how to behave and what to expect. It was a real eye opener for me. Ya sure, they wont remember that they had lunch at the Cheesecake Cafe or dinner at Joey Tomatoes less than 16 weeks after they were born or that in the span of less than 24 months they had dinned at many, many different establishments. But that's not the point. They will also be able to confidently say that they too, were NOT excluded from the restaurant experience and I am proud of that.
Fast forward to November 2011, 2 short months before their 2nd Birthday. My parents were once again up visiting and we decided that we would head to one of my all time favorite restaurants. Actually, it was the same restaurant that we brought Ave & Bryce too when they were only 16 weeks old. Joey Tomatos. At the time, the were still content lying in their bucket car seats while we dinned but I had very little concern bringing them there given the "type" of restaurant and their well learned good behaviour while eating out. However, when we arrived I was appalled when we were told that they didn't have highchairs and/or booster seats to accommodate their needs.
After having a similar experience in Florida in January at a restaurant, it prompted me to write the following email to the General Manager of Joey Tomatos just last week:
My name is Ginger and I have been a longtime customer of your restaurant. My girlfriends and I frequently get together and enjoy fabulous food, cocktails and great conversation at the Crowfoot Joey Tomatos. We are always extremely pleased with the service, ambiance and overall experience.
Late last year my parents were up visiting and I wanted to bring them to your fabulous restaurant. My family and I, 4 adults and 2 children (age 2) arrived at the restaurant only to be totally shocked that they did not have highchairs and/or booster seats to accommodate my little budding socialites. I, of course, voiced my concern regarding this as I strongly feel that it is very discriminatory to not include the needs of little dinners in the equation of any restaurant. I was told that if I had something in the vehicle that would make dinning with my two children easier, I was more than welcome to bring that in. I am not sure as to what your staff may have been referring to as I do not travel with my own highchairs. I figure this was an attempt at trying to downplay the unfriendly child environment and eliminate any further discussion regarding discrimination. Meaning, that your restaurant wasn’t saying that we couldn’t eat there with our 2 year old twins, we just need to make our own accommodations for them to be able to be comfortable and actually sit at a table.
I am sure you can understand my frustration as I can understand perhaps, where your company may be coming from in regards to not wanting “unruly” children dinning in such a nice establishment. However, I am appalled that your restaurant does not cater to families with young children. While there are the few who may not understand the etiquette of dinning with young children, it seems insulting that those of us who do and respect others, suffer as a result.
I thank you in advance for taking the time to read and respond to my concern regarding the fact that your restaurants do not have highchairs and/or boosters.
Please stay tuned for my conversation I had with the Manager of Joey Tomatoes in Calgary, AB less than 24 hours after sending this "feedback" and how I'm still PISSED. P-I-S-S-E-D!