If your 5-year-old has a jones for the crab cakes at McDain's Restaurant, which the menu boasts are “The Best Around — Period,” you’d best take him or her there by Friday. Or be prepared to get the food to go.
Beginning Saturday, children 6 and under are no longer welcome at the restaurant in Monroeville, Pa., just outside of Pittsburgh. They’ve just become too much of a bother for the other customers.
Owner Mike Vuick built the neighboring golf center 22 years ago, then opened the restaurant nine years ago. Young children have become an increasing issue in that time, he says. But don’t accuse Vuick of hating kids — his problem is mostly with the parents.
“Parents have gradually diminished their cooperation,” he said, adding that the new policy is strictly in response to customer complaints.
“This is a three-part issue. One is the increasing number of small babies that can’t be controlled. They can’t be quiet and really they can’t be expected to.”
The second factor is kindergarten-aged kids who “have shown increasingly poor manners.” And lastly he blames parents, who “act like we’re the ones being offensive” when staff members ask them to calm their children down.
Vuick describes McDain’s as “upscale casual” and isn’t even sure why customers would want to bring their kids.
“This is a very genteel, quiet place. Very adult. We have 68 seats here, and 24 of them are in the bar.”
“If I had children of these ages I would never contemplate taking them to this place,” he said. "We've never even had a children's menu."
He let customers know about the impending policy in an e-mail. The response, he said, has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I’m looking at 419 e-mails in my inbox right now,” he said, saying the subject lines were along the lines of “Thank you” and “Nice job.”
Not everyone, of course, agrees. Pittsburgh TV station WTAE spoke to customer Stephanie Kelley, mother of a 13-month-old, who said she eats at McDain's weekly. Or used to.
“I can't believe this. I am offended. This is just an ignorant policy," Kelley said.
Vuick is unswayed. He expects no drop-off in business. And as far as state authorities have told him, his decision is completely legal.
“You know, their child — maybe as it should be — is the center of their universe," he told WTAE. "But they don't realize it's not the center of the universe."
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