Should Buffet Restaurants Charge Children By Their Height?

Categories: News
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Short kids may not get picked first on the basketball court but at several Asian buffet restaurants, they get cheaper meals. 

It's a longstanding practice: When a child walks in, he's forced to stand next to a ruler on the wall. An employee then determines how much his parents must pay for the meal. Taller kids get charged more than shorter kids based on an assumption that they'll likely eat more. 

To some parents, this makes no sense at all. 

"It's discrimination," says a Newport Beach resident named Linda (who does not wish for her last name to be published). "They might as well charge by weight." 

She complained at a number of Asian seafood restaurants throughout Orange County--Makino Sushi Buffet in Irvine, Todai in Orange and Hokkaido Seafood Buffet in Newport Beach--after her 9-year-old son was given a price based on his height. He's 3-foot-7.

"It's not a doctor's office so why do they have to get measured?" Linda says. "They say that some parents lie about their kids' ages. Do they question the elderly when they ask for senior citizen discounts? What if a child is just tall?"

Yelp reviewer Shaun K. claimed that at the Hokkaido Seafood Buffet location in Long Beach, when his three girls did not reach the desired height, employees "physicality tried to stretch them to make them taller." 

"I wanted to hurt these people for touching my kids," he wrote. 

During lunch at Todai, meals are $8.48 for kids under 5 feet, $6.95 for those under 4 feet and $4.95 for those under 3 feet. At Makino, there are similar scales. Kids over a certain height--5 feet at Todai and Makino and 55 inches at Hokkaido--are charged as adults. A host at Todai explained that the pricing scale is necessary because "there's no way of proving ages." At chain restaurants such as Hometown Buffet and Souplantation, however, all kids are charged a set price.     

According to a blog called The Art of the Buffet, there is no state law that prohibits basing price on height. 

Kids, this is the one and only time when slouching is okay.

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