Dining Room Becomes A Play Room

March 11, 2008

in Non-Stories

Hey Dev,

Last night we ate at a restaurant where two kids ran rampant. Despite nasty stares from other diners, the parents didn’t seem concerned about their unruly kids running, yelling, and even playing hide-and-seek under some of the occupied tables! Surprisingly, even though the restaurant is a pricy one, staff ignored the situation. What should I have done?

– Peeved

Dear Peeved,

There’s a special place in hell (where the thermostat is set on extra high) for inconsiderate parents who allow their little demons to use the dining room as a substitute play room. All too often, attempts to enforce social norms (such as glances of disapproval) aren’t effective against such clods. The responsibility of dealing with these matters ultimately lies with management. Since nothing was done, you could have spoken with the manager or server. And if that didn’t work, then it would have been best to tell the restaurant that you’re going to take your business elsewhere.

Dev the Dining Devil

[Note: Dev the Dining Devil mysteriously disappeared into parts unknown and therefore we’re no longer able to continue this feature.]

Theresa Higgins February 22, 2009 at 7:04 pm


You forget that the waitstaff is working for tips from all the tables, not just the ones with impeccable social graces. It is not the responsibility of the waitstaff to say something to these irresponsible parents, that is for the management or a gently worded request to parents from the offended diners. The waitstaff is already dodging kids, cleaning spills and looking for dippy sauce as well as trying to make up for the disruptive atmosphere in the dining room.

In today's "restaurant owes everyone something" atmosphere, a word from the server would probably be considered an insult to these precious gifts to society running around and yelling in the dining room. And that , of course, leads to some type of discount on the check or complimentary dessert, lessening the final total and the tip. A good customer shouldn't hold a restaurant completely responsible for some people's bad manners.

Dev February 23, 2009 at 7:06 am

Dear Ms. Higgins,

In no way did I mean to imply that the server should be the one that speaks to the parents, which is why I stated that ultimately the responsibility was management's. I should have added that the server would relay the diner's concerns to management. You're absolutely right that it could affect one's tip. Also, it would carry more weight if it was management who spoke with them.

I do believe though that restaurants need to address situations that can significantly diminish the dining experience of their customers. Patrons shouldn't have to pay their hard earned money for an unpleasant time. And it's in the restaurant's best interest to do what they can to help ensure that diners want to return.

Rob April 2, 2009 at 5:36 pm

The place isn't a playground.

That was a period. .

Every business requires its own decorum. If you were at Chuck-E-Cheeze or McDonalds, fine.

If you are at a restaurant where staff will wait on you, it requires something else.

Pissing off 10 tables to please 1 isn't a good bet.

jennie w August 17, 2009 at 3:30 pm

ive been a server when parents let their lil spawn run allover i even had to spill boiling hot coffee on my self so the lil spawn didnt get burned ugh i got the scars to prove it. i got 2nd drgree burns from the coffee the owner made the spawns parents pay my bill at the clinic. hehehe it was a family run resturant and the ones who who let their spawn run lose talk about a surprise of that bill they came back to resturant and the owner told them that i got 2nd drgree burns cause of their lil damn brats running around and he told them if they didnt pay they would get sued . and the owner put up a sign on the door saying if u dont keep kids at the table and reasonably ouite that they will be charged triple what the bill would be and wouldnt be allowed back in the resturant ever. i miss the owner may he rest in peace he was a good man and stood up for his workers. he didnt give a shit who u were coming to the place if u had kids he would personally go to the tables and ask parents to keep kids at table and if off chance he wasnt there like on a errand and i was there we were given the right as servers to tel the patons that .

waittron February 9, 2010 at 11:53 pm

Most parents I know would flip out on anyone, especially the restaurant manager for daring to say anything about their precious, perfect children. People gets very defensive when you question their parenting skills. I once got chewed out by my manager for saying something to a family whose 3 year old was running around on a busy night. I was almost tripped by the kid while holding a sizzling hot skillet dinner. I could have severely burned the kid or myself. I asked the Dad (nicely) to please have his child sit down, I explained to the Dad that it wasn't safe for his kid or our staff. Well, Dad was furious. He yelled at my manager, how dare I tell him how to raise his kid, he is a paying customer, his kid can do whatever he wants, blah, blah. The manager told me not to ever say anything to anyone again about their kid. Do you think the Dad would of had a different reaction if the manager asked him to keep his kid seated? I think not.

Robert February 14, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Of course most parents would flip out. Anger is a standard reaction to having your embarrassing short comings pointed out to you.

I am 100% behind management addressing the issue of unruly out of control children and once the parent starts flipping out the manager kicks them out of the restaurant. Everybody wins!

Jill February 20, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I encountered a similar problem w/ brats. I brought it up to the wait staff who said I had the choice to move and he might "bring it up to the manager." Manager never spoke to me or cared. I said I'd take my business elsewhere – this was the 2nd time we dined there and the restaurant turned into Chuck E Cheese for us. AND I wrote corporate AND their Facebook. A) Never heard back and B) They deleted my FB comment.

Mel November 2, 2016 at 12:32 pm

The staff usually can do nothing about it without completely sacrificing their tips. They already have to deal with you not tipping them based on the actions of others; at that point, they were probably just hoping the unruly table would tip them. Stop blaming the wait staff for the actions of patrons. If the server or manager had gotten involved, the server would've seen all of his tips gone from all the annoyed tables and the unruly table too. You just can't win as a server, no matter what.

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