SOUTH GLENS FALLS -- If children want to eat inside the local McDonald’s when they get out of school, they better bring an adult.
On Thursday, signs were added to each entrance to inform customers that children under the age of 16 cannot eat inside the restaurant from 2:30 to 5 p.m. unless they bring an adult to supervise them. It’s a rule that has irked some parents.
Children, however, are allowed to eat on their own on the picnic tables outside.
Josh Dutcher, the restaurant manager, said children have vandalized and caused disruptions at the restaurant for years.
But the latest incident happened Tuesday, when children tore a cushion on a seat and carved a curse word on a table.
That prompted him to put up the signs and contact the police. The new rule will be enforced until the investigation into Tuesday’s vandalism is complete.
The restaurant is located a block away from the Oliver W. Winch Middle School. It is a popular place for students when they get out of school in the afternoon. Parents also like to leave their children there.
“These kids come after school. The majority of them don’t buy anything. They are disruptive to customers,” Dutcher said.
Dutcher said he has warned children that he will ban them if their behavior doesn’t improve.
He said he has to kick out at least five children a day.
The restaurant is privately owned, which allows them to enforce the rule, Dutcher said.
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“We have the right to deny service to anyone within reason,” Dutcher said.
Still, some parents are upset because their child did nothing wrong but was told to eat outside.
Sherry Granger said her 14-year-old daughter, Hannah Granger, and a friend visited McDonald’s on Wednesday for sodas and French fries, but were told they could not eat inside.
When Sherry Granger found out, she called the restaurant and spoke to the assistant manager, who said a few children used a knife to cut the cushioned seats.
Sherry Granger said she also visited the restaurant Thursday to tell the manager she thought it was wrong to create the ban.
“In my opinion, because there are a couple of bad apples, it doesn’t mean the whole bushel is bad,” she said. “A lot of kids go there and now they can’t go there.”
Cathy Skellie, a parent, said it’s a tradition for some Oliver Winch students to visit McDonald’s after school.
Her daughter, Justyne Skellie, 12, went there with a friend Wednesday. It was her first time visiting McDonald’s on her own, a proud moment until she was told to eat outside, Cathy Skellie said.
“I am upset,” she said. “This has been a tradition of years and years to go there after school.”
School officials could not be reached Friday. But schools often can do little regarding incidents that happen off school grounds.
The restaurant was remodeled last year. The vandalism includes a swastika that was etched on a table.