It seemed like a good idea to a German restaurateur: attract more family clientele who wouldn't disturb other patrons. But putting an idea into action can be a messy affair.
MUNICH — Luigi's was nearly full, and most of the tables were occupied by families with kids. Only one table right next to the bar was still unoccupied.
"Great," says dad, "right under the noses of the wait staff. We’ll never get the five-euro discount."
"Should we leave?" mom asks.
"I’m hungry!" their son whines.
"SHUSH!" his parents tell him in unison.
Hadn't they just gone to a lot of trouble to explain to the child that for the next hour he had to be on his very best behavior? That he should only speak when spoken to? Had they just asked him something? No!
"All because of the dumb money," the boy gripes. The waiters at the bar look up.
"SHUSH!" the parents say again as they get their son settled in his chair and send forced smiles back at the waiters.
They had recently read in the paper that Luigi had decided to adopt an idea hatched by a Japanese restaurant in Calgary — to give families with kids a five-euro discount. But there was a condition: It was only valid if the children were models of good behavior during the meal.
In the newspaper article, Luigi had confided that not only were his guests' kids sloppy eaters, but that they also tended to run around chasing each other in the restaurant.
Many parents ignored the unruly behavior, enjoying the chance to be alone together, although they had to raise their voices considerably to be heard above the din the kids were making. Others wolfed down the rest of their food — "all that good food, made with so much love," the article quotes Luigi as saying — so that the family could leave as soon as possible. Childless guests were also leaving, never to return.
"I only want well-behaved kids at Da Luigi, and I’m prepared to pay for that," the restaurateur said.
At first, the concept appeared to be working. Parents were conversing with one another in normal tones when they weren't busy hissing instructions at their progeny: Stop fidgeting! Be quiet! Sit down! Stop slurping! Who burped?
Please don't drug the kids
But there was problem at the third table from the entrance, where a man was saying loudly to his wife, "I told you one sleeping pill was enough!" as she lifted their daughter's tomato-sauce-smeared head out of her dish of spaghetti. In her induced sleep, the child was spitting little bits of noodle and tomato onto the white tablecloth.
"Add five euros to the bill at table three," Luigi instructed the waiter.
[rebelmouse-image 27088006 alt="""" original_size="2048x2048" expand=1]
Source: looseONtheGoose via reddit
Meanwhile, back at the table with the little boy, Dad gives mom a meaningful look. They order pizza, not pasta, for their son, and no drink. "But I’m thirsty," the boy whines.
"SHUSH!" again, and they pull his chair so close to the table that the boy claims he is choking. But his mother is having none of it, insisting he stay that way so that the pizza doesn't wind up underneath the table. Surreptitiously, the kid begins moving his chair from side to side, hoping to free some space up between him and the table edge.
But dad’s on to him, and tells him to sit quietly as he points to a little girl at a neighboring table. "Sit like her!" But what the father can't see is that the girl's parents have used one of Luigi's white cloth napkins to tie the girl to her chair.
At another table, a woman sits with a flyswatter. Whenever her child starts picking up food with his fingers instead of using a knife and fork, she swats him lightly on the hand. Luckily, she doesn't require both hands for this and is able to eat her pasta with her fork, all'italiana.
How it all goes to hell
Meanwhile, the little boy with the pizza isn't enjoying it much. "Don’t make such a face," his father tells him. "The five euros are as good as in the bag." The son just grumbles. A child at a nearby table gets a slap, and parents at all tables continue hissing instructions.
After 45 minutes of good behavior (and 346 rebukes), dad asks for the bill "with the discount, per favore!"
"No, Signore," Luigi says, shaking his head, "I can’t give you the discount."
"Why not? He was really quiet!" the parents say, pointing to their son — except that when they look over in his direction, they see an empty seat.
The boy is under the neighboring table, using a pizza knife to cut through the napkin restraining the little girl. The other kids have spotted this, and some of them leap up from their places. Noise levels in the dining room are getting louder and louder. Glasses are knocked over, table cloths ripped clear off some tables, and one father reaches for an empty bread basket to use as a shield when his daughter starts hurling pieces of bread at him. A boy rips his napkin from his neck, drops his spoon, leans down over his chocolate ice cream and just starts lapping it up.
The wait staff flee into the kitchen, and Luigi can be heard yelling, "It’s the end of civilization!"