Arby's Location Posts Controversial Notice About Children

The issue of kids in restaurants is one of those "great divides" that separates parents from non-parents. On the one hand, the latter might reasonably wish to eat their meals in peace without being interrupted by crying babies or screaming toddlers, but on the other hand, kids have to eat too, and how are they ever going to learn any social skills if they don't get to, well, go out into society ever? In most cases, a reasonable compromise seems to designate high-end steakhouses and other fancy restaurants as adult territory (since who, after all, is going to drop $50 on filet mignon or lobster for a kid who won't eat it anyway?), whereas any childless patrons of Chuck E. Cheese's have only themselves to blame.

Fast food restaurants usually tend to fall on the more child-welcoming end of the spectrum since, for one thing, most patrons are usually there for a quick in-and-out experience, and not for a long, lingering, romantic dinner or a three-milkshake business lunch. With their low prices, kids' menus, and even toys and prizes for pint-sized patrons, fast food restaurants are typically the go-to spot for busy parents looking for a place to feed the whole family, but all this might have changed rather drastically if one Arby's franchise had its way.

Minnesota mom blows whistle on child-unfriendly Arby's

As mother of five Christine Hemsworth tells it, she visited her local Arby's restaurant in Elk River, Minnesota to take advantage of a special offer on a family meal, only to find a sign posted which made it pretty clear that at least one member of her family (the youngest) would not be welcome. The sign read: "Only well-behaved children who can keep their food on their trays and their bottoms on their seats are welcome. If you can't do this you will be asked to leave," and, as Ms. Hemsworth pointed out to Today Food, keeping fannies in chairs isn't something toddlers are really known for.

While a Facebook post about this news item by Minneapolis TV station KARE 11 did draw some comments supporting the restaurant's policy, with remarks such as, "I wish more places did this. Maybe parents will get the hint and discipline their kids," other comments pointed out the absurdity of this type of policy being enacted at a fast food restaurant: "Yep. When I want to have a pleasant and quiet sit down meal with my family, I immediately consider Arby's."

​Arby's made the franchisee take down the notice

Arby's corporate quickly came to the realization that, hello, family meal deals and a kid's menu kind of indicate that children, even wiggly, messy ones, are an important part of their clientele, whereas diners demanding a certain ambiance... not so much. They ordered the franchisee to remove its controversial notice, and issued an apology for the insensitive language used. Today Food, however, suggested that Arby's management should maybe step up their game and institute something along the lines of Chick-fil-A's "Mom's Valet" service, which allows moms to bring the kiddos straight to a table complete with high chairs and the food already in place. Now that would be a real demonstration of the "family-friendly environment" that Arby's claims to want to provide in all of its restaurants.