Some new restaurants have been popping up in my area. When you live in a small town like I do, that’s a big deal. One in particular is a bar that specializes in wood fire oven pizzas, small plates, and of course alcohol. We read some good reviews and thus my husband Colin and I decided to check it out. After filling ourselves to the brim with risotto balls and spicy shrimp, we left fat and happy but even still, something left a bad taste in our mouths; about one-third of the patrons brought their children.
At this point, you may be wondering if I hate children. Although no childless or childfree person should have to justify his/her decision not to have kids, I am an over-explainer by nature so I feel compelled to clarify. I don’t dislike children, I actually really love them. I work full-time with young kids. At social functions, you’ll more than likely find me kissing on babies than socializing with my peers. My decision to be childfree was always more about not wanting to become a parent than it was about not wanting to have children.
But here we are – my husband and I shaking our heads as we exit the restaurant.
“Why would parents take their kids to a bar?” Colin asks me knowing full well neither one of us is truly qualified to give an answer. In the safety of our own vehicle, we do as is human nature and judge. It’s wrong I know, I’m working on it.
Now, Colin doesn’t hate children. If anything, he leans more toward apathy. He laughs when I relate the funny experiences of my days at work and he cringes at the more grotesque aspects of my job, like the unfortunate bathroom accidents and the occasional gory injury.
“It’s not fun for the kids,” I add. It is a pet peeve of mine when adults consistently force children to attend adult functions. I don’t mean grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, and those unavoidable obligations we all hate. I mean parents who drag their two-year-old to weekly date nights, keeping the child out well past his/her bed time in an adult atmosphere. It shouldn’t come as a big surprise to any of us when such kids throw Oscar-worthy tantrums. When parents set their children up to fail and then berate them for failing, who is really to blame?
Caruso’s, a restaurant in North Carolina, is currently dealing with some blow-back after banning small children. Many childfree men and women support this decision, myself included. Yes, I love kids but this really doesn’t have anything to do with that.
“I had several customers complain, get up and leave because children were bothering them, and the parents were doing nothing.”
-Pasquale Caruso, owner of Caruso’s : Mooresville Tribune
And the parents were doing nothing. I think this is the key. Kids will be kids- you can take that to the bank. Parents should be parents but you can’t put your money on that. This is why I support childfree venues like Caruso’s. Yes, there will still be parents but from a distance, they will be virtually indistinguishable from the rest. The identifying mark of either good or bad parenting will simply not be evident.
If you were to google this mid-atlantic restaurant, you’d see the words “No Children’s Menu Available” at the onset of the description. This is of course a clear indicator of a childfree establishment. It’s also what Colin and I failed to look for until after we left the local bar. Turns out our trendy new pub has a kids’ menu. Well, no wonder there were so many kids.
At first, I felt pretty silly for not noticing this on the website or even the menu handed to me by the hostess, but then I got to thinking – any reasonable person, parent or not, would surely equate a bar with an adult scene. But what happens when said bar starts catering to children? What was clear is now murky. What was unconscionable is now acceptable, even recommended.
It wouldn’t be fair to fault the parents since the restauranteur is in essence inviting them. This is just another reason I will support Pasquale Caruso and others who have made similar decisions. Perhaps many more restaurant owners would like to follow his example but are scared of starting controversy or losing business. However, many eateries report better business post-ban. The thing is – you don’t have to be rude, you don’t have to be childfree (Caruso has two children), but you do have to take a stand if you want an adult-friendly environment. Not only will the childfree support your decision, but so will parents looking for a night out sans children. In the spirit of the creepy talking cornfield in Field of Dreams, if you ban it, we will come.
If you’re looking for some additional childfree venues, click here.
Do you agree or disagree with my opinion on childfree dining? Comment below!