Columnist protests against ageism in restaurants, wants changes

Addie Conway
Opinion Columnist

My friends and I recently went to a casual downtown restaurant. The staff seated us after 15 minutes of waiting by an open table, didn’t take our drink orders until 20 minutes later and didn’t serve us until 45 minutes after being seated.

Teenagers have a reputation for giving terrible tips, being disrespectful and scaring off the older patrons who pay better. Teens don’t have to pay rent or insurance so they have money to spend on food or entertainment.

Since teens have money to spend, where’s the business sense in discouraging teens? I’m not spending my money in places that treat me rudely.

ther. When groups of teenagers go to nicer restaurant, it is typically to celebrate for example, a date, an athletic victory or a birthday; they know how to be polite, well-mannered and reasonable in nicer restaurants.

It seems that the only place teenagers are welcome or even tolerated, are fast food restaurants. The irony of this is how the current mindset is to try to keep teenagers away from fast food because it can lead to health problems over time. It’s confusing because they are told it is unhealthy to eat fast food but then when teenagers try to go to nicer restaurants they’re treated badly.

What are teenagers supposed to do then, just make desserts out of an Easy-Bake oven? It’s just easier when one wants to make an impression or celebrate something to go to a nicer restaurant.

I’ve been to several resturants that do treat teenage customers as kindly as they treat adult customers, but I’ve been to many more that treat their teenage customers rudely.

If a nicer restaurant were to treat its teenage customers kindly, then that restaurant would start to get a reputation as being teenage friendly, which could lead to more teenagers giving both business and money to their restaurant. If that’s a “warning” for adult customers to not go to the restaurant, then, the generation gap is on both sides.

I wonder, its ever occurred to those adults that teenagers like having alone time with friends or significant others as adults do. Part of being a teenager is learning how to handle new freedoms and being able to assert some independence.

Of course, that’s not to say teenagers don’t have their part in the bargain as well. Teenagers should be kind, respectful and considerate and should not be obnoxious to other restaurant patrons.

It’s true that some teenagers live up to the stereotype, but restaurants shouldn’t be able to start treating all teenage customers terribly. Restaurants should hold judgments, and if the teens prove the stereotype right, tell them that if they continue to act that way they won’t be welcomed back. If they prove the stereotype wrong, then the restaurant should both welcome them back and say that it appreciates their business just as much as it would adult business.

Restaurants should be able to get past their discrimination against teenagers. They should be able to treat teenagers as much dignity and respect as they treat adults with because teenagers not only have more disposable money but also have a wide range of friends and family who could could be potential business patrons.

Treating their teenage customers as they treat their adult customers could eventually lead to the business becoming both well known and prosperous. It’s a win-win situation for both resturants and for their teen customers.


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