It’s happened to every childless person at least once. You’re out at a restaurant trying to enjoy your meal when a family comes in and all kiddie hell breaks loose. Before you know it your space is being encroached upon by a baby seat or perhaps the peaceful silence is broken by a cranky toddler refusing to eat their chicken fingers and fries. Either way it’s annoying and you wish they would take their chicken fingers to go so you can eat in peace. In response to that sentiment being expressed by some of its customers some restaurants have started charging small surcharges for families and in some cases banning children all together.
At Cosmo Restaurant in South London’s Croydon area, a mother was charged an extra £3 (around $5) on her bill for bringing her 6-week-old son along even though he didn’t eat. Although she complained Cosmo’s staff refused to remove the charge and told her she had to pay because her baby was taking up space in the 22,000 square foot restaurant. The uproar that the so called “baby tax” caused prompted a formal apology from Cosmo Restaurants, who claim it was all a misunderstanding:
“We pride ourselves on making children and parents feel valued — which is why we serve thousands of families every single week. The Minimum Charge Policy is intended for toddlers who eat but not as much as a child. It was and never will be intended as a charge for Prams or for babies. COSMO would like to assure customers that this is an isolated incident and we will be retraining all employees at Croydon as a matter of urgency.”
But not all mothers were outraged by the charge. The Stir’s Adriana Velez thinks that a policy that charges for babies isn’t all that crazy:
“Come on, parents. Haven’t you seen the mess your babies leave in restaurants? If it’s not the mess, it’s the stroller people keep tripping over (which should be either left in the car or folded and stowed completely under the table), or it’s the crying, or it’s the restaurant food the baby actually is eating, or it’s the way the baby distracts the parent who spills her own tea — you get what I’m saying.”
While many of us would applaud a “baby tax” now, most of us won’t stay childless forever and at some point will become part of a family with a cranky toddler, so with that in mind, is it fair for restaurants to charge parents for bringing children, will we think it’s fair then? Another issue is where do the surcharges stop? If you allow surcharges for babies, will you be okay with surcharges for loud talkers, people who curse, people who linger at tables over one glass of watered down Coke during peak times, etc? Personally I feel that when it comes to dining with children fees aren’t necessary. Parents should simply use their best judgment, procreating doesn’t make you Top Flight Patron of the World (cue Day-Day) and give you the right to ruin a peaceful meal for someone else. But that’s just one person’s opinion.
What do you think of restaurant surcharges for children?