Exile in Gatti Land

If you have a child over the age of five and have never been to Mr. Gatti's, I commend you. I have to admit, as a parent, I have been lured into the quintessential "kid friendly" pizza buffet/arcade, and I'm sorry, but eating mediocre food with Sponge Bob blaring in the background just isn't that much fun. Although I've accepted that occasionally visiting these gimmicky places is just part of the package of having kids, I don't believe that "kid-friendly" and "parent-friendly" have to be mutually exclusive concepts when it comes to eating out. If you're like me and generally prefer to avoid the brand of "fun" that Mr. Gatti's offers, check out these local places our family frequents. [India Palace][1] 129 E. 10th St. I must eat at the India Palace lunch buffet at least once a week. Aside from the yummy food, I like this place because the staff genuinely seems to love kids. On days when my kid's favorite dessert isn't on the buffet, the waiters bring out a special bowl of it from the kitchen for each my girls. A lot of the food is a little spicy for kids, but the Tandoori chicken is pretty mild and there is always rice, fruit, and Nan (flatbread). This is our entire family's favorite restaurant.[Jade][2] 1511 W. 23rd St. The biggest buffet in the world! This place has all the Chinese food standards, a Mongolian barbecue, and on the weekends, all you can eat sushi. They also have a salad bar with plenty of fruit, grated cheese, etc. If your kids won't go for any of this stuff, there's also French fries and self-serve ice cream. Like India Palace, the staff here is very sweet to kids. One waitress even makes an effort to tell the difference between my twin daughters (something some members of my family can't do).[Free State Brewery][3] 636 Massachusetts St. Good food and good beer, we all know this. It's nice that Free State makes it fun to bring the kids along sometimes, too. The staff is always pretty friendly to the little ones and they provide pencils and paper to keep the kids entertained. The kids' menu includes a fruit and cheese plate as well as the other typical kids' fare. When the kids get restless, we go peek at the fishpond in the back room (it's next to the waiter's station so try to stay out of their way).And falling under the "I wish it were more kid friendly" category[Milton's][4] 920 Massachusetts St. My kids can wolf down a plate of pancakes and eggs from Milton's in record time, and this restaurant's dessert case is enchanting for any kid with a sweet tooth. Unfortunately, I don't think kids are really Milton's thing. They have a limited amount of highchairs and booster seats and I've only had one visit where the waitress did not seem vaguely annoyed by the slightly greater effort waiting on a family requires.But these are just my opinions. Let me know what places you think should be on the list! [1]: http://calendars.lawrence.com/places/80/ [2]: http://calendars.lawrence.com/places/85/ [3]: http://calendars.lawrence.com/places/70/ [4]: http://calendars.lawrence.com/places/113/


Kelly Powell 14 years, 3 months ago

My biggest complaint is when I go to free state and have to wait for a barstoll cuz some parent has parked them there until they get a table.....And one time one of them loudly demanded that I put out my smoke at the bar! I can tolerate your kids just fine...But please remember that the bar is the adults playground.

Rob Gillaspie 14 years, 3 months ago

Dave Lewis, owner of Milton's, is a notorious child hater. He and his coffe clatch of local yuppie downtowners have been known to sit at the bar and very loudly talk about how much they wish that "fucking kid behind us" would "shut the hell up." When I worked there, he used to complain all the time about how he wished there was some way to make the restaurant adults-only. So it probably wasn't your imagination that the waitresses seemd annoyed by your kids; the anti-family atmosphere is a deliberate one.

Rob Gillaspie 14 years, 3 months ago

I would if I had the cash. I'd love to run a greasy downtown nook, like the Bluebird or Drake's used to be... but not like Paradise eventually became. And I can flip eggs like a fucking machine. Any backers?

Rob Gillaspie 14 years, 3 months ago

I dunno...my folks used to beat then shit outta me if if I threw a fit in public. I stopped pretty quick. On the other hand, I have a kid, I love other people's kids, and it crakcs me up when I see them making other people uncomfortable. Children are much more interesting than adults, and I'd rather hear one kid screaming from boredom than a thousand hipster grown ups talking about what shitty band they saw last night. The more kids, the better.

Nick Spacek 14 years, 3 months ago

The Java Break has breakfast all the time now. The prices and food are roughly equivalent to what you used to find at Jester's (name not any relation).

And as far as kid-friendly food, my girlfriend's 4 year-old adores the chicken satay and peanut sauce at Pochi Tea. They're pretty kid-friendly, smoke free, and offer plenty of interesting stuff to look at. I'm all for exposing littl'uns to Japanese karaoke.

Tim vonHolten 14 years, 3 months ago

i don't want this to become a milton's- or dave lewis-bashing blog, but. . . wait, yes i do. i can't speak about the quality of milton's food because of the very fact that dave's such a prick. as for wheatfields, if i never have the stale scones smothered in lukewarm pork fat that they call biscuits and gravy again, it'll be too goddamn soon. . . i gave this place exactly 3 chances. not only is the staff insufferable, they are the only place i've ever been to fuck up toast. TOAST!!! i'm with murderama. let's get a greasy spoon back in this town. okay, maybe not as greasy as drakes, but greasy. the idea of a town this size without one is shameful and ridiculous. artisan bakery my ass. where can i get a decent omelette on or near mass? nowhere.

