“Mom, Why Are There So Many Forks?”

Brennan’s offers restaurant etiquette classes for children
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Remember summer vacation from school? Maybe you were looked after by a neighbor lady and had 15 other kids to make up games with, or maybe you went to a different day camp every week to explore your art, music and athletic talents. Even if you had to go to summer school, it was only part of the summer, and you still had weeks at a time where your only responsibilities were your chores.

For kids, summer is bliss. For parents, summer is a game of Tetris, trying to fill the days with supervised activities and dreaming of the summer when your kid is finally responsible enough to be left home alone (probably never).

One new children’s activity available in New Orleans this year is Brennan’s Summer Manners Class. The series of individual classes are planned for Tuesdays in June and July from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Brennan’s Restaurant, located at 417 Royal Street.

Recommended for children ages 5-8 who must be accompanied by an adult, each class includes a three-course breakfast, hands-on table setting, presentation of Top Ten Manners by a Brennan’s expert, as well as a meet and greet with Brennan’s famous turtles.

“We have found that these introductory manners classes give children the confidence they need to feel comfortable in any setting – from dining at home, at school or in a restaurant,” says a Brennan’s spokesperson. “We teach them basic tools they can use throughout their lives, on their first date or at a job interview.”

Brennan’s has been offering free field trips to kindergarten and first grade students from schools in the greater New Orleans area. Those garnered positive feedback and growing demand from parents, so the restaurant wanted to bring the manners classes to the public. The restaurant recognized that parents are looking for fun and educational activities when children are out of school, so they planned the classes for the summer.

During the class, manners are taught to the children by way of the Brennan’s Turtles mascots. The turtles are the narrators of the keepsake Brennan’s manners books given to all children enrolled in the class. The human leader of the classes is Christian Pendleton, Brennan’s general manager and in-house etiquette expert.

The students will learn how Brennan’s sets the table and then practice setting the table themselves. I was informed they will also “learn the general tradition and gesture of doing something nice for someone who took the time to prepare you a nice meal,” which I think means to buy mom flowers and tip your servers, but I’m not sure. They are then guided to a different room where the tables are set for breakfast. They will go through the manners book as a group, and then practice using their manners during a three-course breakfast.

The spokesperson said, “For many students we learned it was their first time in a fine dining restaurant, and by guiding them through these classes they feel much more comfortable and confident.”

Brennan’s also pointed out that the most important manner isn’t to be found in the manners book, but is something the staff at the restaurant practices every day – making a guest feel welcomed and comfortable. When hosting someone at your home, as long as you make your guest feel comfortable, they will enjoy their meal and your company — and maybe not judge you for not using cloth napkins.

The children’s three-course breakfast includes biscuits for the table, fresh seasonal fruit, buttermilk pancakes with a side of bacon, vanilla ice cream and the beverage is a choice of milk, orange juice or apple juice. The adult’s three-course breakfast includes biscuits for the table, fresh seasonal fruit, Eggs Hussarde: housemade English muffins, coffee cured Canadian bacon, hollandaise and Marchand De Vin sauce, and for dessert you will be forced to share the Praline Leidenheimer Bread Pudding with your child (if they are anything like mine). The adult beverage included in the meal is a choice of soda, iced tea or coffee, and Bloody Mary’s and mimosas are available for additional purchase.

Tickets are $25 for children and $45 for adults and must be purchased in advance online. Tickets are still available for each of the classes, but space is limited and some are nearly sold out. The ticket price includes tax and gratuity. Attendees should bring their tickets to the host stand upon arrival. The remaining dates in the series are June 25, July 2, July 9, July 16, July 23 and July 30.

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