Friday, October 19, 2012

First - The Frog & Turtle: A Review....kinda

I have been a mom now for 6 years, 5 months and 9 days. I will never forget the first time Kevin and I took Mairead to a restaurant. She was maybe a week or two old, and I had to nurse her in public. It was a horrendous experience, but I didn't let that experience haunt me forever and from that moment on, we continued to bring our child to restaurants, and still do, quite frequently, in fact.

We have always been that family who walks into restaurants confidently with our crew, attracting attention from all over, because there is high probability for big problems - you know, temper tantrums, spills, accidents, whatever - but, most often, we walk out feeling great about our experiences especially after other customers will comment on the behavior of our children, but things quite didn't go like that this evening....

I had made plans with my girlfriend, Kate and her family for tonight. We were heading to watch her husband sing in a barbershop quartet then head to dinner. We had both wanted to try a local restaurant in Westbrook called The Frog & Turtle. We had both heard many good things about it, so we thought we'd head over since we were close by. Kate is like us, she has raised her children going to restaurants since they were newborns.

Kevin and I walked in with our kids first. It was a rainy, windy night. People kind of looked at us a bit weird with our crew, but nothing out of the usual. I didn't get the most welcoming vibe either. We were early for our reservation for 11 people, and the hostess didn't seem accommodating at all at first. Kate walked in with her family and assured me the person she had spoken with on the phone while making the reservation was seeming very accommodating with our larger party, and our party consisting of 6 children, ages 8 and under. Within a few minutes, they had a table ready for us and we all sat down. They even had a baby highchair all ready for Callum at the table.

It took several minutes to get a menu and even longer to get our drinks ordered. The kids ordered chocolate milks and shirley temples. The adults ordered beers. When the drinks arrived for the children, they were in small plastic cocktail cups.....yes, without lids. Callum was getting a bit ansy, so I had to request bread. It took several minutes at least for the bread to come, and for a party of 11, the bread arrived to table with about 8 slices. Barely enough for the kids, and definitely not enough for the entire party. Callum ate the bread as did the other children. Then, the waitress returned and finally took our food orders. We ordered from the childrens menu for the kids - macaroni & cheese and chicken fingers. Perfect, I thought. Callum continued to get a bit more fussy, and I pulled a fruit leather from our diaper bag. He sat quietly for a while eating it....until it was gone. I saw him get more ansy, and tried to look for our waitress to get her to bring more bread to the table to get us through dinner. Well, before I was able to talk to our waitress, the head chef (or a chef) came over to my right side, in between Callum and I, and said there had been "quite a few complaints" about Callum and that I would either need to take him outside (in the cold, rain) or "tell him to get it together" - WHAT!!!! For one, he's 18 months old.

For the first time since being a mother, I was being asked to leave a restaurant because my 18 month old son fussed (if you even want to call it that - I think he was just voicing his opinion, but not even in a loud manner). My face started to boil, and I was embarrassed. Kate and her family supported us and offered to get up and leave. I got up, and walked outside. I was fuming mad. I tried to pull myself together, but I had to walk back in. As the rest of our party was following us, I walked back in to talk to the Chef who spoke with us. I told him if children were not welcome, they should not have high chairs. They should not have a children's menu. And they should not have coloring materials for the children. At that time, I had no idea that he had told Kate that the restaurant was not a place for children or else I am pretty sure I would have really been blowing up. The Chef asked me not to make a scene - and I didn't - and wasn't trying to. I was just upset because I felt as though we were being punished for something that we didn't deserve.

After I got the last word in, we all walked out. All 11 of us, and they lost our business. We walked across the street to Portland Pie for Pizza where we were welcomed with smiles. A nice couple offered to move seats so we could all sit together and our waiter was so very nice to all of us - including our children. He even brought Callum chips to get him to settle down. You see, all the waitress had to do was recognize Callum was getting ansy - offer more bread? Could she get him anything to settle down? Hey! What about take the children's food order first while she was getting the drink order? If there were people complaining about our child, then they should have offered things to help settle Callum, not belittle us, and force us to leave or take our child out in the rain! You see, if they don't want to attract families with children, then don't have highchairs available. And don't have childrens menus or crayons. Make it absolutely miserable for these parents to bring their kids, and believe me, we won't.

