Thursday, April 14, 2011

Liquor for Little Ones??

It's come to my attention that a couple of chain-restaurants have accidentally served alcohol to children.  It would be one thing if eight-year olds are bellying up to the bar to order a tequila sunrise with a phony ID.  I'm guessing that everyone would agree that the establishment would have to feel the hammer if they served booze to obviously under-aged patrons.

However, that's not the case in these situations.  No, that's not the case at all.  It's that the restaurant is putting liquor in kiddy cups and bringing it to the family's table.

I've read all kinds of parental outrage over the incidents.  My first impulse is to say that I can't blame them.  As a parent, I'd be pretty outraged if my son was served an appletini instead of apple juice.  As is frequently the case, it's not so simple as that.

I've read of parents who want to fire the employees, fine the restaurants, take away liquor licenses, close down the restaurants, lock up responsible parties, and so on.  That's where I draw the line on outrage. 

Food service is often a busy and hectic industry.  Servers, cooks, and bartenders hustle so that they can get sit-down patrons served in only a slightly longer time than it would take to go to a drive-thru.  Why?  Because that's what most diners appear to want - particularly diners with children!  What happens if they take too long to get our orders out to us?  We negatively impact their income by deducting from their tip!  So instead of 20 to 25%, they'll only get 15 to 18%.  Why?  Because we wanted our kid to get their cup of juice in less than two minutes rather than five. 

What happens when people rush through tasks?  Mistakes are inevitably made. 

What would happen if the authorities lay the hammer on these businesses?  People would most likely lose their jobs (and not necessarily those who made the mistake), the restaurant may lose business or close down altogether. . .leading to more people losing their jobs and their families will most definitely feel the impact.  I can understand that parents are upset that their child was served liquor, but negatively impacting their local economy and other local families isn't going to fix anything.  It's not going to turn back time and make sure that their little one was served juice.  It's not going to do anything positive at all and, unless money is the motivator (and it probably is), I don't get why they'd be raising such a stink that it's in the news in the first place.

Think about it. . .do you think a child chug-a-lugged a sippy cup of booze?  Probably not.  I'm guessing they took a sip, complained about the funny taste, and the error was discovered.  Yes, I'd be plenty angry if it were my kid, but the damage was minimal - if there was any at all.  How hard is it to point out the mistake and reorder some juice for the kid?  Why is it necessary to go bonkers and take it to the media?  Again, I'm fairly certain that money is the motivator since these are chain restaurants with what I'll assume are reasonably deep pockets to pay off patrons who persist in acting all butthurt over an accident.

On to the more pressing issue here. . .why do restaurants never accidentally serve me liquor??

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