Tim vonHolten 14 years, 3 months ago

do you mean the linwood cafe? great place. 6oz ribeye, 3 eggs, hashbrowns, and toast (coffee included) for $5.95. only the pancakes are a disappointment. unfortunately, one group of irony-seeking dumbass hipster brunchers would fill the place. so shhhhhh. let them busy themselves with their fancypants slate-hard french toast a la wheatfields. i apologize if i seem angry, but the fact that jefferson's (the worst "restaurant" in the history of food- and food service-related butchery) continues to pack people in night after night gives me every right to claim some epicurean superiority regarding eating establishments in lawrence. and god damn it, i love breakfast. and i don't want to drive out to first watch and stand in line! keep your stupid little baker hats! stop trying so hard! this is not high tea, nor is it the last supper! let's take out the ceremony and image and add the butter! i want my fucking breakfast back!

Tim vonHolten 14 years, 3 months ago

Even as a parent of two small children, i've got to say that lag_aquarian raises a good point about "parent oblivion." lag, have you really had a kid take something off your plate? jesus. milesmama also has a point, but even as you're scarfing down your food, people, childless and otherwise, are suffering through a child's misbehavior. the only solution for this is the cure my parents used: take the child out. it sucks, but people appreciate the effort, and it's common courtesy, something missing in many aspects of our lives. this is why my wife and i rarely shared a meal during the 'twos', as fits can come on as suddenly as a tornado. we never risked/risk a meal out when the kids were/are acting 'sugared up', and when a fit strikes, one parent is going to be eating out of a carryout container. kids aren't always angels, but that's not the problem of the people around you.

liz, how about an appendix to this blog of restaurant food that tastes good out of the doggy bag?

and i don't mean to be cavalier about taking children out of restaurants / grocery stores / anywhere if they're misbehaving - it only works if their are two adults to split duty. what do single parents do?

Tim vonHolten 14 years, 3 months ago

oh, and buddha. . .

that's definitely frustrating, and no one's fault except free state's. a great place with the shittiest room design in town. they ruined a kickass beer garden. maybe they should have added a waiting room. i'm a smoking advocate, but what are parents supposed to do when the bar is smack dab in the middle of the dining / waiting room?

Joel 14 years, 3 months ago

I'm completely down with the need for a new breakfast place downtown. Milton's and Wheatfields are great, but they just aren't enough.

Sorry Liz. I've got no kids. I can't comment on kid friendliness.

Joel 14 years, 3 months ago

True dat, Phil, I'd forgotten about Tellers. You're right, it's good stuff. I miss Paradise, though, when I could literally roll out of bed, pull on some shorts and go eat breakfast. You've got to prepare yourself a little more for a visit to Tellers, I think.

Bad_Brad 14 years, 3 months ago

I agree, "Got Kids?" is a great blog idea. The rest of the blogosphere seems to treat people with kids as if they don't exist. As far as breakfast goes, HyVee on Sixth Street serves up a very solid breakfast for under $5. My breakfast is usually a very simple cereal and milk, plus maybe some fresh fruit on the side, but on weekends when I happen to be in Lawrence, I'm more than happy to indulge in some sausage, eggs, biscuits, and pancakes at HyVee.

itsoffthehook 14 years, 3 months ago

Hy-Vee has quite an amazing all you can eat buffett including an omlet buffett on saturdays if I am not mistaken. I give it two fat kid thumbs up.

pumpkin 14 years, 3 months ago

Yes. Lawrence needs a good breakfast spot dowtown. Went to Linville Cafe a couple of weeks ago for breakfast. Eggs, hashbrowns, ham, toast...all under $5.

pumpkin 14 years, 3 months ago

monkeywrench: Yeah, I meant Linwood. Kinda tired when I posted. I should keep it a secret. There aren't many seats there anyway. Another good spot is Scranton for breakfast if you want to take a drive.

pumpkin 14 years, 3 months ago

liz: Great idea for a blog. I don't have kids, but it's nice to see other groups represented in the blogs besides the typical fair. Cheers!

pumpkin 14 years, 3 months ago

lag: Nice. I'm going to save that one for when I have kids.:)

callahan 14 years, 3 months ago

Westside Deli has a great, fairly cheap breakfast, and they serve it until 2 p.m. on Sundays. They seem to be very kid-friendly. Also, Firstwatch, of course, has exceptional breakfast fare. One of them should add a branch downtown, though nothing would beat a classic eggs-and-bacon diner.

callahan 14 years, 3 months ago

"Got Kids?" is a great idea for a blog, by the way. It's actually a service to readers, rather than self-important musings on random topics.

lag_aquarian 14 years, 3 months ago

This is in no way making a judgment about this blog or the author of the blog, just stating experience from the flip side of the coin...

