Full disclosure: As a mom of two, I would love to ban my own children from restaurants; but unfortunately, the going rate of babysitters these days is just about the same or more than dinner for two at my favorite eatery.
Okay, so maybe I’m kidding about the banning part, but I’m not kidding about the babysitting rates — those are seriously out of control.
Even though it sometimes pains me to take our kids out to dinner with us (because I’d love to enjoy my meal without listening to constant bickering or getting up to take one of them to the bathroom every 10 minutes) we go anyway, because spending time together as a family is important. And as parents, we also want to teach our kids how to behave in public.
But it looks like one Tampa Bay, Florida restaurant has had enough of the screaming, the yelling, the whining, and the chicken nugget-flinging that often comes with the territory of bringing kids out to eat. So much so, that they’ve banned children altogether from their establishment. At first, local moms were not pleased at first — especially those who’d become regulars.
Last week, the Tampa Bay Moms Group shared a photo taken outside the Hampton Station bar and restaurant, which read simply: “No Children.”
Now, just to clarify, the Hampton Station is a beer garden that, according to its website, “specializes in the best German and American Craft Brews.” So it’s not like they’re passing out crayons and kids menus with their Dunkelweizen specials. This isn’t what you’d call the most kid-friendly spot in Tampa. Still, parents who’ve been taking their families to the restaurant for years aren’t happy that they now have one less local eatery to take their kids.
“No children. All caps. The biggest font, at the top of the door,” wrote one commenter. “All after gladly accepting money from families for two years. Rude,” wrote a user from Tampa named Matt K. “The owner is entitled to his opinion. ‘No Children Please’ would suffice. Have some class. Have some manners.”
According to an update on the post, however, the restaurant claims there were several prior incidents where children were “endangering themselves and other patrons” with their behavior (though what that exactly entailed isn’t so clear, and Hampton Station has yet to reply to Babble’s requests for a comment). From a liability standpoint, the beer garden management ultimately felt that it “just couldn’t live with the fact that a child might get hurt at Hampton,” which sounds pretty fair, if you ask me.
Owner Troy Taylor recently spoke to the Tampa Bay Times about his decision, and while he wouldn’t get into specifics about the incident that sparked the ban, he did admit it was the result of “a lot of people who couldn’t keep their kids under control,” and the fact that the outdoor patio has tables situated next to a busy road with heavy traffic.
“It’s one of the toughest things I’ve ever done,” Taylor told the Times. “It’s been gut-wrenching. I’m not a big social media person, but I’ve stayed away from Facebook.”
Honestly, as much as it sucks to be banned from anywhere, I get it. I mean, let’s be real: Should parents really be taking kids to bars, anyway? Or restaurants where alcohol is the main event? Sure, getting a babysitter isn’t always easy, and everyone has the right to let loose and have a few drinks on a Friday night or weekend, but do babies and kids really belong in these kinds of places?
By the looks of the Facebook comments this post is getting, it seems like more than a few people are on my side.
“Don’t like it? Don’t eat there … ” wrote one user.
“I’m a mom of three boys and this makes me want to eat there,” wrote another. “Having a nice relaxing lunch/dinner without hearing children screaming or misbehaving while their parents sit there and do nothing sounds wonderful to me.”
Other users had some slightly stronger words, though.
“I have worked in restaurants for over 20 years and I think this is a great policy,” wrote one Tampa resident. “The reason is simple, parents don’t control their children and let them run around like it is a playground. If a child can’t behave in a restaurant then the parents shouldn’t be bringing them out to eat, get take out. Not all children act in this way but far more [do] than what most people think.”
Hmm … while the “parents don’t control their children” argument is definitely a touchy one, I can see their point. And as one user pointed out, this policy is actually pro-parents, if you think about it.
“Kudos to this establishment,” wrote the local. “Every parent needs a place to go for a bite to eat and a beer without kids running around.”
Amen to that.