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Alinea’s Grant Achatz Considers a Baby Ban, Sparks National Debate

Back in September, Nancy wrote about Battuto, a neighborhood Italian restaurant in North Dallas, taking to Facebook when a family of four had a fussy kid. Y’all left your (mostly) pleasant thoughts in the comments.

Today, one of the biggest restaurant stories circulating the web is also focused kids. Well, actually babies. On Saturday, a couple brought their 8-month-old to Alinea, a fine-dining establishment in Chicago with three Michelin stars. Three. Not exactly a neighborhood restaurant where dining next to a noisy kid is a little more understandable.

Achatz didn’t end up throwing out the parents and their baby, but he did complain to everyone on Twitter. Gawker posted a photo of owner and chef Grant Achatz’s annoyed tweet, in which he sorta half-rants, half-asks what he should do. Obviously, the chef was not a happy camper. (But he still had some humor left to tweet the parody account, @AlineaBaby, afterward. It now has 972 followers. Crazy.)

In the above video, Achatz tells Good Morning America, “We want people to come in and experience Alinea for what it is, but we also have to be cognizant of the other 80 people that came in to experience Alinea that night.”

What should Alinea do with screaming babies from now on? Maybe they should put it in their dress code. “No jeans, no cut-off booty shorts, and no babies. Ever.”

 

  • Peter Kurilecz

    according to a friend of mine in Chicago the couple had had the reservations for quite sometime. Something happened to the baby sitter forcing them to take the baby so as not to lose the reservations. My friends suggestion was that the chef should have comped the meal, given them to-go containers and then offered them a reservation for some future date

  • Greg Brown

    Why is the first response always to “comp” a patron for their own problems? Perhaps the couple could have called and informed the restaurant that they had lost their babysitter and were bringing the baby. Then perhaps the restaurant could have found a table more convenient for their needs. To just show up with a baby puts all of the responsibility on the restaurant to find a solution when the responsibility truly lies with the parents.

  • flycat

    I’ve been to Alinea and I love babies. It is most definitely not a restaurant for babies or young children. So my first response was to strongly support a no babies policy. But the fact is, you do not book reservations at Alinea, you purchase tickets. Expensive tickets. Far in advance. So like a sporting event or the theatre, you don’t make it, we’re very sorry and thank you for your $$$.
    Chef could not have packed up doggy bags. It’s not that kind of thing. This food will not transport nor hold up for enjoying later. The menu is an event where atmosphere, service and presentation are all key ingredients.
    A more accommodating reservation system may have been the better solution. After looking forward to this night, probably for many months, at $500/head, I too would have had a hard time just letting those tickets go.

  • flycat

    Correction, tickets are only $210-265/pp (depending on the night of the week) plus tax and service charge. The $500/head included wine pairings which are not charged until you dine, so the couple would not have lost out on that amount.

  • Kelly

    I’m sorry but it is not the responsibility of the establishment to comp your meal because your baby-sitter fell through. I have 2 small children, I understand it happens that baby sitters cancel, kids get sick – such is life. I have cancelled vacations and all sorts of events, that is part of being a parent. Call and see if they can accommodate a change of reservations, have a back up baby sitter, friends or family that are willing to watch your kids, or an hourly drop off child care. Not the restaurants problem!

  • Auntiecairo

    Why should the restaurant have to give them a free meal? Some restaurants aren’t for kids — if you have children – that’s just one of the sacrifices you make. I agree – they should have just gotten their food to go and left. It’s not the restaurant’s fault their child was crying – or they had no babysitter. Talk about entitlement — there are thousands of restaurants in Chicago and other big cities – many of whom are very family friendly.

  • Maria Whiteside Mejia

    I recently went to Alinea and a definitely it is not a place for a crying baby. Dinning there is an experience that should be enjoyed by all senses. I think it is not fair for the other customers paying a lot of money to dine there.

  • Brad Murano

    It’s more like $750/head, all in.

  • mrEmannE

    Speaking as a childless “other diner”, I would rather sit next to a drooling canine than a crying baby. But that’s just me.