Adult-Friendly Restaurants: No Kids Allowed

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 keyKids 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!

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    • ForeverGulls
    • April 24, 2017

    Oooh, this was a good one! I do not appreciate when parents let their children go feral in a public place, especially restaurants where people are trying to relax and eat or lately it’s been my local nail salon (seriously, your 3 year old does not need an effing pedicure) Sorry for my outburst, but I am paying good money to have a quiet and relaxing experience, I don’t want to be forced to listen to your kid wailing or playing with a loud toy.

    If my hubby and I go to a place like Applebee’s or Carrabba’s, it’s to be expected there will be families there and that’s totally ok. Plus the space inside those restaurants is plentiful and if there was a particularly noisy group we could always move our table. But at upscale smaller places that serve adult meals and alcohol, we want to have a quiet, relaxing experience away from boistrous children. Neither of us like little kids or infants although Jon has better patience than I. It is very inappropriate to expect children, especially small ones, to behave quietly in a place where they obviously aren’t welcome. Those parents are extremely rude who drag their kids to places like that.

    1. Thank you! I agree. We more or less expect children at casual chain restaurants and therefore don’t raise an eyebrow at a tantruming toddler. However when you go to a nice restaurant, you’re not just paying for the food but also for the ambiance. If there were to be screaming/crying, that atmosphere would change quite drastically.

    • 30 & childfree
    • April 24, 2017

    Great post! I think childfree spaces need to become more common – and not just for the benefit of the childfree, but for the PARENTS. Frazzled parents need spaces where they can go and not have to listen to Caillou blaring on a mac & cheese smudged iPad. Caillou is the WORST.

    Side note: I think it’s great that you’re childfree and work with kids! I’m in the same boat. I love kids. Kids are hilarious. It’s the Being A Parent part I don’t think I’d love. Being a nanny gives me most of the benefits, with way fewer of the drawbacks.

    1. Thanks 🙂 Childfree spaces are so few and far between, I hope it changes soon! Like you said, not just for those of us without children but for parents who need a night out.

      Kids are hilarious for sure. I’ve nannied in the past as well and had such a blast. The beauty of caring for children who are not your own is the ability to hand them back at the end of your shift and come back the following day refreshed.

    • Kathleen
    • April 24, 2017

    I absolutely agree with your post. My husband and I have adult children now, but still remember having our “date night” spoiled when we ate our romantic supper while someone’s 2 year old ran around the tables to the tune of his parents and grandparents loudly discussing his toilet habits. Really? Even now, we will go to a pricey restaurant specializing in amazing cocktails only to find young children and their oblivious parents at the surrounding tables. I quizzed my co-workers, and they replied, “That’s W.. ton Twp, for you.” They were insinuating we should expect that in an area where people have expendable income and are of a me-first generation-mindset, I guess. No young children allowed restaurants would certainly have our votes and patronage.

    1. Thanks! I’m happy to hear your point of view. It seems very out of place when there are children running around an expensive restaurant, doesn’t it? If some restaurants became childfree, I think many customers (with and without children) would appreciate it.

    • Larry
    • May 7, 2017

    Love the child free movement. My sisters and I were at a local Red Robin restaurant for brunch right after our mother passed. Kid banged into us and put his hands in the food. I reached down and pinched the living hell out of him. He yelled OW and ran away.

    1. Yikes, I’m hoping Red Robin replaced your meal! Also, I’m sorry for your loss. Thank you for commenting Larry.

    • Martha
    • June 6, 2017

    I’ve had countless meals spoiled by children that I don’t have. I deliberately avoid chains like Olive Garden or Red Robin. Despite that, I still have to deal with shrieking children at places you’d never imagine taking a child. For example: sushi restaurants. Why would a child want sushi? Or bars. Why would a child want to be in a bar or around drunk people? Its not just toddlers, I’ve seen newborns at bars too. Its getting ridiculous and bar owners need to take stand.

    1. Martha,

      Children in bars just makes zero sense! You’re right, bar owners need to say something. I think there is a fear of losing business but as is the case with Caruso’s mentioned in this article, business can actually improve!

    • Lori
    • July 22, 2017

    When researching places for my husband and I to dine alone if I spot a “kid’s menu” I pass, but make a mental note that we could consider it at a later date when dinning out with our family members who have kids. It’s not socially acceptable for parents t take their kid into a yoga class, a cigar store, or a spa for a massage appointment and those businesses don’t face any type of backlash so restaurants shouldn’t either for deciding what type of clientele they want to cater to.

    1. Lori, that’s a great idea! And I agree, there are just certain places that are not family-friendly and that is okay and even preferred. Soon after I posted this article, a friend of mine was outraged that an upscale restaurant didn’t have high chairs. Makes me shake my head. Not every place is suitable for a baby, just as not every place is suitable for a romantic date night.

