Parenting

Why one restaurant refuses to offer high chairs

Parents are outraged over Earls' family policy, but online editor Jenny Charlesworth isn't so sure the restaurant chain is out of line.

Photo: Mari/iStockphoto

Would you take your tots to Hooters?

Of course, not.

So why get up in arms over Earls Restaurants not being kid-friendly?

The Canadian chain is being lambasted by parents for not offering high chairs or restroom changing tables at their restaurants, according to MSN Canada. Am I the only one who finds it strange that the Internet is ablaze with moms and dads demanding more from the Moxie’s-like eatery? Because, aside from the lack of pylon orange, Earls and other resto-lounges like it aren’t that far off from the much-snickered-about boob bar.

Just like Starbucks, where you can count on your latte tasting just so whether you order it a block from your home or a 600 miles away, these type of restaurants pull out the standard stops: Dim-ish lighting; twenty-something girls parading around in La Senza push-up bras; every gal with a tray dressed in hip-hugging black. Which, is totally fine (albeit arguably obnoxious) since that’s the vibe they’re after.

Here’s some insight into Earls’ family policy:

… although we at Earls love families, we would not classify ourselves as a family restaurant. Our restaurants do not, as a rule, offer highchairs & booster chairs or changing stations. I know this may not be the response you are looking for, but I hope you can understand that we have an obligation to our customers and our shareholders to make the best decision for each business.

Clearly, the resto-lounge marketing brief wasn’t created with a breastfeeding mom and toddler in trainers in mind. They were never out to get your dollars, moms and dads. Sure, they’ll gladly take your money, but it’s the happy-hour crowd, the cocktail-in-hand diners requesting extra Wasabi with their trendy appy, who these restaurateurs hold near and dear.

That’s not to say anyone with a BABYBJÖRN should avoid the place. But there are probably better places to take your tykes. I’m sure Earls still makes a mean chicken fingers and fries (my regular order as a high-schooler growing up in Vancouver where I frequented the Earls location is question), so by no means am I saying anything bad about the restaurant. I’m just stating the obvious: This is an establishment heavy on sexy subtext.

A quick poll of Today’s Parent staffers reveals I’m not alone in suggesting parents pass up certain places when looking to feed the brood. Our site’s Managing Editor Nadine Silverthorne will tell you: “I would never ever take my kids to anywhere that’s a breastaurant or a resto-lounge. If it’s got a clubby vibe, it’s not for us and I’m OK with that.”

Are you outraged that a popular restaurant doesn’t have high chairs at the ready? Or are you happy to skip some places when the vibe isn’t quite right for your family?

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