Hey, this ain't Denny's....

When asked how he liked kids, the late W.C. Field replied: “I like children. If they're properly cooked.”

So imagine how he would have felt had he been at the trendy Alinea restaurant Saturday night when some parents, who just had to be there, brought their 8-month-old kid.

Got it?  Alinea, not Denny’s.  Alinea, got it?  Where your dinners run between $210 and $265 per person – depending on the day of the week—and that does not wine, tax and tip.  That’s per person, not couple, not family.  A person.  You don’t make reservations; you buy tickets by the time slot.  This place is ranked numero uno in Chicago and as high as No. 15 in the world – the world, got it?

But some people just don’t get it.

It seems that folks just put themselves first and could care less about other people.  Word is that the couple’s baby sitter canceled at the last minute and rather than change their reservations (which are probably not easy to come by), they decided that they should have a nice dinner out even if it means causing an upheaval for other diners, let alone owner and renown chefs Grant Achatz and Nick Kokanos who, it has been reported, weren’t sure how to respond.

In some ways it is a tough call because if you ask a young couple to take Muffy or Chip home, you become the bad person.  After all, it’s only your business.

What would have happened if the kid was an angel and the parents started arguing or whining?  Wanna bet things would have been different?

Of let’s say mummy and daddy have a wee bit too much to drink and get a bit loud and obnoxious.   There wouldn’t be any sympathy.

Seems to me that once your name’s on the door and your reputation is on the line, you can either tighten thing up, or adjust.

Can you imagine if Alinea had a drive-through?  Just call it mousse-the loose.  The line-up of BMWs would go down the block.  How about a kids’ menu?  No chicken fingers here, just appendages a la squab with a French dipping sauce.

No doubt there will be cynics who will say that you can’t blame the kid.  No one is. The kid probably wanted to be home nappin’ away or watching the Blackhawks, not stuck with the ‘rents .

So if restaurants can enforce a dress code, limit alcohol consumption – why can’t they have decorum policies that make it pleasant for everyone.  Not every restaurant is a family restaurant.

I can’t help but wonder what would happen if Achatz and Kokanos showed up at the couple’s respective offices and disrupted their operation.  They would probably be chastised for impeding corporate productivity.

But when people pay big bucks to dine, they think they own the place with little regard for anything else.

As Field once reportedly said… “Madam, there's no such thing as a tough child -- if you parboil them first for seven hours, they always come out tender.”

Sounds like a good recipe for some parents.

Godfrey Daniels.


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  • Other than paying $265/plate, the principle isn't any different, unless some adult wants to eat at Chuck E. Cheese. I remember when my nephew went into a crying fit until his mother realized that he wouldn't eat the waffle because it had a whipped cream smiley face on it. I would have socked him if he weren't my nephew. Now he is 30 and very wealthy. And his brother used to tenderize him by giving him a "Rude Awakening" on a concrete floor, but that doesn't seem to have affected him in an adverse manner.

    Maybe you also explained why the line of BMWs that used to be to get into the drive through at the McDonald's in Deerfield (way out into Waukegan Road) isn't there any more.

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