      • Wendi
      • January 30, 2018

      This is what makes me giggle. Kids are everywhere in our town. Yoga and bars, spas and high-end eateries. Everywhere.

    • Wendi
    • January 30, 2018

    Our town is college kids and families. By families I of course don’t mean childfree couples, no one else considers us a family.

    Even our bars have kids menus. Every stinking restaurant in our town has a kids menu. The places where I have seen a lack of children are full up with loud college students. It’s no win for us.

    We started going out to eat super early – 11am for lunch, 5pm dinner – just to ensure we can find parking (a whole other conversation about our town). It’s honestly the best time for us to not be around a whole lot of screaming children (ages 0-25). It doesn’t sound romantic but it helps in our childfree unfriendly town.

    1. Great points, Wendi! My husband and I have been trying to find more childfree-friendly places to dine in our town as well. Even if restaurants just had two hours a night or specific days/evenings that were kidfree, I’d be thrilled! My husband and I have been going out to eat the last few years on Halloween and there are never any kids in sight so, at least there’s once a year 😉 Ugh!

    • Q
    • April 2, 2018

    Oh my gosh, this is such a hot topic for me. And why I spend most of my weekends at home with the husband. We are so sick of dining out around loud children and oblivious parents. Or going to breweries or pubs with lots of kids. Don’t even get me started on movie theaters, small children given a phone to play with and be entertained. Why are parents oblivious? They have to be, they’ve learned to tune out their children. The rest of us, not so much. We’ve even tried to go to a restaurant late at night, around 9 or 10, and I’ve seen a toddler child in diapers holding a bottle, I KNOW it’s past that kid’s bedtime. You don’t have to take a parenting class to know that. Rude.

    Anyway, my peeve with finding “adult friendly” places is even if you do find it, it’s super expensive. I’m not into the whole fine dining thing because I feel it’s mostly over priced. I shouldn’t have to overpay to find a kid-free place to eat once in awhile. I live nearish that Caruso’s, close enough that I would make a special drive for a night out without kids, I checked out the website. Lovely. But it’s a bit on the expensive side. So I guess I’ll just stick with cooking at home. I’m an excellent cook, if I do say so myself, and have ruined myself for several of my old restaurant favorites because I learned how to make them better at home. And at home…there are no kids.

    1. It is so frustrating that sometimes our only option for childfree dining is to stay in, isn’t it? I can understand what you mean about overpriced childfree dining, too. You have to pay a premium just to avoid kids. I recently booked a cruise and I already know I’m going to end up paying extra for the adults-only deck or spa to have some silence. Shouldn’t have to be that way, though!

        • Louise
        • December 18, 2018

        So frustrating for those of us who grew up when children did kids stuff and would never be drug along to places where adults hung out. Any good teacher or parent knows that kids do NOT enjoy adult activities., nor should they be expected to. Dragging kids to bars is for the convenience of themselves not the benefit of their children.

    • Coastal Cat
    • November 25, 2018

    US resident (east coast, city dweller) here. DH and I have had numerous “nice” meals (price range $150-$250 and up for two people) ruined by screaming kids with oblivious parents over the years – two in the last two months. Two hours of the Howling Infant Serenade during a milestone birthday dinner, toddler tantrum and rude parents screaming at the server at a wine bar, you name it. Staff are afraid of offending the parents, so they don’t intervene, and parents can’t be bothered. We’re CF, but our friends who do have kids say exactly what you stated – that when they dine out, especially at a pricey place, they want peace and quiet just as we do. Here’s another spot to add to your list of recs: Bob Bob Ricard in London. Exquisite food and decor, great staff, and no kids under 13 allowed. Best anniversary dinner ever.

    1. Hey there Coastal Cat! I apologize for my super delayed response, I was on a bit of a blogging break for a time. Expensive restaurant + screaming children = agony. Thank you for adding another restaurant to the list!

    • L
    • December 18, 2018

    Just spoke with new owner of bar/restaurant in small town. I mentioned babies I had seen in Baby Bjorns at bars in city where I came from and not in a sympathetic way. He jumped in to say oh, yes, his new bar would be just like that to “teach kids how to socialize.” Absolutely tone deaf to the fact that I was opposed and part of the majority demographic in this small town (over 65, educated, money to spend in restaurant/bars) and definitely not 100% in favor of his kid friendly bar experience. I and many others will stay home.

    1. Noooo, kid-friendly bars are, and should be, an oxymoron! Thanks for your comment, Louise.

    • Mike
    • January 22, 2019

    Finally more and more people have te need of a childrenfree ‘world’. It’s not that i hate children but i can’t stand the proximity of children. They ruin my pleasure in having fun while i’m enjoying eating in a restaurant, the beach, walking in the nature and so on. Children are noisy and they don’t care about the invirement. I say: more adult only area’s in the world! And birthcontrol so the world wil not go to waste!

    1. Woohoo for a childfree world! 😉 Thanks for your comment, Mike!

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