Chef’s dilemma: Ban crying tots or let eatery suffer?

Posted at 6:08 AM, Jan 15, 2014

( — Should patrons with crying babies be banned from high-end eating establishments?

That’s a question many on the Interwebs are answering Tuesday after an award-winning chef posed the dilemma on social media over the weekend, saying that a couple with an 8-month-old was causing quite a scene at his Michelin 3-star eatery and that “Diners (are) mad.”

HLN learned of this story on Twitter, where chef Grant Achatz, who owns and runs the venerable Alinea Restaurant in Chicago, had his followers in a tizzy Saturday night when he posed this dilemma to his followers: “Tbl brings 8mo.Old. It cries. Diners mad. Tell ppl no kids? Subject diners 2crying? Ppl take infants 2 plays? Concerts? Hate saying no,but..”

The question immediately set off a surge of tweets of the “Don’t you hate those critters?” variety, and the “Wait, fine dining is where we go to escape our kids,” type, while others took the high road, opting for a more measured tone. “Have early sitting for children,” one Twitter user suggested.

In the past three days, the issue, which has produced a hilarious parody account on Twitter called @AlineaBaby, has been addressed on sites across the Web and has become a sort of referendum on parenting. But should it be?

Nadia Jones, a mommy blogger and founder of the Niche Parent Network and Conference, told HLN on Tuesday that the onus is on parents to do the responsible thing. “I wouldn’t bring my 8-month-old or an 8-year-old to a high-end restaurant like Alinea, but that doesn’t mean there should be a ban against babies or children. The ban should be on parents that don’t know how to use their good judgment or common sense in these situations.”

“If a parent decides to bring a child and he or she gets fussy, step outside so that others can enjoy their dinner and cocktails. This makes sense at a casual dining restaurant and especially a high-end restaurant,” said Jones, who blogs at JusticeJonesie.

Achatz, whose establishment issues tickets in advance for seating, told “Good Morning America” that the issue is still a tough one and that even in the kitchen, he could hear the baby crying. “We want people to come and enjoy and experience Alinea for what it is, but we also have to be cognizant of the other 80 people that came in to experience Alinea that night,” he said.

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