‘Well-Behaved Kids’ Discount Debate: Should We All Take Our Kids To Nice Restaurants?

Commentary — Going out to eat with kids can be downright intimidating. First, you have to make sure that everyone is dressed and looking remotely presentable and buckled in the car in one piece. Then you have to make sure you look presentable, after shuffling the kids around for an hour trying to get ready to go. If you’re anything like me, my energy is usually completely depleted by the time I turn the car’s key in the ignition. But for one exceptional family who took the risk of eating out with their three small children, the work paid off.

The family received a “well-behaved kids” discount, along with a bowl of ice cream for the little cherubs — ages 2, 3, and 8 — to share.

When Kingston, Washington residents Laura King and her husband took their family out to an Italian eatery to enjoy dinner, she expected her children to be on good behavior. They are no strangers to eating out. In fact, Laura King’s blog suggests that family meals are important at that families should take their kids to restaurants frequently. She even gives some pointers as to how to do this successfully.

The family chose Sogno di Vino, a cozy restaurant in the nearby town of Poulsbo. The restaurant is not necessarily family un-friendly, but the fireplace and romantic atmosphere give it a date-night feel. The King family, however, enjoyed their meal together.

The Kings feasted on pizza and pasta at the Italian eatery. The kids tucked quietly into their meals, making the occasional comment about the atmosphere (“Wine is grape juice, Papa,” the 8-year-old declared. “It tastes gross to kids”). At the end of the peaceful dining experience, the servers apparently exclaimed over how well-behaved the children were, and gave the King’s their receipt. On it, a “well-behaved kids” discount was taken from the tab.

One of King’s friend posted the receipt online, and it quickly went viral.

“They were just being their normal selves,” King told TODAY.com. “Our server came to our table and just really thanked us for having exceptionally behaved children.”

The King family has received much media attention since their night out on the town. On her blog, King responds to the discount drama: “We don’t expect handouts for acting respectful of the folks who bring us our food. But it certainly makes you feel good when someone else notices your kids in a positive light.” As a mother, I certainly agree with that sentiment.

Rob Scott, the owner of Sogno di Vino, says he’s given out good-kids discounts before. But this was the first time he noted it on the receipt. When speaking with Today.com, he “fondly recalled the King family, describing the children as the epitome of good behavior: they were very polite, didn’t neglect to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ and stayed seated during their visit.” Scott goes on to note that is often not the case when families visit.

Many children, he said, end up shouting and running around the restaurant un-checked.

“So we go to the parents and say, ‘I’m sorry but we really need little Johnny to sit down and not run around and yell and scream… because he’s bothering some of the patrons.’ And parents will take an attitude to the point where we’re almost afraid to say something,” Scott said.

“Sogno di Vino means ‘to dream of wine,’ it doesn’t mean Chuck E. Cheese. We love Chuck E. Cheese, they do a great job. That’s why you go to Chuck E. Cheese, so the kids can play.”

While many parents feel they should be able to take their kids to any restaurant they choose, some parents look forward to a night off. Hillary Almond, fellow Kingston resident, told The Inquisitr, “We’re not leaving our kids with a sitter so we can go out and eat with other people’s kids.” Almond, mother of 5-year-old Billy and 1-year-old Molly, says that just because a restaurant is “under 21 and provides a high chair” doesn’t mean its family friendly. It is difficult to predict how kids will behave in public, and some would say that it’s better to stick with more family friendly eateries then risk offending other diners.

Almond has been to Sogno di Vino on a date with her husband, and said it would be a difficult environment for small children, especially toddlers.

But King says that her kids know how to eat in public, and the family enjoys eating out together.

Maybe that is the crux of the issue: When I take my kids out to eat, I must admit that I want to enjoy adult conversation with my husband. Too many times, I am trying to shush my 11-month-old or keep my 3-year-old occupied so that I can relax. But King says that when they go out to eat as a family, they are prepared to “engage with their kids.” King suggests noticing “the people, art, music, food in the room and talk about it.” She writes, “Encourage your kids to talk with you just like you would talk with another adult. Enjoy the time you’ve carved out to be with them.”

Maybe if parents — including myself — spent more time engaging with our children when we are out to eat, they wouldn’t be grasping for our attention by throwing french fries at our heads or crawling under the table (true story).

On the other hand, maybe I’ll just engage with them at home. Then I can throw french fries back.

Do you take your kids out to eat at nice restaurants?

[Image via Shutterstock]

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