Restaurant Patrons Get Discount for Good Kid Behavior

Discussion
Feb 15, 2013
Tom Ryan

It works for jail time and for car insurance, but at least one restaurant is also providing a break for good behavior from kids.

Sogno di Vino, an Italian restaurant in Poulsbo, WA, has gained overnight internet fame for providing a $4.00 discount to a family because their three kids were well-behaved. The restaurant, in a resort town and one of the main suburbs of Seattle, was so impressed at the children’s table manners that they thanked the kids — ages 2, 3 and 8 — with a bowl of ice cream.

The incident only went viral after a friend of the mother posted the $4.00 "well-behaved kids" discount shown on her receipt to cover the free dessert on the social news website, Reddit.

Owner Rob Scott told examiner.com that this is the first time a discount was offered on the bill, but he said the restaurant frequently gives free dessert to children who are well-behaved. Servers have the discretion to offer a discount to customers. Mr. Scott told the Associated Press, "It was just an act of kindness."

While recognizing the challenges parents face bringing their kids to a restaurant, Mr. Scott said an unruly child can ruin the dining experience for other patrons, some of whom hire babysitters for their night out. Servers often face irate parents when they’re told their kids are upsetting other patrons.

"Sogno di Vino means ‘to dream of wine’ (in Italian), it doesn’t mean Chuck E. Cheese," said Mr. Scott.

The Today.com article noted that McDain’s Restaurant in Monroeville, PA banned children six and under in 2011 because parents weren’t controlling their kids. A casual restaurant in Atlanta, Ga. earlier this year also earned internet fame when it wrote a disclaimer on its menu urging parents to take their crying babies outside.

Restaurants and stores have long carried serious and semi-serious signs to send messages around kids’ behavior, including "We love children, especially when they are tucked in chairs and well behaved," "Kids must use indoor voices," and "Unruly kids will be sold as slaves."

Should restaurants or retailers provide discounts/rewards to families with well-behaved children? How should such establishments deal with unruly children and their parents?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

16 Comments on "Restaurant Patrons Get Discount for Good Kid Behavior"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Steve Montgomery
Guest
6 years 8 months ago

Are restaurants giving discounts to well behaved children because unruly children are the norm? No, they do it because it is good business! Could Sogno di Vino have known that this would go viral and end up on various newscasts, etc? Perhaps they did in this day of over sharing everything, but even if they didn’t, you can be assured that they knew the parents would tell their friends, and their friends other friends.

The result was going to be gaining good brand awareness and likely new business. All that plus when their friends came, it works as a good teaching moment for their friends’ children.

The cynics will say that you shouldn’t have to reward a child’s good behavior, but I would rather reward for good than punish for bad.

Max Goldberg
Guest
6 years 8 months ago

If it works, why not? Parents should take responsibility for the behavior of the children. If this provides an incentive, good. It makes the dining experience better for all.

David Biernbaum
Guest
6 years 8 months ago

Good intentions but a terrible idea. Why? Because if you don’t give my family a discount for “my” children’s “good” behavior, I might come to the conclusion that you don’t like “my” children. And besides, who are you to be the judge of my children’s behavior? No, don’t go down this path. Stay out of the judge and jury business because in the end, you will regret it.

Debbie Hauss
Guest
6 years 8 months ago

I think positive reinforcement is a good thing. There could be a lot of potential for establishments such as restaurants to build on customer loyalty with this type of rewards program. Using social media to spread the word will help build the momentum.

On the other side, unruly children in restaurants are always going to be an issue. I suppose, if it’s a private establishment, the owners are within their rights to ask any unruly guests to leave. Unfortunately, though, if it is a family-oriented establishment and they kick children out, then they run a great risk of alienating a community of customers (and beyond with the power of social media).

Family-oriented restaurants need to think about how to work with families and keep children distracted so they don’t cause problems.

David Livingston
Guest
6 years 8 months ago

This was an independent restaurant owner acting out in a way that he felt compelled. I’m not so sure discounts should be offered as a rule because there could be a difference of opinion between the parents and management on how well the kids are behaved. However, if it is an independent restaurant, the owner should have a right to discount meals to anyone they choose. I’ve seen owners tear up tickets for people who could not afford to pay.

Now as for unruly children, management should have a right to refuse service to anyone who is making it uncomfortable for staff and patrons. Throwing unruly children out is no different than throwing out a drunk.

Ben Ball
Guest
6 years 8 months ago

It is always great to see businesses who understand great service. But the answer to this question is categorically “no.”

Good behavior should be the expected norm. If a business chooses to reward it, fine. But it should be the unexpected exception. Not the rule. The rule should be that parents who won’t control their children in an establishment are asked to leave. (Yes, I am a parent of three. And they have dined out with their parents from birth.)

Paul R. Schottmiller
Guest
Paul R. Schottmiller
6 years 8 months ago

I think as a gesture it was nice and got them some great PR. However, institutionalizing this would be a nightmare. Along with many of today’s children having issues with behaving appropriately, you have parents that are “nuts” about anything that has to do with an evaluation/judgement of their children (everyone that knows a teacher is now nodding as they read this). Wait till the first lawsuit is filed over not getting a dessert with $100M in emotional distress damages.

