Crying baby at Alinea prompts the question if children have a place at high-end restaurants

Baby YellingA crying baby at a high-end restaurant has been the topic of much discussion both in Chicago, where the 3-Michelin-star restaurant resides, and amongst the nation as the story has garnered national attention.  Recently a couple brought their 8-month-old baby to the 64-seat restaurant because the babysitter for whatever reason couldn’t watch the child.  The baby proceeded to cry throughout the entire dinner which prompted many patrons to complain to management. 

Alinea is rated amongst the best restaurants in the world.  Reservations must be made several months in advance.  Meals cost about $235 per person excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.

Chef Grant Achatz tweeted:

“Tbl brings 8mo.Old. It cries. Diners mad. Tell ppl no kids? Subject diners 2crying? Ppl take infants 2 plays? Concerts? Hate saying no, but…”

While most commentators have sided with the disgruntled patrons, there are many who empathize with the parents.  People pre-pay for their meals at the restaurants.  Tickets are non-refundable; though they can be transferred to others.  Personally I don’t think these parents should have brought the baby to the restaurant.  They should have at the least decided at some point to leave early, in consideration of other patrons.

While I would never pay that absurd amount of money for dinner, to many people this very well could be their only time they can afford to dine at the esteemed restaurant.  Why should their dining experience be tarnished and ruined?  I think it is common-sense and proper decorum that the parents should have been more self-aware of their selfishness.

In addition, I think they could have asked the manager to reschedule their appointment due to their circumstance.  If I had waited for what seemed like forever to have “an experience of a lifetime” only to listen to a crying baby I would not be happy, to put it tamely.

A Dessert Offered at Alinea

This situation reminds me of when parents bring their children to other public events without the consideration of others.  For example, I have had parents bring their infants to late-night showings of movies only to hear their child yell without pause.  NOT COOL PEOPLE.  NOT COOL.

I understand that it must be difficult to raise children.  I am not even advocating that parents closet themselves inside their house until their child goes off to college.  What I am trying to state is that parents need to understand that as a parent they have willingly altered their social lives.  They must now make accommodations within the construct of their new family structure.  I’m sorry but if you decide to have children you have to understand that you will not be able to do what you want whenever you want.  There are certain sacrifices you are signing up for when you have children.  It’s the truth, whether parents accept it or not.

If I were to go to Olive Garden or another family oriented restaurant then I think I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with what happened.  It’s the fact that these people paid $500 for a superb dining experience only to be besmirched by the actions of a few others.  Not all public areas are appropriate for young children.

What do you think?


Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate



About adrakontaidis

A conservative who doesn't pander to the GOP.

9 responses to “Crying baby at Alinea prompts the question if children have a place at high-end restaurants”

  1. gardenaki says :

    Totally agree with you on this one.

  2. JF Owen says :

    This is a tough call. If it weren’t for the “prepay” and “non-refundable” aspect, I would say that the parents should have forgone the evening when the babysitting fell through or left when the baby became unconsolable. That’s the considerate thing to do. There were many times when our children were too small to understand reason that my wife and I had to make similar decisions.

    However, with no recourse other than to lose THEIR $500, I can understand the thought process the parents went through and how they came to the decision to go to the restaurant.

    The root issue here for me is the non-refundable condition. If a restaurant owner, or the owner of any other business for that matter, wants to impose that kind of absolute condition on it’s patrons then he/she should expect and be prepared for unpleasant things to happen.

    Babysitting arrangements fall through, people get sick, cars break down, family emergencies arise…life happens. If a business owner doesn’t give people an escape route to deal, they’ll come up with their own.

    If I’d have been the restaurant owner, I would have graciously offered the parents the option of shifting their “ticket” to another day. Shame on him for not understanding the situation and forcing the parents to be an inconvenience to the other patrons.

    Did the news reports indicate that they didn’t make an effort to ask to reschedule?

    • realtalkrealdebate says :

      I agree. I think the owner is just as responsible. From all the sources I’ve seen or read there has been no mention of the either side trying to reschedule. Of course that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

      • V says :

        I would generally agree with this stance, but then I read on Jezebel that the restaurant actually allow people to swap and exchange tickets on their Facebook page, and people are often selling their tickets on Craigslist for face value or below.

        Also, it’s worth noting, that the restaurant reports the table was originally booked for three people, insinuating that the couple in question had always intended on bringing someone else. Whether that someone else was another adult or their baby, I have no idea.

        Having said all that management and the head chef should have offered them an alternative date when they rolled up with the eight month old. It might have been selfish of the parents to bring their baby to such an establishment, but said establishment could have handled it with a little more grace. Taking to Twitter seems a bit tactless.

      • realtalkrealdebate says :

        From what I now understand, there was no cancellation of a reservation. I think it is terribly selfish and kind of dumb if they thought a baby wouldn’t get fussy at some point during a hours long event.

        I think the restaurant shares blame. They have to take their other customers needs into consideration. I think it is indignant that they won’t change their policy. As for the Twitter I think it was the chef who took to Twitter and not the owner.

  3. Nancy says :

    It would be nice if the restaurant could reschedule. But there is a 6 month waiting list for this place. I don’t think any restaurant is worthy of 6 month wait yet alone a $500.00+ tab.

  4. jana shepherd says :

    The chef is also an owner, by the way..

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