Help Me, Help You: Service and Dining Out With Children

My own experience made me consider starting a sensitivity clinic for waitstaff on how to deal with families in restaurants.


Louise is five and a half. She started dining out when she was three weeks old at Izakaya Den and never stopped. She was the fussy newborn at the sushi restaurant nursing under a cover, the toddler in the French cafe restless on her seat, the little kid asking for some crayons in a hole-in-the-wall ethnic joint. Last September, we threw a wrench in our set-up: We had another baby. It’s always daunting to take kids out to eat, but we know our part of the drill. The guessing game – the make or break- comes from the staff of the restaurant we choose and how they handle those dining out with little kids.

To waitstaff everywhere, I want to say: Help Me, Help You. Dealing with families is simple and straightforward, and it makes everyone happier- you, us, and the rest of the guests in your dining room. Here are my thoughts:

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  • disqus_CDllhSCc6z

    Great post, Andra!

  • Heather Baringer Carp

    Love this!

  • allie

    Get over yourself. If you need something at a restaurant, you ASK FOR IT. Not sit and pout and wait for someone to read your mind.

    • Andra Zeppelin

      Good service is not mind-reading, but it does require a good amount of empathy. The same way a good wait person notices a dropped napkin and brings another (without a guest having to ask for one, he or she will also see a kid struggle with a water glass that is too tall for them. All I am saying is that waiting on parties with kids is actually easy if a bit of thought is put into it and a little bit of empathy channeled.

  • Snowy

    I’ll give her the location thing. Having kids running around a restaurant is annoying and dangerous, and if you can put them in a booth so they’re trapped between parents and the wall, it’s a good thing. Ditto for putting them close to the bathroom for safer trips. (Ever see a kid go to the bathroom and stick his probably-unwashed hand in the salad bar on the way back? Yeahhhhh.)