Guess what Earls Restaurant? Families living in Metro Vancouver are happy to take our business elsewhere.
The debate all started when Michelle – a new mom with a baby – decided to meet up with friends at the Earls in North Vancouver. A longtime customer of Earls Restaurants, she was disappointed to learn that there were no highchairs nor change tables available. She decided to write a post to Earls on Facebook with her complaint about the lack of conveniences for families which has since gone viral with over 500 likes and hundreds of comments.
Earls decided to write back saying “although we at Earls love families, we would not classify ourselves as a family restaurant. Our restaurants do not, as a rule, offer highchairs & booster chairs or changing stations.”
Interesting as that was, Michelle felt there was more to the story and wrote back to Earls “When I think of your competitors, I think of The Keg, The Boathouse, Cactus Club & Milestones. All of these restaurants cater to the same clientele as Earls…I phoned these restaurants to see if they provided high chairs or change tables. ALL of them do and in fact, the Boathouse (Port Moody) and Keg (Coquitlam) even go so far to provide a family washroom facility. I thought you should be aware of what your competition is up to as I will be sure to take my business there in the future. I will also be sure to let all of my parent friends be aware that your restaurant does not consider itself to be a family establishment.”
Take that Earls Restaurant. And here is the thing you don’t know about moms in the Tri-Cities where Michelle and I live. We hang out together online in moms groups with hundreds and hundreds of members and everyone is talking about this…Nobody is planning to head to Earls for dinner with or without the kids.
As Stephanie from the Tri-Cities Moms Group puts it “There are certainly better (and yummier) choices out there at which we will choose to dine!”
After all the bad publicity with articles on TheThirtiesGrind blog, GlobalBC, MSN’s Embrace the Chaos, and The Province, Earls has since come back with a message on their website, clearly scrambling to salvage their reputation.
According to Earls, “we welcome all guests, including families with children…some of our restaurants do have highchairs, approximately a quarter of our locations, and just over half our restaurants have booster chairs…” although mostly in suburban areas.
However “our restaurants do not offer a children’s menu…Instead we find parents feel many of our appetizers are suitable and those who wish to may ask for a modified menu, preferring those fresh, healthy choices we prepare from scratch over a frozen, pre-prepared product other restaurants might offer as their “children’s menu”.
Ha ha! This summer, we stayed in Whistler for a couple of nights with our four year old. We were looking for a place near our hotel and landed at Earls, probably a first for our family since kids. To be fair, we were treated well, but let’s be clear – our son ate the breaded chicken fingers off the appetizer menu. Not sure how fresh and healthy that was.
The whole debacle just leaves a bad taste in my mouth (not a fresh, healthy taste!). It’s not like I would regularly go to Earls with my child but to find out that they actively discourage babies and children by not providing the basics for them and suggest you bring your own highchair or need to call ahead to see if they have one? Ridiculous.
And it’s really too bad that Earls decided to come out so firmly to say they aren’t a family restaurant. As the mother of a young child, my customer service expectations and choices now revolve around which stores, restaurants and organizations are family friendly. I get that Earls is not and I don’t plan to go there for any reason in the near future – not for date night and especially not for moms night out.
For parents looking for family friendly restaurants, I personally like Montana’s, White Spot, Boston Pizza, Milestones, The Keg and Sammy J Peppers.<