Attila Yilmaz, the owner of the Pazar Food Collective, a Turkish-Mexican fusion restaurant in Sydney’s Canterbury, wants parents to “engage with their children” when they’re dining at his establishment, and for families to be “involved with the food and experience”.
Well, that’s his explanation for why he’s decided to ban the use of not only electronic devices from his establishment, but also colouring books, board games and building blocks.
“Please engage with your children and each other. Life is Short,” the restaurateur began in a lengthy Facebook post on Wednesday, which further cited concerns about mess, noise and the comfort of other diners as the reason for his strict approach.
Sure, they all might be perfectly legitimate points… but the problem is, he’s served them on a massive platter of parental judgement.
The post is not about his restaurant – it’s about what he think parents should do and how they should parent. And that’s why it’s left me with a strange taste in my mouth.
Yilmaz wrote, “If you aren’t coming to PAZAR as a collective to enjoy the food and interact, engage, converse, laugh, cry, debate and experience then please, please go elsewhere or stay home.”
Whoa. Talk about a meal with a large side of sanctimony. I’d much prefer fries with that.
Of course, Australia is a free country, and this restaurant can, within the law, dictate their terms of entry.
The owner obviously feels quite passionately about what his establishment can offer… and has a particular clientele in mind. That’s cool.
But it undeniably feels very judgemental – because it absolutely is.
As a mum of an 11-year-old who frequents restaurants on a regular/too often basis, I know there’s already enough pressure on parents to appear to the public as though they’re engaging with their beloved offspring in a constructive and healthy way… when all they really want to do is have a little chat and then a meal in peace, however that’s achieved – with books, or iPads, or whatever activity.
And has the owner thought of the families who have kids with needs which rely on activities to help them feel safe and calm during meal times (and yes, I am speaking from experience as my best friend’s daughter is one of those kids)? No, probably not.
The restaurant’s colouring book ban especially is problematic for me, because my son and I have always used restaurants to do one book-based activity in particular.
LISTEN: Zoe Marshall shares her advice for dealing with strangers on Mamamia’s podcast for new parents, The Baby Bubble.
A couple of nights a week, I collect my kid from after-care and we swing by our favourite sushi joint or grab a steak somewhere. My son always brings some of his homework with him to the table. It might be reading to me, or the spelling list he has to write out, or showing me what’s happening on Google Classroom on his device – all while we’re waiting for our food. We constructively use that time.