Friday, May 1, 2009

Dining out is for everyone!

It’s sad, but true that parents around the country, and probably world, avoid dining out with their children in tow. On a email group I subscribe to, a newcomer to the city asked where would be the best places to bring their 2 year old for Happy Hour. I sent some suggestions of places I've either been or have heard about. Then one reply came in from a commenter and I was compelled to blog about it. She basically tells the original poster that it’s not worth the effort to go out with children and that once her child turned 5, they stopped all together. I was dismayed to hear this. First, why deny yourself the socialization? Second, why deny your child the experience? I believe very strongly if you follow a few simple tips and start taking your child out to restaurants at an early age you can have a perfectly wonderful time. They will learn to behave and be respectful and you will not kill your social life.

We’ve all had issues at restaurants. I know it can be more of a pain then a glass of Pinot can cure, but if you don’t do it at all, what happens when you’re forced to? Your child will be even crazier since he/she won’t be prepared or knowledgeable on how to behave.

So here are my tips and please, please, please don’t stop going out to dine. Oh, and if you know of kid-friendly spots or know some neighborhood establishments that would like to institute a family friendly night, pass them along. After the tips I list some places around the city that do just that.

1. Going to a restaurant with a child much like flying with one. Bring plenty of things to keep your child occupied. Crayons, stickers, books. Keep them busy!

2. Bring additional snacks and drinks. I know you’re going to “eat”, but sometimes the wait for the food is just too long for little ones and a lot of places don’t have bread baskets.

3. Explain before going to the restaurant what you are doing and how you should act. Quiet, cordial, etc.

4. If your child does start acting up, remove him from the situation. Get up and take him outside for some fresh air. Sometimes they just need to let it out.

5. Lastly, clean up your mess as much as possible. I know you’re not going to pick up every crumb from the floor, but at least tidy up as much as possible. Wait staff will appreciate it as well as other diners.

I think those are the main things to consider. And if you just go in with a clear mind and a good attitude, so will your children.

Now here’s a list of some family nights where you don't have to worry as much and can still get out. Check the restaurant website for details.

Axis Café - Monday
1201 8th Street
(between 16th St & Irwin St)
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 437-2947

Goat Hill Pizza - Monday
300 Connecticut Street
(between 18th St & 19th St)
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 641-1440

Chenery Park - Tuesday
683 Chenery St
(between Carrie St & Diamond St)
San Francisco, CA 94131

Squat and Gobble - Tuesday
3600 16th Street
(between Castro St & Market St)
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 552-2125

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