Should Business Owners Be More Proactive With Disruptive Guests (Restaurants, Bars, Airlines, Retail Shops, Etc.)? For Example The Owner of Marcy’s Diner Recently Asked A Couple To Leave…

Myrtle Beach, SC, Orlando, FL July 31, 2015

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-Business owners should be more proactive with disruptive customers, guests or patrons whether it be in hotels, restaurants, airliners, retail shops or other public places.  Without constraints, disruptive individuals will take advantage of a situation that angers or frustrates them and create havoc over a perceived offense.  In order to protect their business reputation and policies, as well as their customers, guests and patrons, businesses must set ground rules for “disruptively challenged” individuals.

Unfortunately, the PC (politically correct) attitude that has permeated our society, and has dominated company and business practices for years, has been tolerated far too long, and this practice has allowed individuals to push the limits behaviorally.  Disruptive individuals have been given license to get away with outlandish behaviors and have endangered themselves and others through their actions.  Businesses have been forced to go the way of constraining and adopting security precautions that years ago were not even contemplated. There are cut off points and consequences for disruptive behaviors, and dealing with angry, self-centered, self-entitled, irresponsible and dysfunctional individuals are challenges that businesses now face.

Simple rules of conduct need to be posted and customers made consciously aware that inappropriate behaviors are totally unacceptable,  whether they be screaming, yelling, crying, arguing, threatening others, damaging property, dressing inappropriately  (“no shoes, no shirts, no service”), smoking, drinking, or any other behaviors that border on being dangerous and criminal.  For example, say the owner of a business, Marcy’s Diner, asked a couple to leave the diner because their child would not stop crying.  Obviously, if the crying could not be stopped or controlled within a reasonable period of time, the owner has every right to ask the couple to leave. The disruptive nature of such a situation to the business and others in the restaurant would require that.  In order for the restaurant to cover itself legally, follow up with the family should probably occur simply to establish that no harm happened within the diner to the child, as well as to simply avoid lawsuits and other legal ramifications.  Customers and patrons must make themselves aware of security issues and the protocol of a business before entering the premises.

Individuals will continue to push the limits and exhibit unacceptable behaviors in public places as long as they are not questioned.  The incapability of such individuals to control themselves must be confronted.  Civil society simply cannot function with these types of individuals being allowed to go unfettered and unchallenged. The consequences for such irrational behavioral choices must be enforced in a proactive, positive and productive manner for the protection of businesses and their customers.

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-It’s very easy to put the onus of this question on the business owner. It’s a great case of what I call “Someone should …” syndrome. Someone should fix the Middle East. Someone should make video games less violent. Someone should make parents with unruly children take them out of restaurants/movie theaters/etc.

The simple fact is that the responsibility for this sort of decision lies ultimately with the parents, who should fulfill their portion of the social contract by ensuring that their misbehaving spawn are removed from polite society until such time as they can comport themselves like little ladies and gentlemen.

The child in the Marcy’s Diner story was quite likely too young for verbal discipline, being somewhere in the vicinity of 2 years old. Kids that age aren’t interested in being reasoned with, and trying to do so is one of the greatest follies of young parents.  The mother, as seen in interviews, is the sort of “positive parenting” helicopter mom who will no doubt have little Muffy enrolled in soccer leagues where everyone gets a trophy as soon as she’s old enough.  Her defense of her own lack of parenting savvy was weak, and we never even heard from the father…who presumably has been staring down the barrel of a 12-pack since the whole sorry mess took place.

Yes, it would be lovely if more restaurant owners and the like would do as the Marcy’s Diner owner did and tell parents of disruptive kids to take Junior outside until he stops trying to stab other diners with a fork, but in today’s overly litigious, social media-saturated world, such bold actions are a slippery slope.  All it takes is a few parents, who likely feel guilty about their own lack of action when their kids destroyed a movie screening or concert, seeking to assuage their consciences by defending the parents on Facebook or Twitter to start a dogpile of hatred and bad Yelp! reviews.

Work on the parenting and let the chef do the cooking.

Asheville, NC Correspondent-Restaurant owners, particularly those who operate independent, local establishments and franchises, are in a very difficult position. Their financial well-being, and, indeed, their continued existence, are entirely dependent on providing a pleasant dining experience to their customers. Yet, many of the factors that contribute to such an experience are beyond the control of restaurant owners. A couple engaging in a public display of affection, a screaming child, or a patron with poor personal hygiene can all have a negative impact on the ability of others to have a good time. Owners and general managers have to balance the damage done to their reputation by such a customer against the potential PR nightmare involved in ejecting someone from their places of business.

In general, owners should make the decision that fits the needs of their particular niche. The proprietors of child-focused restaurants like Chuck-E-Cheese would take a much more negative view of a couple having a fight where even mild profanity was used, but need to be tolerant of children being noisy or disruptive. The owners of quiet cafes and adult-oriented venues should be more tolerant of cell phone conversations or mildly intoxicated patrons, but may wish to remove loud or wild behavior by children. As patrons, so long as the behavioral expectations are clearly defined, we should allow managers wide latitude in enforcing them.

It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to have a good time at every restaurant. What’s important is that there is space for everyone at some restaurant. There should be space for couples with young children, as well as places for adults who are seeking peace and quiet with their meals. It’s not the job of one establishment to provide both of those spaces, but rather the local economy to provide sufficient options to cater to everyone’s preferences. Where those preferences are unmet, local entrepreneurs should see the opportunity to create successful businesses.

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