Earls Restaurants Doesn't Want Kids And Doesn't Care If You Know It
A couple and their nine-month-old baby met some friends at Earls Restaurant in North Vancouver. They were fans of the fun atmosphere and food at the chain, and thought it would be a good place to rendezvous.
But when the group asked for a high chair, they were told that the restaurant did not stock them. When the mom took her baby to the washroom to change him -- surprise! No change table either.
Mich Elle then posted a thoughtful comment on the Earls Facebook page, expressing her dismay at the unfriendly family policy at the retaurant. She wrote:
I understand that Earls isn't a Kinder Cafe but people who enjoy your restaurant also have babies and we should be comfortable bringing them to your restaurants. I urge your management to consider providing these inexpensive conveniences for your customers. Thank you.
Earls's responded clarifying their family policy:
... although we at Earls love families, we would not classify ourselves as a family restaurant. Our restaurants do not, as a rule, offer highchairs & booster chairs or changing stations. I know this may not be the response you are looking for, but I hope you can understand that we have an obligation to our customers and our shareholders to make the best decision for each business.
And to make sure that we understand this policy is not one made up by the 20-something intern, they ended with:
All comments are read by our management team and by the President of Earls, Stan Fuller. Thank you again for taking the time to write to us.
And thank you Mr. Fuller for making sure that your stakeholders don't get to enjoy the money from many of the parents who jumped on this thread.
Thank you for your response. I understand that the restaurant business is a very competitive one. When I think of your competitors, I think of The Keg, The Boathouse, Cactus Club & Milestones. All of these restaurants cater to the same clientele as Earls. After I read your response, I phoned these restaurants to see if they provided high chairs or change tables. ALL of them do and in fact, the Boathouse (Port Moody) and Keg (Coquitlam) even go so far to provide a family washroom facility. I thought you should be aware of what your competition is up to as I will be sure to take my business there in the future. I will also be sure to let all of my parent friends be aware that your restaurant does not consider itself to be a family establishment.
Over 400 people have commented on the thread and another 400 have "Liked" it. The discussion has become the usual platforms for the "Leave your kids at home" and "Love my babies" crowd. But after the initial comment, Earls has been strangely silent through the whole debate on social media. (Though they have sent out a very similar letter to other parents' complaints before this incident.)
Earls is a national chain based in British Columbia and making a slow crawl across the country, including opening one in downtown Toronto. It is an upscale chain similar to Milestones, The Keg, Joey's and the Cactus Club; it is loud, fun and has large portions. It is not the kind of place you would generally take your three kids for a night out. But when you are in the "babies are still portable" phase -- why not?
The interesting thing about Earls is that the generation who made it popular is now the same group who is now having kids. They may want to return to the place they loved in their 20's, but the place doesn't want them anymore.
Obviously, restaurants do not have to have family-friendly policies (though they do risk some neighbourhood shunning). Parents can suck it up or go somewhere else. But restaurants also should understand that offering a high chair does not make it a McDonald's. Establishments that consider themselves too good to offer family-friendly policies shouldn't be surprised when those same parents with money to spend on a date night suddenly feel too good for those places.
Would you care if a restaurant didn't have a high chair for you? Do you think restaurants should offer family-friendly policies?
Want more chaos? Last year, I wrote about Beyonce and baby Blue.