And The Story Goes

by Jodifur on March 31, 2011

Thanks you so much for your thoughtful, insightful comments.  I really enjoyed reading what each of you would do, in the situation

Now, just to be clear, Michael was with us, and we had fully intended on family, nice dinning.  My mom was with us too.

After about 30 minutes, some of which they actually turned the DVD up, I politely got up, found the manager and asked to be reseated.  I promise I was polite.  The manager informed me the restaurant was full for the evening and we could not be reseated.  He told me he would ask the family to turn the DVD player down.  Which he did, by saying something along the lines of, "I myself haven't heard it but these people over here" making it very clear the we, my family had complained.

The family next to us was less than happy.  They spent the next 30 minuets complaining, glaring at us, and loudly letting us known we had ruined their evening.  Towards the end of their meal the woman of the family picked up their toddler, looked at Michael, loudly proclaimed "SHE'S ALWAYS PERFECT" (I assume talking about their child) and stormed out of the restaurant.  The husband stayed for the next 30 minutes and glared at us and texted on his phone.

Our evening was less than lovely.

The manager came over and apologized to THEM and comped their meal.  Our bill was over $200.

The manager never come over to our table, or made any overtures to us whatsoever.  We asked to speak to him, expressed our displeasure, and he argued with us that he had handled everything correctly.  (Doug took Michael outside.  I do not argue in front of my child.)  While he never once agreed with us, he eventually comped our bill as well.  (Which trust me, was not my goal, I just kind of wanted some kind of agreement that maybe he could have come by and checked on us.)

No, I will not name the restaurant, because this is not about publicly calling someone out for me.  I just want to know how other people would handle the situation.  But if you get me drunk and ask me real nice I may tell you.

So, given that information, what do you think now?

{ 30 comments }

TwoBusy March 31, 2011 at 8:39 am

The manager is a jackass. Instead of handling things smoothly and professionally, he created a confrontational environment in which he ultimately had to comp two tables for their meals while simultaneously creating enough hard feelings that he’s guaranteed that he’s lost any possibility of future repeat business.
Moron.
(Sorry you found yourself in the middle of that. Aggravating on multiple levels.)

Mara March 31, 2011 at 9:09 am

I don’t know which is worse – the fact that it happened, or the fact that a similar thing happened to another friend of mine recently (kid out with just his mom – kid watched loud DVD while mom loudly talked on her phone for the entire meal). Why do people think that rules (and common courtesy) don’t apply to them?

Life of a Doctor's Wife March 31, 2011 at 9:19 am

Wow. It sounds like you handled it very politely and tactfully and the manager is the one who messed everything up. I’m glad you AND the other family got your meals comped – he was a jerk to you and probably ruined the dinner of the other family as well. He sounds like a liability to the restaurant he manages.

mary March 31, 2011 at 9:24 am

I’m not sure what I would have done in the first instance, some of my friends have kids on the spectrum and sometimes they do need a night out and the babysitter cancels or they can’t get one or whatever and they bring DVD players or other electronics to just get through so I might have complained and I might not have.
BUT the clear thing here is that the manager is an absolute idiot — he screwed up and managed to lose two sets of customers and whatever friends they tell about it.
And now I have to share my story of the most amazing electronic thing I’ve seen (It wasn’t intruding on anyone but . . .) I saw a mother walking her older baby in one of the most expensive strollers I’ve seen on a beautiful day with birds, flowers, etc. and the baby had an ipad and was paying with it while the mom talked on her cell.

Corey Feldman March 31, 2011 at 9:26 am

It sounds like the manager handled it poorly. If it were me, the moment the manager started arguing I would have politely stopped the conversation and asked him for an email or phone number for his boss or corporate office (if a chain).

Sue @ Laundry for Six March 31, 2011 at 9:36 am

Wow. I’m speechless.

Karen March 31, 2011 at 9:39 am

The manager was a jackwad, and you were perfectly within your rights to not be bombarded with DVD noise while trying to have a family dinner.
If their child can’t behave during a restaurant meal without constant visual stimulation, that is a parenting FAIL and they need to teach her how to behave without being constantly entertained. We have taken our kids out to eat often as young toddlers, and they’re allowed crayons, paper and books. That’s pretty much it. They quickly learn how to behave. We do use DVDs on long car trips, so I’m not anti-DVD-distraction, just not where it’s going to annoy other people. They couldn’t find headphones for the kid? Seriously?
The manager handled it very poorly. He basically passed the buck instead of establishing the level of courtesy that’s expected in his restaurant…I wouldn’t eat at a restaurant where that sort of thing was tolerated.
The parents handled it poorly. If it were brought to my attention that something my family was doing was irritating another diner, I would have been mortified and apologized to the other party.

