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Baby, don't mess with my upscale restaurant

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In the March issue of RH, editor Michael Sanson discussed a controversy that erupted after a couple arrived at the very upscale Alinea restaurant in Chicago with an infant. Sanson questioned if the restaurant handled the scenario correctly and also asked the general question, “Should babies be allowed in upscale restaurants?” Here are some excerpts of replies from readers.

I would be willing to bet if the restaurant offered to refund the “non-refundable” $200 ticket, the couple would have accepted in a heart beat and rescheduled for a later date. Little gestures like this go a long way with guests.

Photo: Media Bakery

I think any restaurant should have the right to refuse service to anyone as long as their policies are clearly posted and well communicated at the time of the reservation. This is not discrimination. As for the question of hospitality, the chef/owner should set the example for all his employees—“no cell phone at work and in the kitchen”

Brenda Conner
Food and Beverage Administrator
Wheeling Island Hotel Casino and Racetrack
Wheeling, WV

We would be more than happy to overlook our no refund policy so that you may better enjoy your meal at a later date. The ball is in their court to do the right thing. There should be an age restriction in such a fine restaurant. Chef Grant Achatz was reacting to the situation at the time, not his best decision. I would guess that most customers would take the deal and feel as though management had been more than fair to them.

Bob McGovern
Packards restaurant
Northampton, MA

I believe that as a business owner you have a right to run your operation anyway you see fit. That being said, sometimes cooler heads should prevail. Grant is a cool cucumber as you put it, but we are all human. Grant puts his heart and soul on every plate and at his level, the pressure is intense.

These guests were not named in the tweet. Grant was venting a little and also getting an opinion from others. Our restaurant is not even near the high level of Alinea, but I prefer not to have kids in our restaurant. No matter which side people take, at least it may make parents think about how a child might affect others when they dine out. Mutual respect between patrons and the restaurant operation goes a long way.

John Mathias
Big Fish Grille
& Bigbash Caterers
Wilmington, IL

My solution: First of all understand that the parents of an eight month old needed a night out and had planned this evening for some time. I would have invited the couple back as my guests at a mutually agreeable date/time, packed a small meal for two to go with the least expensive bottle of wine they could enjoy at home. That, at least, preserves some of the evening for the couple, the atmosphere for the guests and enhances the service reputation of the restaurant.

It’s almost guaranteed that the couple would have posted that positive event on social media for the benefit of restaurant. The word of mouth would have been well worth the $400 in lost revenue and the cost of the small meal and wine.

Al Zehnder
Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth
Frankenmuth, MI

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