McDain’s Restaurant in Monroeville, PA made headlines recently when the owner decided to ban all children six and under, stating that they were disturbing the other customers. The restaurant has been open for nine years, and in that time owner, Mike Vuick, noticed a pattern among some of his patrons. Parents would bring in their young children, and not leave or try to quiet their children when they would get unruly.
Starting July 15, Vuick decided to solve this problem by prohibiting any child six or under from entering his premises. He did not make this decision out of any malicious feelings toward the children themselves. In fact, in an interview posted on www.wtae.com, a news site local to the area, he explained that the problem is because although there is “nothing wrong with babies, […] the fact is you can’t control their volume.”
He understands that children and babies can be loud sometimes, and that there are times when the parents are not able to prevent their child from getting upset. The problem began when parents would keep their noisy children in the restaurant, instead of removing them from the restaurant. As a result, Vuick decided to take matters into his own hands and simply prohibit all children six and under from entering, since that is the age group that he feels was causing the most problems.
His regular patrons have expressed gratitude, indifference, and anger after learning of the decision in an email that he sent out the week before the new policy was enacted. Some long-time customers feel that they are being forced to choose between their children and their favorite place to eat together. It has stirred up a lot of interest and other restaurants have started enacting similar policies following the wide publicity that McDain’s Restaurant has received.
In Vuick’s case, he enacted a ban on all children under six, while another restaurant in Carolina Beach, N.C. recently put up a sign informing customers that “Screaming children will not be tolerated.” By singling out a certain behavior, it attracted the attention of a mother with an autistic child. Autistic children will scream and cry when upset, and often there is little the parent can do but wait for the child to calm down.
Because the sign specifically pointed out behavior that is common among autistic children, this mother felt that her son’s rights were being violated. She is currently considering building a case against the establishment for unlawful discrimination.
While neither restaurant is allowed to prohibit certain classes of people, such as the elderly, preventing children from entering a restaurant is not considered unlawful. By placing a ban on all children, Vuick managed to avoid the discrimination lawsuit that the restraint owner in Carolina Beach could now be facing.
There is a fine line between enacting policies that unlawfully discriminate, and trying to cater to a certain clientele. In any case, if patrons of McDain’s Restaurant want to keep coming to eat, they’ll have to set a little extra money aside for the babysitter from now on.