The way Amy Kaplan sees it, a Commack sushi restaurant's pricing policy for children has reached a new low.
Kaplan, of Dix Hills, said Sushi Park on Jericho Turnpike wanted to charge her daughter, Nikki, 11, full price when the family went out for dinner on Jan. 18.
But it wasn't Nikki's age that made her ineligible for a half-price children's meal. It was her height.
Sushi Park measures children to determine the price of their meals. Children are told to stand next to a giraffe poster with a ruler when they enter.
Height-based pricing appears to be relatively rare on Long Island. Though the manager of a Huntington buffet said the policy is common in Manhattan, state consumer officials and a restaurant industry spokesman contacted by Newsday said they had never heard of the practice.
Children more than 4 1/2-feet tall pay full price at Sushi Park. Kids 3 1/2 feet to 4 1/2 feet pay half price. Children under 3 1/2 feet eat free. The weekday full price dinner is $19.95, according to the restaurant.
Nikki Kaplan stands 4-foot-8, her mother said.
"We didn't stay," Amy Kaplan said. "I became indignant and asked to see the manager. ... I asked, 'Do you really feel that if my daughter is tall that she's going to eat more?'"
The manager referred Kaplan to a woman he identified as the owner, who did not speak English, Kaplan said. Repeated attempts to reach Sushi Park's owner were unsuccessful.
Kaplan's complaint, first reported Saturday on newsday.com, drew the attention of the "Dr. Phil" show. Kaplan said she wasn't sure whether she would consent to being on the show.
One restaurant that uses height in pricing children's meals, East Buffet and Restaurant in Huntington, adopted the practice two years ago after charging half price for children between 3 and 10 years old, said manager Kevin Kong. Pricing by age "just makes things a little difficult for my employees to determine who should be charged as a child and who should be charged as an adult," Kong said.
He said some customers are less than candid about their children's ages: "Sometimes," Kong said, "the child is like 6 feet tall and they say he's 10 years old." He added, "I'm not saying they're lying."
Kong said the height policy is "flexible" if customers complain. "If they say it's a child, OK, it's a child," he said.
Many restaurant managers said they'd never heard of the practice and it would be bad for business.
Amy Kaplan said the state Division of Human Rights told her state law does not prohibit pricing based on height but she is asking state legislators to change the law.
Nikki "eats like a bird," Amy Kaplan said. "She doesn't even like sushi."
This kinda crap frosts my nads. A business has the right to refuse service to kids if they want to. Obviously, the word of honor required by customers when an age requirement was used didn't satisfy the management. A bigger kid is gonna eat more.
What if I want to retire early? So what if I'm too young - that shouldn't hinder me from realizing the lifestyle I could become accustomed to with some sweet Social Security bucks rolling in. Makes as much sense.