Where’s the line drawn?
Confrontation at restaurant over mess left by infants leads to online rebukes
When people go out for dinner at a restaurant, are they paying for the food and for staff members to clean up their mess, regardless of how bad it is?
Or is there an obligation to respect the space and treat it even better than one might treat their own home?
As you answer those two questions, how much leeway would you give when young children are involved?
There are no hard-and-fast answers to these questions. But a heated clash over them led to a confrontation at a Cornwall restaurant last week and a patron posting his thoughts online and reaching out to the media for coverage.
Bradford Lauzon, his wife and two 15-month-old children went out for dinner at J&T Japanese and Thai Restaurant in Cornwall. Everything from the family’ s perspective seemed fine until the cheque arrived with an unexplained 15 per cent service fee added on top of the price of their meal.
Assuming the restaurant had pre-emptively added a 15 per cent tip, Lauzon they asked about it and were told they were being charged extra because of the mess their children had made. Lauzon readily acknowledged the toddlers had made a mess on the floor with rice and some chicken, but also said his wife – who works in the restaurant business – had tried to clean some of it up.
“I was like, ‘whoa, whoa— are you charging us a cleaning fee?’ He said ‘yes! We spent all day cleaning the last time you were here.’ And we hadn’t been in for like four or five months before that,” said Lauzon. “Yes, there was a mess— but that’s why we tip.”
The couple that owns the restaurant did not want to provide their names to the Standard-Freeholder, but they did say they had recognized the Lauzons even after several months because their children had made a large mess that took hours to pick up. The couple said they were particularly sore about the last mess because a highly valued waitress who had worked at the restaurant for years decided to leave her position soon after, and the couple alleged Lauzon’s mess had been given as a contributing factor in her decision.
The owners told the Lauzons they should have been feeding their children directly instead of allowing them to eat on their own and throw rice over a large section of the dining room. Bradford countered his children are at the age where they are just learning to eat on their own.
The argument degraded into yelling, and both sides have conflicting accounts on whether or not any physical gestures and threats were made. Either way, the police were called.
The Lauzons paid their bill including the service fee, left the restaurant and headed to their car parked outside. The male owner of the restaurant followed them out, which Lauzon took to be a threatening gesture.
“We were walking across the street, and he continues to follow us yelling and screaming,” said Lauzon. “I told him that he is threatening my family, but he just continued … my two children were scared, and there was no need for him to follow us.”
The owner said he had simply followed them out to get their licence plate number to give to the police when they arrived.
Police spoke to all the adults involved, but no charges were laid. The police report of the incident labelled it as a “misunderstanding ” that got out of hand, said CCPS Const. Dan Cloutier.
The owners said they do not feel the need to rebut anything Lauzon says online, but have asked his family not to come back.
J&T was the site of a confrontation between a family and the owners of the restaurant.