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This Italian Restaurant Charged a Family Because Their Child Ruined a Tablecloth

The Roman family was appalled to find that their daughter's tablecloth drawings ended up costing them an extra 16 euro.
September 3, 2015, 6:31pm
Foto von Matt DeTurck via Flickr

Giuseppe Di Natale, owner of Baja Sardinia restaurant in the town of Arzachena, has drawn a line in the smooth, white, Sardinian sand.

Earlier this week, a Roman family vacationing on Sardinia's Emerald Coast, brought their children along to dine at his restaurant.

READ MORE: A Restaurant That Banned Kids Just Did Its Best Ever Weekend Trade

To the surprise of the restaurant staff, Alessio Desideras' 20-month-old daughter wasted no time defacing expressing herself artistically on white linen tablecloths with red and blue pens provided by their waiter. According to local newspaper La Nuova Sardegna, the family had enjoyed the food but were appalled when they saw that Baja Sardinia had tacked a hefty 15.90 euro dry-cleaning fee onto their bill.

"We do not normally charge anything extra to the customer," the restaurant's owner, Giuseppe Di Natale, told La Nuova Sardegna. "But in this case it seemed like a lack of respect towards us, because we pointed out several times to the couple that their daughter was dirtying the tablecloth and napkins, which are linen. So, I charged them 15 euro and 90 cents, which I estimated is how it will cost to remove the stains."

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But Desidera doesn't see it that way. "The waiter brought us those pens!" he told La Nuova Sardegna. "My daughter was drawing on paper but some of it must have soaked through to the tablecloth."

After a few minutes of presumably animated arguing in Italian, the paterfamilias headed over to a local police station to file a formal complaint against the restaurant. Alessio Desidera has also become a self-appointed crusader for consumer rights protection.

"We paid out of astonishment and anger. But tourists are not well-protected. Beyond this single incident, it can happen that a child stains a tablecloth and napkins in a restaurant. These things happen. We understand that we are on the Emerald Coast, but the asking price is exaggerated."

Despite his best efforts, Desidera's crusade may be met with growing resistance by fellow customers and owners toward temperamental children in fine-dining establishments. Earlier this summer, after being told to "fuck off" by the mother of a wailing 2-year-old customer, Queensland chef Liam Flynn banned children under the age of seven (but not dogs) from his restaurant. The result: heaps of online praise and record sales at his restaurant.

Both sides claim that the Sardinia tablecloth incident is a matter of principle. But with restaurateurs increasingly taking a stand against annoying kids, the writing maybe be on the wall, and be on the tablecloth, for Mr. Desidera.