An Italian restaurateur fed up with his customers’ lunches being interrupted by rowdy children has come up with a novel solution: a discount for well-behaved families.
Antonio Ferrari, who owns a wine bar in the northern city of Padua that caters to families on Sundays, came up with the idea when he spotted a party of 11 at one of his tables, including five children sitting “with much composure”.
Ferrari rewarded the group with a 5% sconto, and has since bestowed the same discount on two other families with well-mannered children.
Ferrari told the Guardian he estimated about 30% of parents did not know how to handle their children at lunchtime, and that too often children run around the restaurant and bother other customers, forcing his waiting staff to swerve to avoid them.
Long family lunches, sometimes stretching to three hours, are still an honoured culinary and social tradition in Italy, though less prevalent than they once were. Usually the meal involves an antipasto – bruschetta or platters of prosciutto are fairly typical – and then a pasta dish, followed by a meat dish and then vegetables.
Unlike the disciplined French children portrayed by Pamela Druckerman in her book Bringing up Bébé who sit quietly through restaurant meals as their parents engage in adult conversation, Italian families are stereotypically more rowdy, with loud behaviour often indulged by parents who see it as as a normal childhood phenomenon.
Ferrari – who does not have children – was at pains to point out that his intention was not to be too judgmental, telling Corriere della Sera: “I imagine how difficult parenting is today.”
Nevertheless, he thought something had to be done to rein-in children splashing water in the restaurant’s bathrooms and bothering other customers by running around tables.
He recalled some parents telling him his restaurant was essentially public, and that they could do what they want. But he added: “I’m responsible for what happens in it.”
The party who earned the coveted discount were delighted by the news and left a €30 (£25) tip, Ferrari said.
Source: The Guardian