Arby's sparks fury with notice for 'well behaved children'

An Arby's in Minnesota is stirring plenty of controversy after the restaurant posted a sign demanding that children behave themselves.  

The sign, taped to the door of an Arby's in Elk River, Minn., was topped with the word "Notice" in a bold-printed font. Below it there was a message for any children entering the restaurant. 

"Only well behaved children who can keep their food on their trays and their bottoms on their seats are welcome. If you can't do this you will be asked to leave. Thanks," the note read. 

Christine Hemsworth, who originally encountered the notice and spoke with local station KARE-TV about her experience, was outraged when she visited the location with three of her five children. 

"I was like 'Oh, gosh,'" Hemsworth told KARE-TV. "I've got a 2-year-old with me and he doesn't always keep his fries on the tray or his bottom on the seat. He sometimes stands up."

Hemsworth said the sign made for an "uncomfortable and stressful meal," as she was constantly worried her children would do something that would anger management. The mom added that she had eaten at the location before, but this was the first time she'd seen a warning. 

She attempted to call the Arby's corporate hotline after leaving, but hung up after getting an automated voice message. Instead, Hemsworth posted about the experience on Facebook, with her post quickly going viral as others shared in her frustration. 

"I'm not a complainer — I'm really not," Hemsworth told TODAY. "But this just didn't sit well with me. The manager could have addressed the message to people individually, not assigned it to the general public."

Not everyone felt the same way though. After KARE-TV shared the story on its own Facebook page, many parents in the community weighed in with thoughts about the sign. 

"If the unruly children were coming to my house, I would say the same thing. Very rude to all their other patrons to have to deal with unruly children on a meal out," one Facebook commenter wrote.

"I wish more places did this. Maybe parents will get the hint and discipline their kids," another replied.

But many also echoed Hemsworth's sentiments, saying they found it ridiculous for a restaurant — let alone a fast food chain — to demand certain behavior from children. 

"Yep. When I want to have a pleasant and quiet sit-down meal with my family, I immediately consider Arby's," one commenter wrote.

"Expecting little children to be quiet is asking too much of them, especially when they are hangry," another joked. 

Some commenters also suggested that the sign was counterproductive, saying children need to eat in public before learning how to behave properly. 

"How are children ever supposed to learn how to behave in restaurants, movie theatres, etc., if they are never allowed in these places," one commenter wrote. 

After the story went viral, Arby's released an official statement apologizing for the notice, although Hemsworth said she had not heard from the company directly. The company told TODAY it has "disciplined" the manager and team at its Elk River location. 

"We recognize the language on this sign was insensitive. We removed it quickly, and have disciplined the manager and team working at the restaurant. It does not reflect our company values and the family-friendly environment we aim to provide in all of our restaurants," an Arby's spokesperson told TODAY.