By Amy Hotz
Published: Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 11:44 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 11:44 a.m.
Brenda Armes saw the reporter long before the reporter saw her. The camera and notebook probably gave it away.
But it’s likely that, after this past week, Armes could spot a reporter in his weekend beach clothes.
After an Associated Press article hit the news wires about a sign in her restaurant’s window that says, “Screaming children will NOT be tolerated!,” the owner of Olde Salty on the Carolina Beach boardwalk has been bombarded with phone calls from television and newspaper reporters, as well as from random citizens.
“I think people like it,” she said.
For proof, Armes walked over to the restaurant’s answering machine and pushed a button. Of the 40 or so messages, she said, two are negative.
The rest come from men and women, both locals and out-of-staters, who say things like, “congratulations” or “I really appreciate you not tolerating screaming children.”
A woman who identified herself as being from Raleigh said, “Good for you and I applaud you. If I ever come to Carolina Beach, I’ll be sure to have dinner at your restaurant.”
Another woman, who identified herself as being from South Carolina, simply said, “Way overdue.”
Armes shook her head and sat on a chair near one of her regular customers, Don Greeson, a Carolina Beach resident.
“It’s already helped business,” Armes said. “It helped before all this started.”
The sign has been up for about six months, but the phone calls didn’t start until after the Associated Press story came out.
Greeson looked up from his fried oyster plate and said, “What’s so good is people are actually doing what the sign says.”
Armes explained that if a child is misbehaving and being loud, she won’t ask the family to leave permanently. She just wants them to take the kid outside or to the bathroom until he or she calms down. It’s a simple courtesy to the other customers, she said. And now that the sign is there, more people are taking heed.
“There’s no such thing as a bad child,” Armes said. “There’s just ignorant parents.”
She went on to explain that all the attention began after a woman came in about three weeks ago. Armes emerged from the kitchen to find out what the lady wanted.
“She said that sign insulted her,” Armes said. “She said it was discriminating against her autistic child. I said, ‘No way. There is nothing on that sign that says anything about autistic kids.’ ”
Town councilman Dan Wilcox said he’s heard about the attention surrounding the sign. He thinks people have overreacted.
“I have a disabled son and it doesn’t offend me,” he said. “I know for a fact Brenda’s is family friendly … She’s just a character.”
Most other restaurants in the area don’t seem to have written policies on how to handle unruly children. They just deal with it as the situation arises. Michael McGowan, owner of Michael’s Seafood, another Carolina Beach restaurant, said in 15 years, he’s only had to say something about a screaming kid once. He said as long as you’re polite, most parents will respect the request.
While Armes explained her sign to yet another reporter, a young family walked in the door. They looked like they came straight off the beach, with wet hair and towels still in their hands. They sat down and ordered seafood.
Lenny Mislang, the mother, said they were visiting from Ireland. They did not see the sign when they walked in. But even if they had, she said, they still would have patronized the business.
Mislang’s 6-year-old daughter picked up a french fry from the colorful, fish-shaped paper plate that held her special kids meal and said, “I’m good. I don’t scream.”
Earlier, Armes had pointed to the playful fish plate and said, “If I hated kids, you think I’d have that?”
Amy Hotz: 343-2099
Click to view image: 'd949348ac85f-bilde.jpeg'
|Liveleak on Facebook|