The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of The Davis Clipper.
In his more than 50 years in the restaurant business, my friend Hersh Ipaktchian has seen a number of changes.
Garbage collection fees used to be less than $2; the fee now approaches $500. Monthly rent of his first fast-food restaurant was $325; today the rent of one of his sit-down restaurants is nearly $20,000. He purchased his first three stores for a total of $69,000; today, that would cost between $4 million and $6 million.
One other thing has significantly changed: the way children often act in restaurants.
“Children used to behave fairly well,” he said, “because their parents expected them to. Most parents still do, but there are a growing number of adults who abdicate their responsibility.”
Last week he saw it firsthand. While visiting one of his Iggy’s Sports Grill restaurants, he and his wife were seated next to a booth containing a couple and two children around the ages of 4 and 7.
“The kids were running wild,” he said, “jumping up and down on the booths, crawling on top and nearly knocking down lamps. The parents didn’t lift a finger to settle the kids down.”
So Hersh became “the parent”, shouting at them to sit down and stop climbing on the booths. The parents were shocked that a stranger was speaking harshly to their children. As the couple was leaving, the husband told him, “We’ll never return to this place again. You have no business talking to my kids that way.”
“Well someone has to teach them to respect property if you won’t,” replied Hersh. “And as the owner of this restaurant, I’ll ask that you never again come in here until you’ve taught your children to behave in public places.”
George Bernard Shaw wrote that children are more troublesome than barnyard chickens. However, unlike chickens, children can be taught to behave either through bribery, threats, a kindly swat on the backside, or effective parental modeling Р or a combination of all four! It’s not the duty of a restaurant or any retail establishment to become a jungle gym for children who don’t receive effective parenting.
Raising children isn’t easy, but children can learn that a restaurant booth is not a trampoline.
When Utah law required restaurants to provide separate smoking and non-smoking sections, I wrote that legislation also be introduced requiring separate family and no-children sections. Children, I wrote, could be as much of an irritant as cigarette smoke. A reader sarcastically wrote back that obviously I had “perfect” children.
No, they were not perfect Р but they knew better than to jump on booths and annoy customers. I figured they were my responsibility, not the restaurant’s. Fortunately, I suspect most of us have this same old-fashioned way of thinking.