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:
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.
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.