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California Restaurant Doesn't Allow 'Loud' Children And Parents Aren't Pleased

Marilisa Racco 3 Jan 2020

There are a lot of things that unruly children have been known to ruin: flights, movies, family gatherings, any scenario in which adults other than their parents are present. (And even then, I doubt their parents are having a great time.)

But one restaurant in Monterey, California, is taking a firm stand in not allowing said unruly children to ruin anyone's meal.

The Old Fisherman's Grotto is a long-standing local restaurant.

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A Monterey institution, the Old Fisherman's Grotto has been around for 70 years, and serves up fresh, local seafood, steaks, and pasta. The restaurant is well-regarded as a classic go-to in the town's Fisherman's Wharf district.

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Since 2011, the restaurant has been implementing rules regarding children.

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It started with not allowing high chairs and strollers in the dining room due to space restrictions.

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The owner says it's because the restaurant is small.

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On the restaurant's Yelp page, owner Chris Shake wrote: "Old Fisherman's Grotto is a relatively small restaurant and we found that having strollers and/or high chairs at the tables and in the aisles made it difficult to have full access to get to and around tables."

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And the children themselves have some restrictions as well.

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He also said that crying and loud children are not allowed in the restaurant.

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It's about ensuring everyone is having a pleasant dining experience.

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"We adopted our children's policy in 2011 to provide an overall enhanced dining experience for guests who frequently dine at the restaurant, by giving them an alternative place to eat on Fisherman's Wharf that has a quiet atmosphere."

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Families with children are welcome at the restaurant, however.

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Provided they abide by the rules and don't disrupt any of the other patrons' meals.

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Although the restaurant has had a sign regarding children out front for years, it has recently come under scrutiny.

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Yelp reviews with pictures of the sign declaring the restaurant's policy regarding children abound, and the reaction has been less than positive.

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One mom canceled her reservation there even though she wasn't planning on bringing her child.

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Angela Espinoza, a Pittsburgh mom, said she canceled her reservation at the restaurant after learning about its policy. She was meant to celebrate her anniversary there with her husband (and without their son), but she felt the policy was "discriminating."

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Some people agree with the policy.

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Some patrons have written in their Yelp reviews that they appreciate the policy and, in fact, have chosen to dine at the restaurant specifically because of it.

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It's more about the wording than anything else.

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Angela believes that the issue is with the wording on the sign, and said that if it had simply stated "adults only," there wouldn't be a problem.

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Regardless, the restaurant has no plans on altering their sign or their policy.

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"We have many families who dine with us with their children who are well behaved and understand our policy with respect to other diners," owner Chris Shake said to KTUV.

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The owner believes that the people who complain about their policy are just being reactive.

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"What we have found on those who write negative reviews about our policy are those who have not dined here, but become offended by the sign and our policy."

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This isn't the first time a restaurant has placed restrictions on children.

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In 2016, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver announced that he would ban strollers from his now-closed London restaurant, Fifteen, due to space restrictions.

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In fact, it became something of a global trend in the mid-2010s.

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According to an article in Eater, between 2013 and 2015, a slew of restaurants around the world announced they would ban children altogether.

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Restaurants from the U.S. to Australia put restrictive child policies in place.

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At Cuchara in Houston, the policy was put in place after a child scratched the wall with a coin, costing $1,500 in damages. And at Flynn's in Australia, "screaming babies" led to a ban on all kids under seven.

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The restaurant owners who put these restrictions in place say that they've only helped to boost business.

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When Mike Vuick, owner of Pittsburgh restaurant McDain’s, banned children under six from his restaurant, he said that his customers were happy.

His restaurant (which is now closed because he retired) was located near a driving range, which meant his clientele tended to be older and more conservative.

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Vuick's customers believe children should be left at home.

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“We did it on behalf of customers who said they left their children at home with a babysitter and now there’s a kid over there screaming their head off and ruining the customer’s dinner,” he told Eater.

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At the Old Fisherman's Grotto, it's more about the parents' attitude than the children themselves.

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"People just feel because they’re paying for service, that it’s their space," Shake said to Eater. “The more we did [to restrict children], the more we realized that our dining room got quieter, the guests were enjoying it more, and even some of the mature guests were commenting on how nice it was not to be around kids.”

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Are you offended by the sign?

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What do you think? Would you still eat here and would you bring your kids?

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