One recent evening the owner of Pazar Food Collective in Sydney, Atilla Yilmaz, looked up to find 12 iPads and iPhones lighting up the communal tables.
The entire restaurant sits just 65 people and according to Atilla most of the faces behind the myriad of devices … were kids.
“It was a sea of screens,” said Attila.
“Kids will be kids” doesn’t always fly
Moments before a family with young children had left the surface of their table completely covered in crayon.
“The parents didn’t even apologise. In fact, they laughed it off as they walked out saying “kids will be kids.”
But Atilla, a father of two children aged eight and six, was left far from amused.
Writing on his personal Facebook page, Attila said:
“Dear Customers. Thanks for letting your kids draw all over our tables and napkins and dining like civilised human beings. Truly appreciated. Leave your kids at home if they can’t sit at a dinner table without colouring books or an electronic device.
“Oh and no!! No !!! You can’t bring in Nandos from across the road because your kids don’t like what’s on our menu !! And no !! No!! We do not cater to your no salt, sugar, dairy, gluten, onion, garlic intolerant diet (all of these were one person’s dietary requirements) !! And no, no!!! Vegan is a choice, not a dietary requirement, and yes, we happily cater for that, easily. Dairy and Gluten are also not an issue and easily looked after with pleasure.
“I am about to introduce a no colouring book, toy and iPad ban to Pazar. Like my kids and many others that visit without such, it’s time for them to learn the art of dining, enjoying food, conversation and sharing. If you can’t handle it, get a sitter or go to the RSL club. I don’t know about you but when I dine out the last thing I want is some kid sitting at the table next to me with Dora the Explorer blaring away as I try to enjoy my meal illuminated by the glow of their electronic device.
“Stop being so fucking lazy and interact with your children, teach them social skills … please for the sake of future generations, engage with your kids or just stay home. #bantheipad #bancoloringbooks .”
Unsurprisingly Atilla’s post got lots of attention – particularly from parents shocked by his comments.
“They seem to be accusing me of being a bad guy or out of touch with parenting. But I have two kids and every time we go out, they say no to the colouring books,” says Attila.
“But it’s a regular occurrence to see families pile in here, head for a table in the corner and set the table up for the kids – iPads on and backpacks come out, colouring books arranged on the table. I’ve even seen a family arrive, put a blanket down on the floor underneath the table and feed their kids from a box of takeaway from Nandos!”
Read more about eating out with kids:
- Head down, bum up: The ultimate guide to eating out with toddlers
- Family dinners are more important than you think, here’s why
- Why banning children from restaurants is a good thing for parents
It’s important to teach our kids social skills
While Attila admits the tone of his Facebook post was a bit “aggressive”, if you take away the hard coating, his message is actually quite heartwarming.
“I’m not saying kids and families aren’t welcome at Pazar. I don’t want kids on blankets under the table looking at iPads. I want them out, sitting at the table learning how to enjoy food and make conversation.”
In a bid to stand by his words, Attila’s post has inspired a change of policy for Pazar Food Collective. And it applies to adults as much as kids.
Electronic devices are now banned from the restaurant, aside from “reasonable use” of a camera to capture personal memories, as long as it “doesn’t interfere with the dining experience of others”.
But it comes with an incentive. Attila says, “As a consolation, all kids five and under will dine for free any night of the week for all bookings made between 5.30pm and 6.00pm.”
Just leave your colouring books at home.