An Italian restaurateur tired of watching kids run completely amok around his wine bar has landed upon a genius solution: discount the check of parents who have the rare mannerly child. Restaurants’ more punitive go-to deterrents — threatening the parents with violence, say, or banning the little terrors from entering entirely — generally backfire and cause restaurants even bigger headaches, so Antonio Ferrari thought the carrot approach might make everybody happier. He says he just did it on a whim after seeing five children at one of his tables conduct themselves with what he called “much composure.” (“One was even doing maths homework,” he told the U.K. Times.) When their bill came, it had a 5 percent discount tacked on.
Italy has a tradition of family lunches that stretch for many, many hours, and the kids generally are nothing like that stereotype of their neighbors in France — model children who quietly chew while parents enjoy a glass of wine and adult time. Italian kids stuck at Sunday lunch are, as Ferrari learned, more fond of flinging water in the bathrooms, or popping up uninvited at other customers’ tables. He decided he had to rein in that behavior or risk alienating other guests, so he’s now extended the “polite-children discount,” as the bill describes it, to three more families since Sunday. So far, it’s been pretty win-win: That first family got a $14 discount, but felt compelled to leave a tip — an unusual act in Italy — of $32.