Fine baby dining

Mud in the Blood already has a post up about this,

Mother charged £3 to take her baby into Britain's largest restaurant... even though newborn was only being breastfed

but having worked in the hospitality trade for a good few years I thought I should also step up to defend the actions of this restaurant.

A furious mother has revealed she was forced to pay £3 to take her newborn baby into Britain's biggest restaurant.
Natasha Young, 34, explained that her son Kaedon was only six-weeks-old and that she was still breastfeeding him.
Ok, I have to ask at this point, what did you call him? Do we just make names up these days?
But staff at the Cosmo restaurant, in the Valley Leisure Park, Croydon, were adamant they wouldn't take the charge off her bill.
They said the little boy's pushchair was taking up space in their mammoth 800-seat, 22,000 sq ft oriental buffet restaurant - which is the biggest in Britain.
The restaurant has introduced a £3 charge for babies as a new policy, even if they're too young to eat.
Their gaff, their rules has to be said here, but there's a lot more to it than that. I once worked in a restaurant that catered for children and supplied high chairs for babies. Whenever a family with a baby would leave, the highchair, the table and about 2-3 square metres of carpet around the high chair would be covered in food and have to be cleaned before the next family sat down.

In the case of babies who were only eating baby food, we used to get a lot of mothers coming to the bar and asking us to warm up the food in the microwave. Sundays used to be rammed, and warming up baby food would take a member of serving staff off the bar for a while.

In the end I decided not to do that on a Sunday anymore. Of course the parents complained bitterly, so I would tell a story about one mother who tried to sue us because the baby food was too hot. It wasn't a true story but it was believed every time.

And then there's babies who are still being breast fed. I won't give you my opinion on mothers who get their breasts out in a busy restaurant because it's irrelevant. The law says they can do it so they can do it. However, the law does not say you have to allow a baby onto a licensed premises.

It's not just the mess and the inconvenience to staff, it's also the annoyance to customers. Many people do not want to have a meal out and listen to somebodys baby crying throughout. Others don't mind so much.

Some parents will take care to make sure their sprog does not make too much mess and they will take them outside for a bit if they are wailing. Other parents will treat the whole dining experience as an excuse to not care for an hour or so, letting the place get shit up and ignoring the crying child.

Some restaurants are geared up for children and quite happy to welcome them. Parents will go there because of the inviting atmosphere for them and there kids.

Other restaurants want to provide a child free environment, and adults who do not want to be around children will use those.

Businesses tend to cater to the market. It's like smoking. Some people don't like cigarette smoke so they choose to go to a none smoking pub. Others who smoke will....oh.
Natasha, 34, from Thornton Heath, Croydon, visited the restaurant last week.
She said: 'I was told the pushchair was taking up space. I have been before - the last time I went was in July and there was no mention of it then.
'This has only come about since last week.
Some parents will take their children to a non child friendly establishment and then expect to be fully catered for, like the woman in this story. Our restaurant would never have charged a fee for taking up space; you don't do that if you sit three people at a table for four. This place may just want to discourage babies from their premises and are levying a fee rather than banning them outright.
'I was really upset and angry - I could not believe it. I have never come across something like this before. It's disgraceful.'
That's an excuse I've heard many a customer use to get around the rules. "I've never heard that before". "You never said that last time". And here's a good one, "There's no signs".

National Childbirth Trust member Delilah Conolly said: 'Slapping a fee on mothers with babies to eat in a shopping centre restaurant is nothing short of ridiculous.
'It is already difficult enough for new mothers to find the time to make trips out. They do not need the added obstacle of being made to feel unwelcome in public spaces.
It's not ridiculous, it's perfectly acceptable business practice. It's fine to have some restaurants that cater for children and some that don't. The managers decision is final. Pity we can't do the same for smokers.

If a mother finds it difficult to find time for a trip out, that's her issue and nobody elses. Some venues not welcoming children is not an obstacle to her. She just needs to find one that does rather than imposing her wants on a private business owner.

'This simply amounts to a tax on mothers. What next, will the restaurant charge larger people or shoppers with lots of bags a fee for taking up more space?'
Tax goes to the government, don't be silly. I don't think the fee really is about the space, rather than discouraging babies who cause a nuisance to other diners.

A spokesman for the restaurant declined to comment.
I think that was a mistake. This could have been a very good opportunity to put their case forward.

At the end of the day, it's up to the manager who he let's in his gaff and what he charges. Market forces will decide if his choices are the right ones or if they need to be altered. This woman and her baby did not deserve column space in a national newspaper.

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