US restaurant criticised for 'adults who are unable to parent' surcharge, other 'excessive' fees

Parenting can be a thankless task: no one gives you an award for quietening a temper-tantrum or wrangling a screaming child in the supermarket. Bystanders will throw side-eyes, audibly sigh or make pass-agg remarks: others, however, will slap you with a fine for 'bad parenting'.

While public wobblies can be frustrating for fellow patrons, a restaurant in the US state of Georgia is facing backlash for taking their 'management' of unruly children to the next level: enforcing a fee for families who are 'unable to parent' while dining at the venue.

Taking to Reddit's r/mildyinteresting forum, a recent diner at the Toccoa Riverside Restaurant shared a photo of the menu which advertised an "adult surcharge" for "adults unable to parent", uploading it under the caption: "This restaurant charges you extra for bad parenting."  

At the bottom of its drinks list, the menu noted that a gratuity of 20 percent may be added for parties over six, splitting the bill, or opting for the 'birthday menu'. Beneath that, it stated, "Adult surcharge: for adults unable to parent $$$" - without disclosing the cost of the charge in question.

"Be respectful to staff, property and self. No respect, no service. No store food permitted in dining area," the statement went on, adding there is also a fee of US$3 (NZ$5) for sharing meals. 

The menu also noted that while the restaurant offers a "discount" for customers who pay with cash, it charges a 3.5 percent "non-cash adjustment" fee for those who pay by credit card.  

The photo of the menu with the fees outlined
Photo credit: Reddit / r/mildlyinteresting

Unsurprisingly, the "adult surcharge" has not gone down well online, thrusting the establishment into the spotlight and prompting an onslaught of one-star reviews on its Google profile.

"I've never visited this establishment but the fact that they are attempting to charge families for the behaviour of children that could just be having a bad day is not a restaurant that I'm attending," reads a recent one-star review.

Others on Reddit have lambasted the venue for its "passive-aggressive" approach, while another declared: "If I read this at a restaurant I would probably leave. Charge for unruly kids and a 'share charge [of] $3' - like, who cares if I wanna share my food once I pay for it?"  

"The number of red flags on this menu, I'd just go ahead and say 'no thanks'," a further commented.

Mother stopping son eating pasta uncouthly in restaurant - stock photo
Diners who are "unable to parent" their children at the restaurant will be slapped with a surcharge, according to the restaurant's menu. Photo credit: Getty Images

However, some have applauded the restaurant's crackdown on unruly children, with one user praising the venue for "taking control" and enforcing etiquette expectations among its diners.

"I've never been to your restaurant however I'm giving you 5 stars solely because of your policy on unruly children... Parents who can't control their children need to stay home," a supporter of the policy weighed in, adding: "I promise you my children didn't act in any such manner and neither do my grandchildren."

"Fantastic place, great food. Love charging extra for parents that let their children run wild or throw rocks in the river when there are huge signs asking people not to," one frequent diner added.

Toccoa Riverside Restaurant
The Toccoa Riverside Restaurant in Blue Ridge, Georgia is set alongside a trout river. Photo credit: @toccoariversiderestaurant / Instagram

According to its reviews, the restaurant has been charging a 'bad parenting' fee for some time, with several former patrons detailing their experiences with the surcharge online. From the anecdotes, it appears the fee is a hefty US$50 - about NZ$86.

"The owner came out and told me he was adding US$50 to my bill because of my children's behaviour," one claimed, while another added: "Don't go if you have children.

"We were three adults, two children and our 4mo baby... later my wife was rocking the baby (not crying, just to make him sleep) and this 'manager' told her that you don't do that in a fancy restaurant (of course, this is not a fancy restaurant) and later moved our stroller in a bad way... do yourself a favour [and] go somewhere else."

"If you have children, absolutely avoid this place at all costs," a third wrote. "Holy moly - the most disrespectful owner made a huge scene in front of the entire restaurant because our children were 'running through the restaurant'... they have a [US]$50 surcharge for 'bad children'. We will never be back."

Talk about fine dining.