As a frequent patron of many downtown establishments I am most irritated by 'parent oblivion'. I have had my share of bad experiences with children in restaurants because of the parents inability to recognize that not everyone wants to share their mealtime with someone else's child. I know it's not the child's fault, and I on many occasion let the parent know my vexation. But I would prefer not to here other kids scream, whine, nor do I really want them in my face while eating or have them actually take something off my plate. Now I am fully aware that not all children are like this but it only takes a few bad experiences to make 'child haters' out of a 'coffee clatch of local yuppie downtowners'.

I wish you well in your quest for kid/parent friendly eating establishments, but one thing to remember before business/restaurants owners and operators are bashed for not having a 'kid friendly' environment is it may only take one 'bad experience' to cause procurement of a broodless environment.

lag_aquarian 14 years, 3 months ago

The point of my rant wasn't to ban kids from restaurants, but as monkeywrench mentioned just to have common courtesy for fellow patrons and maybe these attitudes wouldn't be rampant.

Monkeywrench - it happened at wheatfields. It was early and I hadn't even started my caffeine fix yet, I was in such shock that I didn't even get a word out. (Which is very unusual for myself) The tykes mother didn't even apologize. Just smirked and said "he must still be hungry".

lag_aquarian 14 years, 3 months ago

Oh and yes I was a kid once. A sibling of 3. Maybe I was just raised funny...but if you pulled that "mayhem" in a restaurant or any public place, you were pulled aside/outside 'til you calmed down and then got to apologize to those around you and to the service staff. Quite humbling and I don't ever remember that it happened more than once for any of us kids and surprisingly enough this technique works today.

liz 14 years, 3 months ago

Hearing this kind of makes me want to tell everyone I know with kids to go to Milton's, just to see if we can drive the owner completely mad. But the other side of me wants to quit giving him my money. Please, someone, open a new breakfast place downtown!

liz 14 years, 3 months ago

Who knew breakfast was such a hot topic? Anyone know what they charge for kids at the Tellers breakfast buffet? I might go if it were under $5. Still, $30 is an expensive morning for a family of 4.

When I was in Tucson, there was a nice little lesbian-owned breakfast spot that had good food and coffee as well as a small area with books and toys that made it clear kids were welcome. The place did great business basically because they realized that people with kids like cool coffee shops just as much as the next guy. Very simple, yet very decent. Greasy spoon or goat cheese omellete, just give me a place with good food that is run by nice folks.

liz 14 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. I agree that parents need to repect people around them and realize that not everybody thinks their kids are cute. I'm also not convinced that "a few bad apples" justifies an overall nasty attitude toward kids. (not directed at anyone here specifically, I think people have been respectful overall) I'll probably hash this out in a future blog.

rocketsam 14 years, 3 months ago

India Palace rocks! Also, the folks at La Familia are awful nice when it comes to accomodating my son's very particular instructions regarding cheese and sauce. And the Rudy's crew is exceptional, too. If you don't mind the kids getting sugared up before dinner, they have free "fruit" roll-ups to help with waiting. A word to restauranteurs: a fishpond/aquarium is worth its weight in gold.

Lauren Reinhold 14 years, 3 months ago

Guess what? Sometimes those of us who have kids need to get out sometimes. If you want to go somewhere likely to be kid-free, try Pachamama's... Believe me too, when I tell you that the parents of kids who get restless in restaurants are having an even worse time than the observer. Have you noticed that we usually scarf down our food and pack up to go quickly? I will agree that sometimes parents let their kids get away with too much mayhem in public places, but the world is not going to be kid-free anytime soon. We were all even kids at one time ourselves-really!

I know this sounds rather acerbic, but I was awoken at 6:00 a.m. this morning by a two year old demanding to watch TV, but not liking any of the choices I gave him. Enjoy your childlessness and sleep late for me, okay?

I like the idea of doing a regular blog called "Got Kids?" or perhaps "Exile in Kidville." And, if you want an acerbic-sounding column written, I am the mama for you.

Patrick Quinn 14 years, 3 months ago

Now, let's keep the Spongebob-bashing to a minimum....

amylou 14 years ago

I must say the Jade Mongolian Buffet is by far my favorite "kid friendly" place, not only for the food choices but for the staff. They LOVE my kids! They will even take my baby for me while I eat if they are not busy! Talk about service...and who can beat all-you-can eat crab legs, sushi, and shrimp for $10.50 on the weekend.

GardenMomma 11 years, 10 months ago


Single parents take their kids out too. At least I do. I have left many places, not just resturants, in a hurry without my intended purchases due to grumpy (ok, badly behaving) kids.

It's tough being a single parent. There's no one to "tag team" with and you feel extra responsible for your child(ren)'s behavior.

I do my best. It's all I can do. Thankfully, I have GREAT parents of my own who are AWESOME grandparents and help me out trememdously.

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