Where’s the line drawn?

Con­fronta­tion at restau­rant over mess left by in­fants leads to on­line re­bukes

Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall) - - NEWS - ALAN S. HALE ahale@post­media.com twit­ter.com/alan_S_hale

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.

ALAN S. HALE/Stan­dard-Freeholder

J&T was the site of a con­fronta­tion be­tween a fam­ily and the own­ers of the restau­rant.

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