Restaurant baby ban re-ignites debate

We’ve had some heated discussions here on the Advocate blog over the years. The post tallying the most comments and controversy? It wasn’t supportive housing projects or churches buying shopping centers. It was toddlers eating at restaurants and parents disciplining their kids (or not).

An upscale restaurant in Ottawa recently re-ignited the debate when they declined to seat a group of patrons who brought along a three-month-old baby. After being turned away by Taylor’s Genuine Food and Wine Bar due to their “no baby” policy, the family filed a human rights complaint. Canadian talk shows and newspaper columnists have covered the controversy and been inundated with heated responses on both sides.

You may recall that I wrote a short piece two years ago about my experience have dinner on a Friday night in the Mi Cocina bar. My husband and I wondered if we were dining aboard the Black Pearl alongside Captain Jack Sparrow – running and hollering and sword fights and hissy fits plagued our attempt at date night. (In MiCo’s defense, I’ve never again seen it as bad as it was that night.)

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Dallas Morning News columnist Jacquielynn Floyd wrote about her own experience with out-of-control Francesca at a store. As a writer accustomed to controversy and angry comments, Floyd was amazed at the dust storm her piece kicked up.

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Meanwhile, Ottawans await the verdict of the Human Rights Tribunal. The chef’s wife is described as “torn up” over the flap, saying the policy was “for everybody’s comfort” and stressing that the trendy wine bar – open just a month – isn’t “adequately equipped to handle either strollers or infants.” Some parents are enraged at the policy they call discriminatory. I’m thinking the debate may not end with one tribunal’s decision.

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  • Julie Alexander

    I don’t truly believe that a No Baby rule is required anywhere, I think PARENTS need to be responsible for their children. I have been to restaurants where I wanted to say “Keep that kid is his seat”, but I have also witnessed parents getting up, walking out and taking care of business.
    Having said that I BELIEVE that if I open a restaurant, I have the right to say who I serve.
    My question is, “Will the new signs read ‘no shirt, so shoes, no babies, no service?”
    For goodness sakes, does the government (courts) need to be involved in every decision everyone makes?

  • m

    There was a restaurant in Atlantic City when I was growing up that was known for their anti-baby policy. The end of their answering machine message said, “And if you’re planning on bringing your toddler, go to McDonalds instead.” It was a fancy place and they didn’t want screaming, crying babies to be there. I don’t remember anyone ever getting up in arms over the policy, and certainly no one filed any lawsuits. It was quite the opposite, in fact: most people thought the message was funny and people knew to get a baby sitter if they wanted to dine there. It seems like these days people really like to find things to be up in arms about.

    Personally, I don’t think an anti-baby policy is a big deal at all. Though, it would be a bummer to find out upon arrival.