SINGAPORE — A restaurant that has a $10 “screaming children surcharge” in place said it has been effective in keeping such noise complaints by customers to a minimum.
In response to queries by Yahoo News Singapore, Angie's Oyster Bar & Grill said the penalty per child was implemented a "little over a month ago" after complaints of rowdy children running around unattended or disturbing other tables were "noticeably" increasing since May and June.
"Prior to the introduction of this policy, we were receiving comments or complaints from other customers on a weekly basis," said the restaurant at Outram Road.
With the penalty in place, it noted "an improvement and fewer complaints", with customers who are parents being more mindful and making a greater effort to ensure their children are not disturbing others while dining.
Parents and caretakers are informed during the reservations process about the penalty and "99 per cent" of them are very respectful and understanding, the restaurant said.
"We are happy to inform you that the vast majority of our guests understand the policy was introduced with good intentions and appreciate we're doing our best to make the dining experience enjoyable for everyone and not just a select few."
But the restaurant said it occasionally encounters challenging parents and caretakers who disagree with the policy before a visit.
"(We) see it as a forewarning and prepare for their arrival. We understand that we can't please everyone, but we can do our best to deter egocentric behaviours and encourage mutual respect between all our guests."
Removing all baby chairs
Meanwhile, the restaurant also addressed its "difficult" decision to remove baby chairs from the start of this year. The move was aimed at keeping spaces for movements inside its premises open and safe, it added.
The decision was reached following several management meetings to balance its customers' and employees' safety as well as seating arrangements for younger guests.
Customers with babies are informed of the policy beforehand so that they can make necessary adjustments.
"As with so many places in Singapore, space is very limited and there was simply insufficient room to store baby chairs without obstructing the walkways for customers and service staff," the restaurant said.
When social distancing measures in Singapore were in place, it was easier to manage spacing, and baby chairs could be arranged when requested.
"However, as measures were relaxed and group sizes got larger, baby chairs began obstructing the already limited circulation space, making it increasingly dangerous for customers and staff during service."
The restaurant said its top priority is to provide a comfortable dining atmosphere for all guests and such an approach is practical for everyone.
Netizen's dissatisfaction with policy
The restaurant's policy on imposing a surcharge for noisy children came to light after netizen Rrrr12349 left a one-star review of an August visit on travel website TripAdvisor three weeks ago.
The netizen, who claimed to have been to the restaurant several times, made a reservation indicating that a child would be coming along.
In the review, the netizen cited the restaurant as saying that its premises are not kids-friendly and that there would be a “screaming child surcharge” for any child who is “screaming or uncontrolled”.
The netizen claimed to know only of such a policy for the first time despite previous visits.
"While I understand that a screaming child would disturb other guests, I thought Angie’s could have taken a more polite approach. Am pretty put off by the reply. Guess we won’t be heading back," the netizen wrote.
In response to the review by the netizen which it addressed as "Ruth", the restaurant said that children running around are at risk when its staff are moving around with hot food and sharp cutlery. Such behaviour is also disrespectful to other diners who may wish to dine in a quiet and comfortable atmosphere, it added.
"In these instances, our team speaks with the parents or caretakers and they are almost always able to manage the situation. However, we occasionally experience situations where nothing is done and the matter is ignored altogether."
Given the awkward situation of having to explain to other customers who are affected by the children's behaviour, the restaurant informed "Ruth" that it had no choice but to impose a penalty.
"We ask for nothing more than mutual respect from all our guests, but we sadly experience a few diners who may feel more entitled than others. It pains us to impose the policy but it was never our intention to diminish any of our guests' experience," it added.
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