"No Strollers. No High Chairs. No Booster Chairs."
That’s one of the three not-so-inviting signs hanging prominently at the Old Fisherman’s Grotto in Monterey, California announcing that “Children crying or making loud noises are a distraction to other diners, and as such, are not allowed in the dining room.”
NBC affiliate KSBW reported that the hanging of the latest sign in the popular restaurant is stirring up a firestorm among parents who feel the signs are ageist. The first two signs were hung two years ago, and a third sign was added last month.
"I think it's ridiculous," tourist Teresa Colombani told KSBW this week. "I think kids need to know how to behave in restaurants, and if you, don't take them to them, they don't know how to behave and they shouldn't be kept hidden away, so I think it's ridiculous. Kids should be allowed in restaurants."
Daniel Sanchez was one of more than 250 commenters who posted their thoughts at the end of the KSBW web article, saying that his 5-year-old son sat on his knees through the meal since he wasn't given a booster seat. "That said," Sanchez wrote, "we all hated the food. Owners shouldn't bunch all kids into one. (The) owner is obviously a prima dona."
Comments began pouring in on the NBC Bay Area Facebook page, too.
While many are appalled their little tykes can't down a Mexican-style prawn cocktail or slurp a bowl of bouillabaise, there are plenty of others who are siding with restaurant owner, Chris Shake, who said if customers don't like the rules, they can go somewhere else for dinner.
"Fisherman's Grotto is not a place for parents to take their small children," wrote a woman identified as "Kelly." "It is where people want to go when they want a quiet and/or romantic meal."
Fiona64 added: "Exactly. This is not a mac-and-cheese/chicken fingers sort of restaurant."
Shake added that he isn’t backing down, and that his business has never been better.
"If a place has the rules, that's what the rules are," Shake told KSBW. "You go in and abide by the rules or you find a place more suitable for you."