Man Overboard – HumbleDollar

Man Overboard Richard Quinn  |  Jul 8, 2022, 2:34 am ET

I’M IN THE SOUP—again. Italian wedding soup, to be precise. On special occasions, my wife and I enjoy going to a fine-dining restaurant. By this, I mean a calm, quiet atmosphere with ambiance, white tablecloths, no need to ask for the water glass to be refilled, more than one server for your table, an extensive wine list and good, creative food. Generally, such a place will attract people with similar objectives for the night. They dress and behave appropriately—or used to.

Recently, my wife and I dined at an upscale Italian restaurant. The least-expensive glass of wine was $14. Entrees ranged from $34 to $59. The service and food were excellent. The bill for dinner—with one glass of wine apiece—was about $200.

After we were seated, three couples with three children arrived. They were wearing jeans, T-shirts and sweatshirts. Most annoying was the guy wearing his baseball cap—backward—throughout dinner. I Googled it, and it’s still considered rude. In addition, one of the children was constantly running around the tables and nearly tripping the servers.

For us, this brought the atmosphere down a notch.

Last December, for our anniversary, we were in another restaurant, one even better than  this recent one. A couple sat next to us, with the guy wearing a hoody throughout the meal. In both cases, I suspect, the restaurant would rather avoid that kind of dress. But they’re in no position to turn customers away, especially these days.

As far as getting into the soup goes, I posted my experiences and feelings on a Facebook restaurant group. I’ll never learn. Within hours, there were over 150 comments, 99% of which defended the offending diners.

One commenter thought the diners may have been poor, had received a gift certificate and couldn’t afford nice clothes. Another suggested the guy with the hat probably was sick and too embarrassed to remove it. I was told that I hated children and shouldn’t dine early to get the early bird special—or any special, for that matter.

We are a nation built on excuses, financial and otherwise.

“Children will be children,” I was told. Underlying themes included “times have changed,” “get with it” and “mind your own business.” Most Facebook commenters said they didn’t care and didn’t look at other diners. So much for quiet ambiance.

In the olden days—meaning 40 or 50 years ago—when we took our four small children to a nice restaurant, they were appropriately dressed, sat on their chairs and their food was ordered from the regular menu. No spaghetti with butter. No chicken fingers. And they didn’t have an iPad or iPhone perched in front of them to keep them quiet. It became a thing in our family. When a person came by our table and complimented them, we gave them each a dime—just like John D. Rockefeller.

I have a theory as to why we leave this world when we get old. It’s not our bodies wearing out. It’s the frustrating behavior of the generations that follow. If we didn’t die naturally, we would eventually jump into the ocean on the next cruise. Our next cruise is booked for September. I hope there are no baseball caps or hoodies in the upscale dining venues we’ve reserved. The North Atlantic is cold.

Read more by Richard Quinn on HumbleDollar.

Source: Man Overboard – HumbleDollar


  1. Were they bothering you, disturbing your meal? If not, chalk it up that yes, times have changed – and let the manager/owner know you won’t be back. Confirm your requirements when you make a reservation in the future.

    If they were bothering you, I would have said something to the waiter and asked to change tables. I’ve done that more than once, even outdoors, where someone lights up a cigarette.

    And, if changing tables was not possible, I would ask to speak to the manager or owner and let them know, in no uncertain terms that I am leaving, without paying the bill, and that I will not be back. Confirm your requirements when you make a reservation in the future.

    Did Kavanaugh pay his bill when he left? I surely hope not. The management should have called the police.


  2. I am with the Facebook group
    Life is too short to complain about the little things in life that irk you. With the price of eating out at an all time high, I am just glad people, no matter how they are dressed, are supporting these businesses. One day we may see our choices limited to fast food, if we limit entry because of dress or children.


      1. I do not think manners matter, when we have so many other important things to deal with post Covid. We have always had parents that think little Jonny is an angle, and let the children run things. But, it is not worth letting it rent space in my mind.
        My sister in TX wants to know if the problem with others not meeting your high standards changed your tase buds and made the meal taste bad, lol.


      2. The Times They Are A-Changin.
        I have a friend, more than one, actually, who make a point to take their children to a good restaurant several times a year, dressed properly, to learn to behave, and how to order. I’ve met some of the kids. They are impressive.

        Although one of those men, a co-worker, always wears his ball cap when we eat at chain restaurants. That doesn’t bother me a lot, but it does a little. I mentioned it twice, then let it go.

        If I were in your situation, I would be inclined to look for a “better” restaurant.


  3. For years now I’ve seen people at church services dressed as you describe . At weddings too, and they are not poor or sick. The wearing of pajamas everywhere at least seems to be on the wane. I always get a chuckle when I go to the doctor and the doctor and staff will say ” You always look so nice !”. I guess they are as weary as you are of how their patients dress. A few resorts like The Greenbrier and Mohonk Mountain House still require dress attire . Not overrun with children, but the ones we saw were reasonably well behaved, and we had a pleasant experience. We brought ours when they were young to such places and they were always well behaved. But that’s just how they naturally are.


  4. Two decades ago, my family and I were in a typical average restaurant when another family’s kids starting acting up… whining and just doing naughty things. The parents threatened but didn’t do anything to back up their threats.

    After we left the restaurant, I sensed a ‘teachable moment”… I asked my kids about the other kids. With wide eyes, they replied: “They were naughty”… I asked them what would have happened if they had done that. They quickly stated that they would have been taken outside and spanked. They were right. Eating in a restaurant is a privilege not a right. In these times, I would have taken the kids outside and have them sit in the car (me staying with them)… spanking is no longer allowed in today’s society. Then my spouse and I would switch places and I would go in and eat. Then we’d go home (where more discussion would take place).


    1. I agree with you completely but then again I am 65 years old. There is nothing lovelier than well behaved children while dining and nothing more brain exploding than a screaming, shrieking child while dining. And people should learn to dress appropriately for the class level of the dining establishment.


  5. I’m with you 100%!! It’s a shame that people can’t act the part, dress the part, and look the part, when they go out into public. Remember the old adage, adapted…..”we are what we dress.” Well, people have taken the “casual dress” thing a bit too far – the youth of today will never know about getting dressed up for dinner, for synagogue, for church, to impress, etc. Sounds like I’m an old fuddy duddy…..well, I guess I am. Thank you.


  6. Unfortunately, the dress you described is fashionable as buying ripped jeans. Manors and children’s behavior have not changed and you are correct. However, today you must be very careful that the man in the hoody could have been a millionaire or part of the alphabet community.
    Our last trip to New Orleans, we went to a white cloth restaurant on Bourbon St by the menu post outside. It was in the 90’s and we were in shorts. We went in and then we’re told that they had a dress code. No big deal our hotel was less than a block away. Instead they sat us in the bar with others who made reservations and didn’t know about the dress code. Same great food and service.
    About 20 years ago, I came up with an ideal for a cruise line called Terminal Cruises. You sail until your money runs out and then you get a burial at sea. You can bring your family on board to celebrate your life and explain to them that you spent their inheritance on the cruise. I had made a pamphlet too. My doctor said people would buy tickets. Any investors?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s