Dan McCauley

If you’re ever in Chicago’s North Side and feel the urge for a cup of joe in a quiet atmosphere, be sure to go to A Taste of Heaven café. There, owner Dan McCauley has posted on the front door a sign – at child level and complete with pastel handprints – that states, “Children of all ages have to behave and use their indoor voices when coming to A Taste of Heaven.” The sign was an attempt to quiet his tin-ceiling café, where teachers and writers looking for a peaceful spot were subjected to noisy children running all over the place.Before the sign, one little girl sprawled herself on the floor, blocking the coffee line, while her parents casually continued reading the newspaper. Other kids were climbing the café’s poles. (Maybe the girls were practicing for their ultimate vocation.) Then, when a family left after being admonished by McCauley for allowing their children to run across the room and hurl themselves against the display case, the place erupted in applause. That’s when he decided to put up the sign.
“It’s not about the kids,” said McCauley, who’s 44 years old and has no kids, but claims he likes them a lot. “It’s about the parents who are with them. Are they supervising and guiding them?” McCauley continued, “I’m just asking that they are considerate to people around them.”

Since he posted the sign, McCauley’s received hundreds of calls and over 600 letters, the overwhelming majority of them supportive. One such letter from Alabama had this message typed in bold letters: “In my opinion, you’re a hero! Keep it up.” We couldn’t agree more.

Of course, McCauley’s made some enemies in his neighborhood with his sign. Some of the moms in the area took offense at the implied criticism of their parenting skills, or lack thereof, and started a boycott of the café. About these protesting parents, McCauley said they’re “former cheerleaders and beauty queens” who “have a very strong sense of entitlement.”

“Part of parenting skills is teaching kids they behave differently in a restaurant than they do on the playground,” McCauley said in an interview. “If you send out positive energy, positive energy returns to you. If you send out energy that says I’m the only one that matters, it’s going to be a pretty chaotic world.”

None of that matters, though, to some parents who have stopped going to the café (which is probably just fine with McCauley and his remaining patrons). Laura Brauer, who’s 40 and has two children, insists “kids scream and there is nothing you can do about it. What are we supposed to do, not enjoy ourselves at the café?”

Hello!?! ThatÂ’s the whole point of the damn sign. Other patrons canÂ’t enjoy themselves when your kids are creating an environment more tense than a hostage standoff.

Then there’s Kim Cavitt, mother of a two-year-old, who stopped going to the café. “You go to a coffee shop or a bakery for a rest or relax,” but the sign requires that “you would have to worry the whole time about your children doing something that children do.”

Damn, woman! It’s called parenting! You might want to try it sometime! The man’s licensed to run a café, not a daycare!

Thank you, Dan McCauley, for taking a stand in the name of civility and etiquette. At a time when smoking is prohibited in so many places, kids shouldnÂ’t be given free rein to create an atmosphere stressful enough to make even the staunchest anti-smoking Nazi want to light up.