Too many parents are afraid of taking their children out to dinner for fear of this very thing happening. As a somewhat experienced mamma to small children, I can totally see how this experience can ruin you. Taking an 18 month old out to dinner isn't always fun. They are work. They don't want to sit in a highchair. They want to run around. BUT, how else are they going to learn to behave in a restaurant, out in public, if they are never brought up going out?


  1. Sorry this happened to you. I would also write the local paper about this experience. If children are not welcome everyone should know. #ignorant

  2. Since the Business isn't registered with the BBB try the Local Chamber of Commerce. Jennifer's Mom works at the one in Goodyear, AZ and they always welcome feedback.

  3. Who brings their 18 month out to a fine dining establishment such as this great local eatery on a Friday night past 7pm? For being such an expeirenced " mother shouldn't your 4 children be getting ready for bed at this hour? I just so happened to be dining at the frog and turtle the same night as your said crew came in. As a mother myself I understand about bringing a toddler to a restaurant but the way nothing was done about this SCREAMING Toddler throwing bread for well over 20 minutes was crazy. My child, even at 18 months would have been taken to the restroom or outside to be calmed down. When I am out paying good money for a nice night out it is the last thing I want to hear . Some of the patrons of this restaurant actually started clapping when this crew left. I'm happy to hear the pizza joint made you happy, that IS a place to bring 6 children. The only time you'd catch my kid in
    The Frog and Turtle would be for Sunday Brunch, hence why they probaly have the high chair.

  4. You must be friends with the owner, and you may want to get your facts straight. First off, if my son had bread, he would have been eating it, certainly NOT throwing it, but there was no bread at the table, except for the few pieces our party of 11 was given, and split the pieces between the 6 children. My son ate every piece. Maybe you are getting my son confused with another child?

    We bring our children out past 7pm to restaurants in Portland all the time, but you can judge all you want.

    But, you should get your facts straight. If you actually do have children, I am sorry.

  5. My facts are straight. I happen to be sitting directly behind your party as all the adults sat sipping beer as the child screamed, so I was direct witness to all this. I am not direct friends with this restaurant owner but I do frequent his place as we love the usual atmosphere. When you stated in your blog "instead of belittling us they should of helped us get our kid to calm down" makes me feel sorry for your kids. Do you really think complete strangers out paying this kind of money for a meal should stop what their doing and help you parent your kids? Are you insane? If you can't control your children, stop havin them. Maybe if you spent all the time you put into writing a blog into your children, they would act accordingly in public.

    1. You are a very poor excuse of a human being. How can you be so hateful towards someone you don't know? You must be an angry bitter person for words like that. You are unbelievably rude.
      I commend the mom for standing up for herself. And having kids out past 7, what is wrong with that? It's not late.
      I hope that you one day realize how inappropriate you were and apologize for what you said. Tisk, tisk, shame on you!!

  6. She wasn't suggesting the other patrons of this restaurant help her out, she was suggesting the restaurant waiter or owner do it (you moron). Reasonable request...I think it's called attending to your customer's needs. If you had kids you would know people do this everywhere you go. I know I won't be going to that restaurant!

  7. I happen to know Steph very well..and you could not find a more attentive mother. She wasn't asking them to take her kids and entertain them, she was simply asking that they supply enough food for the whole table. Who cares if they were having a beer? And who are you to judge what time she takes her kids out to dinner? At least she takes her kids with her when she is out to socialize...yours were obviously not with you. Did you bother reading her blog, aside from this post? You would see what kind of parents they are and eat your words. Quit defending the bad business and rude behavior from The Frog and Turtle. There is no excuse for what happened!

  8. I feel saddened more than anything for Steph and her family. Why such harsh judgement? We should be standing together as women and mothers instead of berating each other, casting judgements, and downplaying horrendous service. Words hurt, please be more careful and thoughtful.

    1. Thank you Sarah, you nailed my thoughts exactly.

  9. Oh please Anonymouse! Yes Anonymouse because you are just that. Afraid to post a name to go along with your reply.

    I've known Steph for years. She's an awesome mom and takes care of her children.

    If you aren't the owner of a close friend/family member than it saddens me that you are this bitter.

    I for one find it sad that ppl who are posting harsh/judgmental comments are skipping over the fact that it was a cold rainy night out that night. And that almost everyone was clapping when the party left.

    The owner should of asked what could be done to help. And as far as her child throwing bread I highly doubt that, you can read past blogs to find that out. Steph doesn't put up with her children misbehaving in public.

    As for you Anonymouse I hope your kid(s) don't grow-up as bitter as you.


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