The following is a commentary submitted by the author.
A couple of Fridays ago, my husband and I scooped the kids up after work and preschool to eat dinner at what we considered a Northwest Philadelphia family-friendly restaurant — Earth, Bread + Brewery.
After I told the hostess my name for the wait list, she awkwardly handed me a slip of paper with the new-to-us “child-policy.”
Say what? My body grew tense and I felt like my mostly-behaved toddlers were ticking time bombs.
I scanned over the paper further which included the phrase “we feel the need [to] make certain that children behave respectfully.”
The note read on as if I was incapable of parenting so they were going to do it for me.
I grew angry and quickly took to Twitter.
The policy essentially said don’t block aisles and staircases (which is a great everyone policy) but what came across to me and other parents I spoke with was: “We don’t understand why you cannot just make your child sit still and be quiet.”
No parent goes to a restaurant and wants their child to misbehave. Not a single parent.
“Most families with young children who visit Earth respect the social decorum that is expected in a public setting,” said owners Tom Baker and Peggy Zwerver.
They pointed out that “Earth is a great place for parents to demonstrate and teach their children the proper way to behave in a restaurant.”
I agree with that, but what their note did was call out normal child behavior (like getting out of your seat) in a formal policy to parents as if it is a parenting failure.
Despite the coloring books and high chairs made available to kids, this does not make your restaurant welcoming to families with children.
In an email to me, Baker and Zwerver further elaborated:
“Recent incidents have resulted in injured staff and arguments among guests. The increased liability risks associated with unsupervised children have caused us to be proactive in this issue. We can assure you that operating a restaurant is very difficult. Trying to accommodate all of our guests is our greatest challenge. We don’t wish to lose any guests because of incidents that are beyond our control. Our staff loves seeing children enjoy our place. We sincerely hope that all families appreciate our concerns in the matter and visit Earth soon.”
So I say it again, why wasn’t this simply made an everyone policy?
Nobody wants staff to get injured and no one wants to have arguing tables (can we have a no adult-fighting policy?).
The owners did assure me that to prevent anyone in the future feeling singled out they will now place the policy in all their menus instead.
Local families have flocked to Earth, Bread + Brewery since it opened, children in tow.
School-aged children visiting friends at neighboring tables or a toddler leaving their seat to stare at Germantown Avenue through the window are not parenting failures — they are signs of life in our community, a community that Earth, Bread + Brewery has helped to build.