Outback Serves Toddler Booze, Makes More Helicopter Parents


OutbackHere we go again. Another restaurant in a national chain has been accused of giving a little kid booze. Once is an accident. Twice a coincidence. Now I'm getting scared of what's to come. This time it was an Outback in Ohio, where 4-year-old Gracie Kerwin's mom says the toddler got a snootful of peach schnapps and vodka thanks to an idiot server.

Here's what I don't get. A pregnant woman so much as walks into a bar, and the people go all judgearoo. But a toddler wants a slushy drink loaded down with the hooch, and no one raises an eyebrow? Priorities, folks! Priorities!

Kelly Kerwin says they were handing out little slushie drinks in condiment cups to folks waiting for a table. Kerwin's sister asked if there was any alcohol in them, and the server said no. So they all drank up. I don't blame them really. Kids get antsy when they're waiting in line. Give 'em something to down, and they're a lot easier to handle. The other patrons like that.

But of course despite being all smart and asking if the drinks were virgin, they found out what was really in there ... after Gracie had her first taste of the good stuff. They're obviously upset, and I would be too. If you'll recall, this has happened not just at Outback, but at Olive Garden and Applebee's this year. You'd think all nationwide chains would be on hyper alert after the media bonanza that was the first two incidents.

But seeing as my kid isn't the one who got liquored up, here's what really bugs me. What happens when our kids actually want alcohol? When they've moved past the toddler stage when they just take what Mommy gives them, and will let out a loud "yuck" if they taste something out of the ordinary. What about when they're teenagers eager to try getting tipsy?

If all these restaurant servers are so willing to play fast and loose with the rules, who exactly is guarding the hen house? Not only did they (allegedly) lie to this family, but obviously no one checked Kelly Kerwin or her sister for ID before handing over an alcoholic beverage. I'm the mother of a 6-year-old, and I got ID'd Saturday night when I tried to buy a beer at a concert (yes, I'm legal, and yes, they were doing their jobs -- this isn't a complaint, folks!). I always thought that was pretty standard, but apparently not.

I'd prefer not to be a helicopter parent who doesn't trust my kid to step out of my sight. I don't want to taste everything put in front of my little kid like some guinea pig who works to protect a head of state. But now I'm on edge, and I will be for a good long time. I can protect my little kid with a quick taste test. But who wants to send their 16-year-old out with her friends for a bloomin' onion if places like the Outback can't get a handle on who is allowed alcohol and who isn't?

Does this "mistake" worry you?


Image via soeperbaby/Flickr



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Ashleigh Munson

Seems to me that it's illegal to just hand out alcohol like that, with no IDing, outside the bar. I hope they get a heft fine in addition to the lawsuit.

spira... spiralbelle19

YES it does make me worry.  Especially because I had it happen to me when I was pregnant.  I went to the Outback and ordered a coconut smoothie.  When we recieved the bill It was like 7 dollars instead of 3.  I asked the server and they said they brought me the one with alcohol in it.  I was furious and started crying!  That is something that should NEVER happen!


corri... corrinacs

I agree with you Munson, how is that practice even legal?  They could get into a ton of trouble for that, and can you imagine having providing alcohol to a minor for each and every child that happened to partake!!!  

dirti... dirtiekittie

this is why i do test what my kids get to drink at places out to eat - but we don't go out too often (in this economy? ha!). i get the idea behind what they were doing... there was probably a long wait and offering a small drink (condiment cup? it's not a big gulp, folks) was their way of easing up anxious patrons. i'm not excusing what they did - if they DID offer a drink, it should have been non-alcoholic, especially to waiting patrons that they haven't even id'ed. i'm sure there's some kind of fine involved with that, or at least i'd hope so!

and yeah, even if the server told her it was 'virgin', she should have checked - i think of it like asking for no onions on my burger. i asked, but sometimes they just put the onions on anyway.

hello... hellosugar

I agree that resturants should be more careful.  If you look at these original cases, it's not like they poured alcohol in kiddie cups, the parents ordered "virgin" drinks or the fancy mixed types that get served in bar glasses not kiddie cups.  As for the passing out alcoholic samples, before calling the server idiotic, I'd like to get the facts.  Did she know they were alcoholic or was she just told, "the crowd is getting restless, go pass these out to calm them down" without further details?  I feel bad for her if she got fired because she didn't think to ask the question assuming someone would tell her they were for adults only.  

Saying it's an alarming trend is riduculous, three seperate chains, three different servers out of thousands.  Anyone can make a mistake, but in this day and age we hear about it fast - especially if people smell money with a potential lawsuit. 

SandM... SandMsMama

hellosugar, get your facts straight! in the olive garden incident the boy asked for Orange juice, and at applebee's it was Apple juice! far cry from a Shirley temple... and either way, the bar tenders and servers should pay more attention to what's going on! I would be furious and hell yes I would file a law suit! you should do a little research on what alchohol can do to kids, then maybe you'd be a little more concerned

MaraJ... MaraJade27

Why all the implications that this was done on purpose? "Mistake" is in quotes...talking about how they should have carded people... I mean, if the server didn't think there was alcohol why would they card the person?? lol.

I agree this is an unfortunate mistake, but I won't use the quotes.  Accidents happen.

nonmember avatar supermom246

i always ask for a pepsi or water or ice tea

piggy... piggy11721

I don't get all this! I work in a bar grill and there is no way this could even happen. ONE....WE DON'T SERVE ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES IN THE SAME CUPS AS KID DRINKS!!! This is just plain ignorance!!!

piggy... piggy11721

MaraJade...If the server was serving the drinks....you don't think they should have known there was alcohol???? Still a stupid move on their part.


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