A popular restaurant is catching some heat after visitors noticed a sign posted at the front of the establishment. The owner succeeded in sending a clear message to parents, leaving many furious.
Old Fisherman’s Grotto in the touristy Fisherman’s Wharf of Monterey, California, is no stranger to making national headlines and stirring controversy. In fact, a sign they’ve had posted for years has repeatedly drawn negative attention for the establishment. First gaining attention in 2014, it seems owner Chris Shake is standing firm since his “anti-children” sign not only remains posted but has once again resulted in the ire of a new crop of mad moms.
Restaurants having and posting rules is not unusual, but perhaps what Chris Shake requests of his customers is a bit uncommon. “No strollers, no high chairs, no booster chairs. Children crying or making loud noises are a distraction to other diners, and as such are not allowed in the dining room,” a sign placed outside of Old Fisherman’s Grotto boldly states.
“I think it’s ridiculous. I think kids need to know how to behave in restaurants, and if you, don’t take them to them, they don’t know how to behave, and they shouldn’t be kept hidden away,” tourist Teresa Colombani said, voicing her displeasure over the sign that she found offensive. “Kids should be allowed in restaurants.”
“I would probably not go there to not deal with that sort of atmosphere,” Kelly Lozano added, expressing her feelings on the sign. “It surprises me because this is a family place — where you go with your kids for vacation.”
Another customer claims she was turned away when she asked for a high-chair for her 6-month-old baby. “I’m completely shocked because I never had that happen,” she said. “Usually, they cater, at least have a high chair for the child, but it seemed like they didn’t want any child. They said the child can’t make any noises so they turned us away.”
More recently, Angela Espinoza of Pittsburg posted about the restaurant’s policy in a Facebook group geared toward Bay Area moms after she and her husband had planned to celebrate their anniversary at Old Fisherman’s Grotto. “Whoa. I’ve never seen this before. I’m canceling my reservation at the restaurant after seeing this picture on Yelp – and I will not even have my toddler,” the mother of a 19-month-old boy wrote.
The owner of Old Fisherman’s Grotto isn’t backing down.
The couple was planning to spend the weekend away from their son, so having her child with her wasn’t the issue. Instead, the self-described seafood lover says the restaurant no longer appeals to her because of their attitude towards children. “The sign is discriminating toward any children who need a booster seat and younger no matter what,” she said, according to KTVU. “I also feel it’s the wording, it’s not nice at all. Maybe ‘adults only’ would be more understandable.”
Espinoza couldn’t be more wrong with her allegations of “discrimination.” The owner had the language on the sign approved by an attorney to ensure it was not discriminating. As for the criticisms about not being a kid-friendly place, Chris Shake unapologetically said that if parents don’t like it, they can go elsewhere. “If a place has the rules, that’s what the rules are,” he said. “You go in and abide by the rules or you find a place more suitable for you.”
According to Shake, the restaurant, which has been in business since 1950, has become well known for its quiet dining experience, and the policy has actually been good for business. “We have many families who dine with us with their children who are well behaved and understand our policy with respect to other diners,” he said. “What we have found on those who write negative reviews about our policy are those who have not dined here but become offended by the sign and our policy.”
Many agree with Shake, seeking out the restaurant solely for a dining experience that excludes noisy children. “No strollers, no boosters, no highchairs. This is what got me to go into this restaurant!” Yelp user Alondra J. of San Francisco wrote in approval of the policy. “Just the thought that I would be able to have a peaceful meal with no kids yelling, sometimes it’s needed. In all seriousness, people need to not get so hurt by this. There was definitely kids inside the restaurant when we dined in.”
Reviews confirm that people have dined at the restaurant with their children, but according to Yelp user Robin M. of Oakland, it’s not a pleasant experience. “At one point, another waitress told us people were complaining about our kids and could they be quiet. I’ve never been told to hush my kids before. When I made a comment to the waitress, she told me there was a sign outside with rules for children,” she wrote in her review. “They are apparently not joking. She was not just unapologetic but incredibly rude about the whole incident.”
Is the restaurant not kid-friendly or is it simply geared towards a quiet, adult-friendly experience? Does every establishment have to include kids? As parents, we sometimes try to have kid-free outings, so why is it offensive for a restaurant to provide a place where adults can find just that? There are plenty of places to go with your children, but there aren’t quite as many establishments you can count on to provide and ensure a kid-free, peaceful experience. If that’s what you are seeking, go to Old Fisherman’s Grotto. If you’d rather a restaurant where your kids can be as loud as they wish, choose someplace else. It seems pretty simple to me.