Eileen Miller March 31, 2011 at 10:03 am

LOL!! Name your poison :)
But seriously, had he handled it like a professional, all parties need not have experienced such hostility. The other table needs to recognize that you are spending good money for a nice evening. If they want to have the DVD at their table, they should have invested in headphones or chosen a more appropriate venue such as a more child friendly environment.
This is coming from (me)a mother who had to use visual distraction for her child. We did not take our autistic daughter out for eating until we could do so without disrupting others (and yes, that was Jr. High until she was able to.) Headphones are such an easy fix to the situation.
It all comes down to being considerate of others.

JenEsq March 31, 2011 at 10:19 am

The point is not how the manager or the other family handled it (because I’m learning very quickly that you just can’t control other people or their reactions) but that you handled the situation very well and you can be proud of yourself. Sorry your dinner was lousy, though. I’m beginning to suspect that our family won’t be allowed to eat in a restaurant with real napkins for another 6 years.

Hope March 31, 2011 at 10:27 am

The manager handled that all kinds of wrong.
I would leave a bad review on yelp. I wouldn’t want to eat at a restaurant where the manager treats customers like that.

Lydia March 31, 2011 at 10:32 am

How awful!!! Please put a negative review on yelp so other people can avoid this place.

MLB March 31, 2011 at 11:03 am

I rarely comment, but I was in your corner in the original post. I think DVDs in restaurants are incredibly rude (I also feel this way about hand held video games), but I also recognize it’s none of my business unless it is loud and disruptive. And DVD players without earphones are disruptive and you definitely did the right thing by bringing the situation to the manager’s attention. He handled it very poorly and if it was a Disney restaurant (and I had time:) I would write a quick letter to the management summarizing the situation. I have 3 active rambunctious kids, ages 7, 4, and 3 and have zero sympathy or tolerance for the way that family behaved. Just my .02. :)

RockyCat March 31, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I’d go Medieval on that manager, starting with contacting his boss. And then I’d leave a negative review on every single review site I could find, along with posting on local forums about what happened.
I’m vengeful that way. You screw with me, it’s coming back down on you tenfold.
Oh, boy, did THIS hit a nerve …

UpNorth March 31, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Oh….my….gravy!
I can NOT believe that anyone who works in the services industry could have possibly handled the situation worse.
Because I am a be-yotch, AND because I’ve worked in enough restaurants to know how things SHOULD be handled, I would call the restaurant and ask to speak to the owner. If it is a franchise, I would write a note to the head office. Good lord, man! That manager single handedly lost the restaurant over (I’m guessing here) $300 in sales, plus two customers (because I know I would never, ever go back to that place).
With respect to how the other family handled things…. seriously?!?! Those people need to be smacked upside the head. I’m with Karen on this one: had it been me I would have been mortified, immediately turned the offending DVD player down, and then apologized. Jeez – when the hell did common sense leave the building?

Kristina March 31, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Hi, I’m new here and yesterday’s post and today’s are the first I’ve read. But I have to say, with 100% certainty the following things:
1) In my opinion, it doesn’t count as a “family” dinner if your kid is watching TV the whole time, especially not a volume loud enough to disturb others. These parents needed a reality check.
2) You had EVERY right to talk to the manager. If you wanted to watch TV at dinner, you could’ve gone to Applebees/Red Robin/a random sports bar
3) The manager is a jerk. He handled it really, really poorly.
4) You handled it with grace and class. A lot of people (myself perhaps included) would have really laid into the people or the manager.

Delora March 31, 2011 at 1:49 pm

I’m kind of amazed that the managed comped BOTH your checks so quickly. It must be something he does frequently.
You were completely in the right to talk to the manager. While I’m not 100% opposed to entertainment during dinner (books or video games would be more appropriate than a DVD though), headphones are a must (just like on airplanes, or any other situation where there are OTHER PEOPLE AROUND).

Jessie March 31, 2011 at 2:35 pm

I agree with the person who said that the only person you can control in this scenario is you and that you should be DANGED proud of how you handled it. ON top of keeping your cool after being thrown under the bus by the manager you then had the cahoonies to stand your up for yourself and point out to him his error but did so with the sound mind to have your child not present for the ordeal.
I applaud you and say Bravo Jodifur –now with the money you saved having the meal comped, try again at another restaurant and regain your evening.

tonya March 31, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Manager fail! Not only did he have to comp two dinners, but he likely lost repeat business.
Given the situation, I am 100% in your court. I do not understand why people feel so entitled to act the way they do. It’s a restaurant, not your house.

