Should restaurants be allowed to ban teens for bad behaviour?

Click to play video: 'Restaurants should be allowed to ban destructive, unruly students: expert'
Restaurants should be allowed to ban destructive, unruly students: expert
Restaurants should be allowed to ban destructive, unruly students: expert – Apr 17, 2019

A Wisconsin-based restaurant chain is taking a stand against teenagers who misbehave.

According to, Tom’s Drive In, a chain with several locations in the U.S., banned teens from one of their locations a few months ago. Manager Brandon Coumbe told the website he started with a sign.

“Middle school students… Due to mistreatment of Tom’s Drive In’s property, guests and staff, you are no longer allowed inside of the building without parental supervision,” the sign read.

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“For those who did not cause any of the incidents, we are sorry for this inconvenience. You may still purchase food through the walk-up window.”

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Speaking with the site, Coumbe said the sign went up because middle school-aged children became “disruptive and destructive.”

He added the teens were disturbing other customers as well as staff by swearing, yelling, vandalizing the tables and even standing on tables.

“We want to create a comfortable and safe environment for our customers and staff and protect the building from any potential damage,” he told the site.

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Coumbe added his intention is not to ban all students, but to teach them how to respect properties they go to. The chain still offers outdoor seating for all and teens who do want to order meals can use the walk-up window — they are just not allowed to dine inside.

Should restaurants be allowed to ban teens?

Early childhood consultant Julie Romanowski of Miss Behaviour in Vancouver told Global News Coumbe has every right to ban teens from his restaurant.

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But she added the restaurant does need to have a plan.

“Letting all the patrons know the expectations of the restaurant, is a start,” she continued. “Have a visual sign that is big enough for all to see. Allow for one warning and then let them know what will happen if they don’t comply.

Other restaurants have had similar bans in the past.

In 2015, a McDonald’s in Pennsylvania banned young teens from entering the chain without an adult, Hello Giggles reported. Just a week before the ban, four teens were charged with trespassing, simple assault, harassment and stalking, and the manager added too many teens were socializing for long periods of time.

“Our top priority is the safety of our customers and crew. For this reason, we have put a temporary policy in place, limiting lobby to only accompanied minors,” the business said in a statement.

READ MORE: Why does it seem like teens lack a sense of urgency?

A KFC in Stoke-on-Trent, a city in central England, banned teens in 2016 following a chain of violent fights in the restaurant, the Independent U.K. reported. “The way some of these youngsters act can be scary for staff,” the restaurant said.

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“Under 18s are not strictly banned from the premises, they can come in to order their meal but then they have to take it out.”

In the same city, a local McDonald’s issued the same ban.

In Canada, there has been chatter of restaurants banning loud children in cities like Toronto and islands Cape Breton, but a lot of this came down to ethics.

Teaching teens proper behaviour in restaurants

Parenting coaches previously told Global News it is up to parents to control their kids and if they misbehave in restaurants. 

“By removing them, it really stops that misbehaviour and teaches them to think about other people,” Karen Skinulis, a co-author of several parenting books, previously told Global News.

Romanowski said when bans happen, teens can feel betrayed, abandoned or discriminated against.

This may cause retaliation and potential harm to the restaurant or employees. Or the teens will move on and learn from it or go somewhere else where they can get away with it again,” she explained. 

READ MORE: How a developmental mismatch affects teen behaviour

And as parents, it is our responsibility to teach our teenagers about restaurant etiquette, especially when they visit them without adult supervision.

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Role modelling is key, especially during the early years in the areas of restaurant etiquette, manners, following expectations and most of all — respect towards others,” she continued.

“Also, bring up the topic of this concept of getting ‘kicked out’ from places and what this could mean in the future or possibly long-term consequences like a criminal record or fine as well as your reputation which may affect things like not being able to get a job or get into college because of these types of behaviours and situations.”

— with files from Minna Rhee
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