parenting scandals

Is it a crime to have loud toddlers in a restaurant? Applebee's says yes

Sep. 20, 2013 at 6:34 PM ET

Applebees Calls Police on Family with Loud Children
Scott Olson/Getty Images /
Applebees Calls Police on Family with Loud Children

Going out to dinner—at an actual restaurant—is always a dicey proposition when toddlers are involved. But we're betting most family dining experiences don't involve calling the cops...on a 3-year-old.

According to Houston’s, Eli Gau, his partner, Lillian Maliti, and their two boys, Ryan, 3, and Ethan, 1, were dining at an Applebee’s in Katy, Texas, when—shocker—Ryan toddled away from the table at one point during the meal.

But what happened next really is shocking: When Gau got up to grab him, the restaurant’s manager told him his children were being too loud, called the police and told him and his family to beat it, the website reports.

"I feel disrespected," Maliti told KHOW. "This has never happened in my life."

"I feel heartbroken," added Gau.

Even worse, when the family left the restaurant, a Harris County sheriff’s deputy handed them “a notice warning them for criminal trespassing,” according to the website.

An Applebee’s spokesperson admitted the situation had been “mishandled,” KHOW reports, and Gau and his family were offered free meal passes—which Gau declined.

“When a disruption in our restaurants affects any of our Guests, it is the manager's responsibility to step in to resolve the situation,” a statement from Applebee’s read. “It is exceedingly rare that a situation requires the assistance of law enforcement, and our franchisee is using this instance as a teaching moment to better manage future disruptions in their restaurants."

Lesson No. 1? Calling the police on a wandering 3-year-old is probably an overreaction. Just sayin.’

Lesley Kennedy writes for's Online Shopping Report. Find her on Twitter @denveralamode and Google +.

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.