Upmarket restaurant releases behavioural guidelines for child diners

Tasty grub isn’t the only thing on the menu of popular restaurant Prego.

A fine Italian restaurant in New Zealand has been praised after publishing a number of strict behavioural guidelines for child diners.

Prego, in Auckland, were inspired to come up with the rules after a number diners had complained about disruptive behaviour from children during their visit.

“For safety reasons, children are required to remain in their seat and exhibit appropriate restaurant behaviour,” the restaurant management wrote on the bottom of the extensive children’s menu.

Activities considered “not appropriate” include running, rolling around on the ground, jumping on furniture and playing in bathrooms.

Screaming, hitting and throwing are also on the no-no list.

“It’s off-putting in a business meeting if you’ve got kids throwing things and running around, and that was happening,” said Prego general manager and part-owner Brandon Lela’ulu.

A restaurant review that noted “children rolling around on the floor” was also a turning point. “I thought ‘wow, that’s crisis point for me’.”

However, the biggest factor was safety, Lela’ulu said. “We’ve got hot food, hot knives and the restaurant floor on a busy night has 15 staff working on it. Staff were concerned.”

The restaurant prided itself on welcoming all customers, including children, but it was just as important everyone had a good experience.

“We want to make it a place where everyone feels welcome. It might come across as harsh, but it’s for everyone’s benefit.”

The restaurant should be a place where parents can educate their children on how to dine, and they wanted to support that, he said.

“When we created a kids’ menu eight to 10 years ago, we wanted families to have a place that wasn’t the equivalent of Cobb & Co. We want to nurture future Prego diners and that means sitting in your chair and ordering your own food. It’s a treat to go out to dinner and it needs to be seen as that.”

“Families should know that here they will get the best service. They will never be treated badly and have us thinking ‘oh God, here comes a family’.”

Restaurant Association of New Zealand chief executive Marisa Bidois applauded the move, because it ensured a safer restaurant and because it helped kids learn how to be good diners.

She had seen waitressing staff, and the food they were carrying, toppled by collisions with children.

“The outcomes are never pleasant. It’s much better to manage the risk beforehand.”