If You Bring a Baby To a Restaurant Like Alinea, You’re an Idiot

FILED TO: Society and Culture

Grant Achatz shouldn’t even have to consider whether to ban children from his Chicago restaurant, Alinea. He shouldn’t need to risk drawing national news coverage and putting himself in the crosshairs of outraged, entitled parents who believe their little angels and their own parenting skills are special, even though many of them are likely to never set foot in Achatz’s restaurant in the first place.

And yet he’s having to do just that. Grant Achatz, one of the best chefs in the country if not the world, is now getting attention for something other than his incredible molecular gastronomy after he was forced to stop dinner service at Alinea last Saturday night because of a wailing eight-month-old a table had brought with it.

In the wake of the incident, he fired off this tweet:

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Now, why shouldn’t Grant Achatz have to consider — publicly or privately — whether to institute a ban on babies at his restaurant? Because no one should be fucking stupid enough to put him in that position to begin with. You don’t bring a baby or toddler to a restaurant with three Michelin stars. Alinea isn’t Outback Steakhouse. Like Troi Mec here where I live in L.A., you have to buy tickets for the restaurant in advance which cover the cost of the evening’s tasting menu; if an emergency comes up, like, say, you can’t get a babysitter for that night, you can sell or transfer the reservation.

Maybe that sounds pretentious, but make no mistake: Alinea is no ordinary restaurant. Eating there is an event, and it’s not one that you should be allowed to spoil for everyone else who was smart and considerate enough to have not brought a baby with them. It goes without saying that the whole crying child fiasco was entirely the fault of the eight-month-old’s parents. The baby is a baby — it has an excuse. The parents have none.

A ban isn’t what’s necessary. Common sense is.

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 3.48.27 PM

You know?

Update: My friend Mary Beth Williams over at Salon has a good take on this. Also, throwing the shout-out she gave me back at her.


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  • Steve

    I think this goes for many restaurants/cafes. Adults have rights to adult spaces beyond late-night 18+ style things.
    An adult should be able to go to a reasonably nice cafe, and have a nice coffee, and not have another adult totally disregard social etiquette and bring a child therein. Young children can’t help their behaviours, and they also can’t help the fact that an adult cafe/restaurant isn’t an environment for them. They can’t help being bored and frustrated.

    Their parents however are more than capable of knowing this and planning accordingly.

    Those parents who take their young children to these places deserve to be tutted at, to be stared at. They also deserve to be asked to leave if they cannot be considerate enough to make the call on the behalf of their kids and everyone else to.

    If the kid doesn’t want to be there and the rest of the clientele don’t want them to be there then guess what? You’re staying out of selfish stubborness.

  • Rnote

    Go to France. People there do not take their children to restaurants until they are old enough to sit still and be quiet.

  • JimmyAbra

    I’ve always been very tolerant of crying kids. Since I have had kids I am selective and consider if places are kid friendly or not. Obviously this place is not. Though, I give the couple credit that had the kid and after spending the money on this place they probably couldn’t afford a sitter…I’m guessing most people with kids can’t. I’m guessing the people who complained in the restaurant don’t have kids…I know as a parent, there is nothing that puts me at more ease than a crying kid with whom I don’t have to deal! ;)

    • S in DC

      No fuck that, the parents were assholes for inflicting a kid on the public and ruining shit for other people. Everybody would have been in their right to insult them and hurl things at them, even confront them outside after and given them a verbal thrashing that couldn’t have been aired on cable.

      They are bad people and should be treated as such.

      • JimmyAbra

        I agree poor judgement. But “bad people” based solely on this? C’mon?

      • Christopher Foxx

        Everybody would have been in their right to … hurl things at them

        Simply, no.

    • Gunnut2600

      Jimmy…this is like having tickets to a Symphony, the sitter cancels, so I bring my kid vice using common sense. Also, if a set of parents are spending that much on a meal, and they can’t afford to skip it, their priorities are pretty fucked up.

