I believe in supporting businesses who do the right thing, especially when the right thing is difficult to do.
You may shop at stores that sell local farmers’ produce, or eat only sustainably-grown food, or buy clothing made without child labor.
I like to eat at restaurants where there are no screaming children, or at least at which parents behave responsibly for their children.
Saturday night, we had dinner at Enoteca Drago, which is one of the (I think) twelve restaurants owned by the renowned Drago brothers in Los Angeles. You may have heard me talking about the sushi restaurant in our neighborhood? It’s Sushi House Unico (SHU), owned by Giacomino Drago. Enoteca is one of the restaurants of brother Celestino, who opened the original Drago in Santa Monica and now has Drago Centro in downtown LA. The food at all of these restaurants is spectacular.
So we showed up on Saturday, just a few minutes early for our 6:30 reservation, and we were seated immediately – the restaurant wasn’t yet busy (but it soon would be). There was a couple at a table at the other end of the restaurant with a child, probably under 2 years old, who as soon as we sat down, let out an ear-piercing, top-of-the-lungs screech. It happened three more times before we ordered wine. The parents are apparently people who believe you can reason with a 2-year old about how much noise s/he makes. There were (adult) fingers put over (adult) mouths, as if to shush, but not really accomplishing any actual shushing, and I saw the woman ask the child not to scream. As if discussing this logically with a 2-year old will yield the intended result. There was no movement by either parent to pick up the child and remove her from the restaurant before, during or after any of the screams.
I must have cringed each time the kid screamed, because our waiter came over and assured me that if it happened again, they would ask the couple to take the child outside. I nodded and of course appreciated this recognition that a restaurant customer was behaving poorly and having a negative impact on other customers’ experience.
There was a table of four people at the far end of the restaurant, as far away from the baby table as they could be at Enoteca, and all four of the patrons were shaking their heads with disbelief that this child had not been taken outside.
Do you remember your mom saying this to you? “When you were a kid, if you even thought about opening your mouth in a restaurant to make a noise, I would scoop you up and rush out of the restaurant with you.” Is my mom the only one who parented this way in the ’70’s?
While I appreciated the comment from the waiter, I have to admit that I didn’t really believe it. I mean, restaurants can’t go around pissing off their customers, and if a customer wants to sit and have dinner while their kid screams, most restaurants really won’t do much about it, despite how many people are annoyed. And here’s why I’m writing this piece today.
The kid screamed again. And the waiters descended upon the table. First, one waiter went and quietly spoke to the father. I thought he just asked him to take the little girl outside. But it was even better. They were asked to EAT at a table outside (on a lovely patio, with lovely heat lamps, and a lovely view of Beverly Hills passersby – it’s not like they were asked to move to a table in the alley). And so the father picked up the kid and stormed out to his new table, growling “it’s a public restaurant!” to the hostess as he walked past her. The wife/mom literally sat at their table and continued to eat, glaring at everyone who was willing to make eye contact with her in the restaurant, as two other waiters removed food, drinks and silverware from their table to transfer them to the outside table. I thought she was going to make them pick her up right in her chair.
It was as if a cloud had lifted. This restaurant is not a library! But there’s a difference between a normal restaurant talking and eating noise level, and that level pierced with intermittent child screams. People do not go out to dinner to hear other people’s kids scream. I don’t care what time you go out to eat, and I don’t care how cute your kid is. There is no time at which it’s OK to allow your child to scream constantly, and not do anything to stop it. Really, this couple embodied the height of self-absorbed entitlement.
And the restaurant did the right thing.
You know what? It’s a lesson we should all have learned from Star Trek: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
I made sure to thank the hostess, and the manager, when I had the opportunity. We would have gone back anyway, because the food is great, the waitstaff is attentive, the wine list is robust. But now we will definitely be regulars. Fire up that Bomba for us, Celestino – we’re coming back.
I recommend you take a trip over to Beverly Hills, if you haven’t been, and pop in for lunch, or dinner, or drinks. You’ll love the food. And tell them you appreciate the way they look out for their patrons.