It all started simply enough: a new restaurant in the south end of Ottawa, Taylor’s Wine and Food Bar, was welcoming a patron who was investigating the restaurant in advance of a birthday dinner for her sister. Then, Trieste Rathwell mentioned that the table of five would need a sixth seat for her three-month-old nephew in his car seat. That’s when Sylvia Taylor, co-owner of the restaurant, told her that small children were not welcome in the restaurant, prompting a brouhaha that has spilled out into Ottawa’s newspapers and radio waves.
On one side, you’ve got parents of young children who don’t want to be excluded from public places—and they’re willing to do things like file complaints with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, as Rathwell’s sister has. On the other side—represented here by radio host and Ottawa’s crankiest old man Lowell Green—you’ve got people without children who think that the restaurant has a right to maintain its own atmosphere, including controlling the age of people in a liquor-serving establishment.
The anti-kid forces seem to have focused specifically on the unwillingness of parents to hire babysitters for nights out, which may be fair in some cases but seems a bit much for new parents of a three-month-old. That said, by the time a kid is six and screaming about not wanting his peas to touch his chicken, they might have a point.
Of course, this debate could never happen here in Toronto. Oh, wait.
• Foodies chew over Ottawa restaurant’s baby ban [National Post] • Baby causes birthday brouhaha [Ottawa Citizen] • Many adults like child-unfriendly restaurant policy [National Post] • Baby Wars [Toronto Life]