      • JimmyAbra

        I agree there was poor judgement…The “credit” part was more tongue and cheek. I am not certain if we know the parents knew what they were getting into or the entire story. But let’s be honest…this isn’t a symphony. It is a Lincoln Park restaurant..and area which is great because of its location and many young people with many to spend and families alike. Many establishment get a lot of walk ins. Were there reservations made in this case?

        • Gunnut2600

          Jimmy, this is not a walk in place. This is a place in which you pay months ahead of time for a food experience. It makes as much sense bringing a small child to this place as it would to bring a child to a rock concert or late night bar.

          • JimmyAbra

            OK. And I agree it was bad judgement. But in lieu of any policy and them not being turned away at the door the primadona chef should not be twitter shaming.

          • Gunnut2600

            But how was he twitter shaming them (I fully admit, I am COMPLETELY ignorant of twitter)? I would assume, that would mean he posted like their personal information or picture. How would anyone specifically know it was them, except for the people who had their night ruined?

            I thought he just basically brought this up primarily as a way to basically say “Look…I never thought I would have to say this…but don’t be an ass”. I am sure the “No shoes, no shirt, no service” sticker was created specifically because people had to be reminded. Is that like analog twitter shamming?

            (Seriously…I am not trying to be an ass…I find twitter both confounding and weird).

          • JimmyAbra

            That is OK. I guess I may be expanding the term – rightfully or not. Though he didn’t name the people he is making a general shaming. He may be hoping those who would get the message would know who they are. Whether he did or not. It is acting very childish himself by lashing out and calling attention to himself for a policy that he created after the fact.

          • Gunnut2600

            I took it more as a public apology to the people in the restaurant who may have had their experience ruin.

          • JimmyAbra

            I guess the key word is public and then going on national shows. He could have personally apologized and gave a discount if it were such a problem.

  • bbiemeret

    As a server for many years, I swore if I ever opened a restaurant, I would have a no child policy. Some places are family appropriate, others are not. I enjoyed the reviewer who said “Fancy restaurants should not have to specify no babies, the same way they should not have to specify yes pants”.

  • S in DC

    Sorry Chez but….

    I don’t think price, complexity, or three stars are some magical “not for baby” cut off, and yes I eat at those places off and on. People should not be bringing babies to most places at all. Unless it’s a fucking McDonalds, you’re ruining someones night out that they probably won’t get another chance at. If you bring a baby into that situation, you’re an instant asshole and deserve to be shat on by everyone around you.

    There’s a certain arrogance with some parents that “I paid my money, that’s all that counts” which is utter bullshit. Sure, paying money grants you some leeway to piss off the people who you paid the money to (not ruin their night, but you’re the customer), but it NEVER gives you the right to fuck things up for all the other paying customers you just shat all over and slapped.

    Since I’ve probably already doomed myself with the “proud parents” crowd I’ll go one further. My ass didn’t start eating dinners out till I was four and could use chopstick and a shrimp fork. I acted up once, I got slugged in the face instantly and then had the crap kicked out of me at home. Never pulled that stunt again.

    Whenever you bring a baby, just keep in mind you’re about to ruin someones special dinner, play, night out, perhaps even proposal. You’re a fucking asshole, and that crying shit factory is not a magical talisman that lets you do what the fuck you want.

    • LoewLife

      All of my yes.

    • Christopher Foxx

      There’s a certain arrogance with some parents that “I paid my money, that’s all that counts”

      Another aspect of that arrogance is how quickly and self-righteously these folks would get pissed off is someone else spoiled their evening.

  • Steven Skelton

    …and columns like this shouldn’t have to be written. Some people are just idiots. There are many on a Facebook post in my feed who think the chef was out of line. We have to share a planet with them.

    • bbiemeret

      WTF? I fail to discern the point of this post.

  • trgahan

    A great piece of restaurant advice I heard a few years back was: If a restaurant has a long detailed wine list and no children’s menu; GET A SITTER!!

  • Victor_the_Crab

    Fish heads, Fish heads,
    Roly poly fish heads,
    Fish heads, Fish heads,
    Eat them up, yum!

    • Christopher Foxx

      Horrendous squeal
      I had to see
      Could it still be
      I looked inside
      Loudly it cried



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