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Babygate Renews Debate About Children in Restaurants

Written By Scott Joseph On January 20, 2014

Have you been paying attention to Babygate? Do you follow AlineaBaby on Twitter?

Babygate, or AlineaBabygate, erupted when a couple took their infant to Alinea, an ultra expensive Chicago fine-dining restaurant owned by Grant Achatz. One doesn’t merely make reservations here, one buys tickets, which also means the dinner is prepaid (except for wine and alcohol) and nonrefundable. And it’s expensive: a typical dinner for two will hover close to $500. It is, by most accounts, a special occasion restaurant.

So when the aforementioned baby who was accompanying his parents began to wail mid dinner, other patrons were understandably perturbed. An expensive meal in a hard-to-book restaurant was essentially ruined, at least in terms of the ambience.

And thus restarted a debate that restaurant goers have been having for, oh, I don’t know, maybe 300 years or so: Should unruly children be allowed in restaurants.

Achatz weighed in on Twitter, according to this article from OnlineAthens. He acknowledged that people were upset but also stated his frustration that to ask the couple to leave would also be upsetting.

The extenuating circumstance is the restaurant’s prepaid policy. The couple in question had purchased their tickets but then lost their babysitter at the last minute. Instead of losing the cost of the dinner, they decided to take the little tyke with them.

What would you have done?

In the debate that has followed, Achatz and others at Alinea say they do not have any plans to change their kids-allowed policy. I wonder why not?

After all, our own Victoria & Albert’s has for several years restricted access for children under 10 years. And it’s on the property of Walt Disney World. And I recall even before V&A instituted its policy being in Las Vegas and seeing numerous signs that said children under 5 were not allowed.

So the debate rages on. Sometimes loudly, and sometimes drowned out by the squawking child at the next table.

Please comment below.

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