Another terrible, entitled, selfish parent is giving the rest of us breeders a bad name.

Phillip Ryan faced the indignity of not being able to get a high chair at two different Earls restaurants and filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

The problem started when he visited an Earls restaurant in February 2015 and was told no high chairs were available. He left after the high chair refusal. Later, he visited a second Earls restaurant but stayed and ate with his child in his lap after he was told high chairs weren’t available. He is alleging discrimination by the establishment on the basis of family status.

What the actual eff, Phil?! I mean .. come on now.

Sure, I get you were trying to have a nice family dinner and wanted to skip the costs of a babysitter by bringing everyone with you. Earls is a great ‘fancy’ and casual place, and while not specifically a family restaurant (there’s no children’s menu either, btw), it’s a friendly enough place where kids are comfortable.

I’ve taken my boys out there often and it’s their favourite upscale place to dine.

Stop me if you’ve heard this story before because Phil’s issue is similar to a 2013 story when Michelle C Elle was disappointed to learn that Earl didn’t have high chairs for her 9 month old.  The hostess offered her a booster seat, but those don’t work for 9 month olds.

Michelle left, went home, and took to the restaurant’s Facebook page with her thoughts.

“I understand that Earls isn’t a Kinder Cafe but people who enjoy your restaurant also have babies and we should be comfortable bringing them to your restaurants. I urge your management to consider providing these inexpensive conveniences for your customers.”


That sparked a heated discussion on the company’s page, it then moved to Reddit, and now the rest of the internet is caught up in a debate over what kind of services restaurants should provide.

One commenter writes on the Facebook post: “When restaurants don’t provide those amenities they generally don’t want you to bring your baby to their restaurant. I would just choose to go to Earl’s when you have a sitter. As a momma of two young boys, I understand this fact. In fact like this. If I’m out with my adult friends at a non family restaurant the LAST thing I want is to be around other peoples kids.”

While another says: “Hey Earls, your holier than thou attitude isn’t winning you any new customers. Seriously, how difficult is it to have a one single high chair in the restaurant? Or a change table in the washroom? Mich, you seem to have started a thread that is touching a nerve with a lot of people.”


The company then chimed in with an official response.

“Our menus are very popular with young people, however our restaurants do not offer a children’s menu. Instead we find parents feel many of our appetizers are suitable.

We do not have a policy that prohibits highchairs. Simply put, requests for highchairs are rare. Where we see the need, some of our restaurants do have highchairs, approximately a quarter of our locations, and just over half our restaurants have booster chairs.”

Elle tells Global BC she is quite surprised by the reaction her Facebook post has received.

“My initial issue and where it’s at now are two totally different things,” she says. “When I put that on Facebook it was a customer service complaint. My point was simply ‘your direct competitor offers these amenities, and because you don’t we’ll simply take our business elsewhere.”

News flash, Michelle and Phil, that’s exactly what Earl’s wants you to do.


My take on this is very simple: kids change things.

It’s a concept many parents struggle to grasp, but it’s really a basic one to understand. Your life changes the moment you have children. Life is now different, people.

A few years back, my wife and I sat and talked about how our lives changed .. and whether or not it should have.

You can’t go to the same places you went to with your young kids that you did when you were a carefree single person. You shouldn’t go to late movies with young kids in tow. You shouldn’t go to upscale restaurants with infants. You shouldn’t go to parties at the Playboy mansion with newborns.

Some people don’t like having their style cramped, and that includes those without kids, or those of us smart enough to have found a sitter.

There are plenty of other family friendly restaurants out there. When I was in Reykajvik, The Laundromat Cafe, a rousing restaurant filled with young hipsters, boldly declared their love of families for all to see.

Laundromat Cafe

When we traveled across France on a road trip with Zacharie, we packed along a portable high chair we could clip to random tables. We came prepared.

Portable High Chair

Sometimes you just have to be willing to accept there are more appropriate places for you to spend your money, and family restaurant time.

What’s your take? Should restaurants be mandated to stock high chairs and change tables? Is it okay for a business to imply they’re not family friendly?

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