June 2, 2004

PlayDine: In-Restaurant Baby-sitting

Last Tuesday, in the early evening, the playroom at Big City Bar & Grill held 10 children who were supervised by two baby sitters. One mother, Chris P. [no sense taking over her Google results], hung over the railing and called downstairs, "Jason, what do you want for dinner?" He barely looked up from his game. "I'll have noodles with butter on them," he answered.

Another mother walked downstairs with a toddler, surveying the scene. Three girls held a short-lived screaming contest, one boy crawled around with a backpack on his head and another was inside a portable cloth bus, attempting to drive it. "Do you want to play with the other kids?" the mother asked.

The toddler took it in. "No," he said.

Sounds like a stairway to heaven for parents, or a descent into hell for the child-free. It's in the Times today.

PlayDine was started by Dan Lowenstein, a NYC dad (and NYU MBA) who wanted to go out to dinner in peace. His research showed that 56% of Upper West Side parents dined out with their kids 3+ times/week, while a similar % dined out alone less than once a month.

Started in 2003, PlayDine quickly expanded all over the world: the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, and The Village.

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