By Alicia McAuley
Two mothers in the UK are outraged after an all-you-can-eat buffet in Croydon, England, charged them £3 (or around $5) because they’d brought newborn babies to the restaurant, according to a report by Yahoo! Canada. The incidents occurred on separate visits, but each time the story was the same: the mother in question explained that her baby was exclusively breastfed and would not be eating any food at the restaurant, or taking up an extra seat, yet restaurant staff refused to remove the charge from the bill.
Natasha Young, whose son was six weeks old at the time, told the London Evening Standard, “[The restaurant] was full but I had booked a table. When I got there they said I have to pay for the baby even though he does not eat. I was told he was taking up space.” The restaurant issued an official apology via its website, and noted that “The Minimum Charge Policy is intended for toddlers who eat but not as much as a child. It was and never will be intended as a charge for prams or for babies.”
The incident has obviously hit a nerve with parents who already feel unwelcome in restaurants and other spaces that aren’t always so “baby-friendly.” But Adriana Velez of The Stir offers a different point of view on the situation: “This is obviously not about space,” she says. “This is about the general inconvenience of wee ones.” Velez goes on to talk about the potential mess that babies can create, the strollers that other patrons trip over and the crying that can disrupt other diners—all points that have come up before in debates over whether or not babies should be “banned” from certain establishments. But should parents have to pay a special tax because restaurant staff and other patrons are “inconvenienced” by babies? What do you think?