Jjiraffe March 31, 2011 at 5:42 pm

The manager made the wrong moves, for sure. Passive aggressive central.
And you are perfectly within your rights to document the experience on Yelp. You should be proud of how you handled the situation
I still am inclined to give families the benefit of the doubt. (Which you did.) There are some bad apples (like these parents) but in general I think most parents work hard to keep their kids well-behaved and under control in public places, and I know so many moms who are dealing with special needs, who also work really hard to keep their kids well-behaved in public.
Or maybe I’m just a Pollyanna.

Issa March 31, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Gah, that manager was a dick. Seriously. I think that everything you did, I’d of done too.
Also? I think half the world is crazy. I saw a woman yell at someone else’s kid last night. Because they accidentally broke a glass. Hey, it happens. But this woman yelled across her family at this other table and their kid. It was painful to watch.

Wife and Mommy March 31, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Definitely the manager was at fault by trying to remain the nice guy and pointing the blame back on you all. I think you handled it well (as well as you could, given the turn of events). I myself would probably have been a wuss and suffered in silence.

Susan @WhyMommy April 1, 2011 at 2:58 am

Wild!

Violet April 1, 2011 at 9:09 am

You were absolutely right. Confronting them directly could have turned ugly. The manager should have asked them to turn it down, or moved THEM to another table, away from other guests. If it was bothering you, it was likely bothering others. Just as people can be booted from a movie for loud talking or a baby crying, people can’t be distruptive in a restaurant. “we have the right to refuse service”, correct?
I don’t have an issue with electronics; my kids are small, and LOVE our iphones. They play games with sounds, but they either play them very, very low, or play other games without sound while we are in restaurants. Quiet voices, quiet games – they need to learn to be respectful of others, and the parents need to set an example!

Janna April 1, 2011 at 11:12 am

I will say this- we let the kids watch shows on my ipod touch if we are out at a restaurant and it’s taking a while (we try not to bust it out right away) because the alternative with a 3 year old is much louder, but we keep the volume very low or not at all.
I would not be offended if someone asked me to turn it down, though, or if a manager asked us to turn it down. I would be embarrassed, yes, but not pissed. We often get compliments on how well behaved the kids are, and that’s because we come prepared to keep them busy, so I don’t think we’ve bothered anyone…
That being said, that manager was a total asshat. That is not how you handle customers ever- and you never pick a side.

Headless Mom April 1, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Funny thing is that the manager probably thinks that he saved both sets of customers by comping the meals. Having worked in the restaurant business for several years, I would definitely document the night for the owner or GM. They should know why they had to comp $400 in meals that night. I’m guessing that manager has lots of comps for the same reason (Asshatery) and they would like, er NEED to know.
And another question… why would someone go to that expensive of a restaurant with little kids who require that level of entertainment anyway? Sounds like it’s more trouble than it’s worth to me. If your kids can behave, like Michael, then fine, but if you HAVE to have a DVD player then I’m thinking that your kid isn’t old enough to handle it yet.

Beth Fish April 1, 2011 at 8:49 pm

I think I pity that manager – I wouldn’t want to argue with you. Clearly the manager was clueless though.
I admit, on the rare occasions we take the kids to a restaurant, we go armed with iPhones and iPad and Leapster in case of emergency. But they are muted! And we still worry that they are annoying! And we break them out only if nothing else works! I cannot imagine taking a DVD player, I’d much, much rather just stay home.

baltimoregal April 4, 2011 at 10:58 am

“She’s always perfect!”
REALLY?
Also, yes, want to make sure that I don’t go to that place, and that I tell others not to go.

April April 8, 2011 at 4:07 pm

While it’s incredibly nice of you to not mention the restaurant, if they are a chain, you should definitely send a letter to the corporate office. If it’s not a chain, you should still let the restaurant know that you will not be back again, thanks to the way the manager handled the situation. You appreciate the comp, but unless they change their policy, you can’t see yourself actually enjoying a meal there ever again.

Stimey April 9, 2011 at 1:09 pm

I’m late to this, but damn! I would have been PISSED. You don’t walk into a restaurant with a boombox and put it on the table and play your own music. You don’t bring a TV to a restaurant and put it on the table and play your own DVD. Outrageous. And for the manager to be such a jerk? I’d be furious.

Amy April 11, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Sorry I’m late to the party — Just catching up on some older posts…I work in a restaurant in DC and have many things to say about this. Can you pretty please email me? I need to make sure this is not my restaurant. :)

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