Twelve year olds can appear much older, I am amazed at some kids who seem to be fifteen and turn out to be twelve. On the other hand, I have known adults get away with a child's meal in a restaurant because the staff haven't noticed, or commented, that there is no child in the group. It does seem that there needs to be a clear notice on entry and families could informed before they are seated whether they qualify for children's meals. Very often the answer could be to by a "share meal" for a family, so the price is reasonable and children, of any age do not have to have adult sized portions.
Curiosity got the better of me and did a quick search. If it,s the all you can eat buffet restaurant and they did not go for a set meal I would agree with the restaurant. I've seen children eat more than an adult.
Does it really matter,what age you are,a childs meal should be available to anyone.I often buy a childs meal if i am a bit peckish but do not want a full size meal. What's the problem with that, Unless it's one of the all you can eat for a set price offers.
Our nearest all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant has a height based pricing policy, clearly displayed at the entrance. The restaurant at the Chinese in this story say they have a similar policy, also displayed at the entrance.
If they did not bother to read the notice, or thought they should be treated differently to everyone else, then they have only themselves to blame for the girl's embarrassment.
I work in the restaurant business, and frequently see adults eating childrens meals and desserts. Most commonly it is the older people that maybe cannot stomach a whole meal.
We have never turned a customer down, as children/the elderly nearly always bring others, and thus more custom. We don't want the bad publicity, and we make a profit off the kids meals too. As well as it being downright rude to refuse a customer what they want, its bad business sense on many levels.
We take our 8 and 11 year old grandchildren to many restaurants and always have 2 adult and 2 childrens meals. The kids eat the enormous adult portions whilst we eat the smaller kids meals. The staff always giggle and we all enjoy the joke which of course is why we use the restaurant again. Good business practice.