I was in Red Hen Bread on Lake street a little while ago. A mother was wrestling a noisy child out the door, and when she saw me, an older-bordering-on-elderly person looking at her, she said, “I’m so sorry.”
Realizing I may have been projecting an unintentionally stern demeanor, I quickly smiled and said, “No worries.”
Kids, to me, are the most amusing, interesting people, and I’m usually fine with them making all the noise they want.
It’s understandable, though, that some diners find children’s behavior offensive – and their doting parents irresponsible.
According to owner Mike Vuick, “We feel that McDain's is not a place for young children. Their volume can't be controlled and many, many times, they have disturbed other customers."
"We've had the place here for 22 years,” Vuick continued, “and I've noticed…there are certain parents who can't leave their children at home. You know, their child -- maybe as it should be -- is the center of their universe. But they don't realize it's not the center of the universe."
McDain’s is not the first restaurant to make it clear that children – especially loud, wild and unmonitored children – are not welcome.
Last year, Dale Levitski at Chicago’s Sprout banned children from brunch because, he said, "[Sometimes you] go out to brunch and there are kids smashing Cheerios next to you." Out of concern for the comfort of his diners, Levitski made it clear he didn’t want kids bawling during brunch.
There are a lot of kids in Oak Park. There are also a lot of Oak Parkers, middle-aged and older, who maybe want to have a quiet meal without listening to children crying.
And it has not escaped my notice that children, though accompanied by parents, are not uncommon at places like Poor Phil’s and even some bars on Madison Street, which raises the question of whether children at some bars and restaurants may be inappropriate for reasons beyond the noise they might make.
Have you ever felt that, maybe, some Oak Park restaurants should keep children out, at least during certain hours of the day?