Assuming you don’t want to outright ban children, this is one that needs to be won in the trenches with diplomacy and skilled staff vs. some blanket policy/mandate.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
6 years 8 months ago

I am impressed with the steps this restaurant chose to take. But I have concerns about future expectations when the family might return, might get a different server and might not get the discount. Same concerns when a different family goes to the restaurant knowing of the discount and do not receive it.

Having said this, why would we take our young children to an upscale or mid-priced restaurant and expect to get a discount? Manners are to be rewarded. They are also expected. Rewards do not equate to discounts.

Roger Saunders
Guest
6 years 8 months ago

When families dine out, be it QSR or a more Full Service establishment, children are often a deciding factor in choosing the restaurant, and the frequency of return.

If restaurants, or other retailers, have the children in their marketing funnel, then it behooves them have their Operations and Marketing teams attuned to them. The consumer will notice the recognition, and welcome the opportunity to serve the family.

The November BIGinsight Monthly Consumer Survey offers some Insights as to how different restaurant chains are performing in the Consumers’ minds as to whether they are “Kid Friendly.” When asked for Reasons that 8,500+ Adults ate a particular restaurant MOST often, the following percent of respondents said the chose the restaurant because they were “Kid Friendly” — McDonald’s (14.1%), Burger King (9.3%), Wendy’s (8.7%), Taco Bell (4.0%), KFC (7.0%), Applebees (14.0%), Red Robin (25.6%), Olive Garden (12.9%), Cheesecake Factory (7.4%).

Marketers have to first determine who their target audience and influencers of their target audience are. They can’t be all things to all people.

Mark Burr
Guest
6 years 8 months ago
It is likely from my own experiences where expectations were set, reinforced, and consequences were known, that in our family those remained for my child. Seemingly today, there are no expectations. In my years at that age, there certainly were. In fact, they were supported by fellow parents. Ben is right; good behavior should be the expected norm. In our family, both in my years as a child and as a parent, eating out was the reward. It was a treat. It brought the family close. It was great entertainment. Whether it is an unruly parent or a child, they should be expected to leave. I can tell you from my own experience, the mention of being taken out to the car was enough said. We’ve dined out since our child was very young. The expectations were known. It was also taught that it was ‘special’ and that it was an ‘event’. It was defined as that from the point of planning, grooming, dress, and behavior. It was not uncommon for a server to recognize… Read more »
Zel Bianco
Guest
6 years 8 months ago

I like children. I have two of them. But I must admit they do get more dinner invitations from me now that they’re adults. Crying babies in a restaurant where I’m supposed to be ‘dreaming of wine,’ sounds like a nightmare.

I commend Sogno di Vino for praising good behavior. As restaurants struggle with retaining customers and repeat visits, providing discounts or rewards for families to bring their children is genius. The overall ticket would be higher than if parents left children home, not to mention the residual benefits for kids learning how to behave in public.

Where I can see restaurants running into problems is with parents. “Why didn’t we get the credit? Little Johnny was on his best behavior and he can’t help that he accidentally knocked over the servers’ plate of food.” I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell someone their kid’s behavior isn’t up to par with our rewards program. Implementing something universal is a tough call….

Jonathan Marek
Guest
6 years 8 months ago

My kids would do absolutely anything for ice cream. I don’t think you even need the discount, just the sugary incentive. And if the decision around the quality of their behavior comes from the restaurant not from the parents, then the kids won’t be able to lobby the parents for a favorable outcome. So in short, I love it!

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
6 years 8 months ago

How has the US become such an over-sensitive society? If the problem in a restaurant is unruly kids, an intoxicated adult or a pocket poodle walking on a table, the management should respectfully request the behavior cease or the patron will be asked to leave. This is common courtesy in a civilized society. I don’t see this problem much anywhere outside the US, at least in my experience.

I don’t believe incentives should be offered to remain civilized. That is an expectation that should be assumed by all.

Vahe Katros
Guest
Vahe Katros
6 years 8 months ago

An Italian restaurant called ‘To Dream of Wine’—they’ve got to have an unruly parent night! Please RW, post this tune from Louis Prima as a Friday gesture to a regular poster.

Tom Redd
Guest
6 years 8 months ago

STUPID IDEA! The family science experts—who I work with at the University of Arizona—would agree. Parents need to establish responsibility across their whole family and if responsible behavior cannot be exhibited in public areas then they should stay home. If they or they and their kids are a problem at a store or food place they should leave.

It’s called “BE RESPONSIBLE” and do not let children be your excuse for their lack of responsible parenting. This problem extends as the kids grow. It impacts how young adults live, spend, waste, etc. or how they excel.

Get Responsible or get out. Dr. Redd…Dr. Phil is my uncle.

Mike Osorio
Guest
Mike Osorio
6 years 8 months ago

This is ridiculously overblown. What this restaurant does is empower their staff to offer ‘kindnesses’ to thier customers. In this case the server noticed and appreciated the children and recognized them with a discount and ice cream. No more complicated than that.

This appears to be a nicer restaurant, not as the owner states,” a Chuck-E Cheese. It is not a statement to family restaurants or retailers to incentivise behavior. It is a statement to all service providers to empower staff to appreciate clients at their discretion with small acts of kindness. Now that is a message worth discussing.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

What effect will putting restrictions on the behavior of kids have on the sales of restaurants or retailers who cater to families?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...