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Yelling Diner Owner Isn't Sorry for Lashing out at Toddler

The Short of It

At Marcy's Diner in downtown Portland, Maine, owner Darla Neugebauer chose to show no mercy toward a child who was crying and yelling during a recent visit.

The Lowdown

Neugebauer says the incident, which is now making national headlines, started over an order of pancakes. Apparently, the parents were not sharing their short stack with their 2-year-old table mate, and the toddler proceeded to have a fit that lasted for an hour. The diner owner says she asked the family to leave or take the child outside the restaurant, but those attempts didn't work. So, Neugebauer yelled at the tot, "This needs to stop!" and slammed her hands on the counter.

According to the irate restaurateur, the child immediately stopped acting out. But not surprisingly, mom Tara Carson was not happy about the way Neugebauer treated her toddler.

"Who in their right mind would behave like this unless you are deranged?" Carson wrote on the diner's Facebook page, claiming her child's yelling lasted only 10 minutes and that her behavior was nothing out of the norm.

That's when the oh-so-even-tempered diner owner took her fury online, responding, "After your 4th attempt to shut her up I asked you to pack up either your rotten child or take the so important pancakes to go. But NNNNOOOOOOO you just sit there & let your f—- [sic] screaming kid go! & piss off my staff & my patrons!...I have a business to run & yes I am f—ing [sic] crazy & you are lucky I didn't get really f—ing [sic] nuts because being physical is not something I cower from...."

Although many families who saw the exchange online or heard about what happened are saying they'll never eat at Mercy's Diner again, Neugebauer is not ashamed at lashing out at a child.

"Life's full of choices, and you've got live with all of them. I chose to yell at a kid. It made her shut up, which made me happy. It made my staff happy; it made the other 75 people dining here happy; and they left. They may never come back, and other people may not come in—their loss, really," she told WCSH-TV in Portland, Maine.

Neugebauer further admits she may have used poor judgment, but she isn't sorry for how she chose to handle the situation. For her part, Carson says she will use this as an example for her daughter of how adults should not act.



The Upshot

As a mom-of-three, I'm going to side with Carson. I would be horrified if a business owner took it upon herself to rudely and inappropriately discipline my child. It's also clear Neugebauer has no interest in acting professionally or serving people who don't agree with her approach to "customer service." It would be hard to support a business like that.

That being said, I do try to consider other diners when we take our young kids out to eat. If they're acting out for an extended period of time, I would most certainly remove them from the dining room. Still, mental note, if I'm ever in Maine, I won't be visiting Mercy's Diner. I'm too terrified!

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