Taking children to restaurants is an excellent idea that should be done as often as is pleasurable and practically feasible, but part of that is making sure kids are quiet and reasonably well behaved. Unfortunately, a lot of parents don’t adhere to that guideline, and restaurants are full of loud or rowdy children. Restaurants never seem to know what to do about that, either. Do they ban children entirely, thus throwing the quiet ones out with the loud ones and potentially getting a reputation for hating kids? Do they let the kids run around and risk losing the customers who don’t want to deal with that? It shouldn’t be the restaurant’s job to deal with a bunch of rowdy kids, because it’s the parents’ job. But if the parents aren’t doing it, sometimes the restaurant has to. Now one restaurateur in Italy came up with a pretty ingenious incentive, and is offering a special “polite children” discount to families with well-behaved kids.
According to The Guardian, Antonio Ferrari is the owner of an Italian wine bar that does a large business on Sundays of hours-long lunches for big families. Big families include kids, though, and while Ferrari says most of the kids are reasonably well behaved, a large minority of them are excessively rowdy. According to Ferrari, about 30 percent of the families that come to his restaurant have young children running up and down, getting in the way of servers, bothering other customers, and generally being loud and in the way. He said they even ran in circles around other tables of diners, splashed water in the bathrooms, and acted like they were on a playground.
Ferrari said he’s tried to ask parents to try to get their particularly unruly kids to behave, but the parents said the restaurant was a “public place,” and that their kids could do what they wanted. (Maybe rude parents lead to rude children, creating a cycle of rudeness that will continue forever.)
Then one day a big party of about 11 people came in, and they had five small kids with them. Ferrari steeled himself for another afternoon of spilled drinks trays and loud children, but the kids were perfect. They sat quietly, ate their food, entertained each other, and did not trip a single waiter.
Ferrari was so impressed he was inspired to give the family a five-percent discount on the bill, calling it a “polite child discount.” The family was of course very happy about that. Everyone likes to hear that other people noticed their kids being particularly polite.
Since then, Ferrari’s been offering the discount to everyone who comes in with polite children, and it’s doing pretty well. Knowing that there is a “polite child discount” is either incentivizing parents to keep a more active eye on their kids because they want to save a few bucks, or it’s just reminding parents that they are sharing the space with people who would prefer a bit of quiet. Either way, it seems to be making a difference.