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Are Bars Banning Babies?!

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In my area of NYC, more and more bars are instituting a baby ban. Is this an appropriate boundary for patrons -- or bad for business and anti-parent?

baby in bar

momlogic's Vivian: Last summer, my BFF Casey called me to vent. Turns out her family had been turned away from P.J. Hanley's, a long-established neighborhood bar/restaurant, because the place had decided to impose a stroller ban after 5 PM. Casey and her family had shown up to eat at 6.

"We've gone there so often and spent so much money in that place," she marveled, still stunned from being shunned from a place with an outdoor patio and very generous seating. "I mean, we were going to sit outside and there were tons of empty tables! How could anyone think this practice is good for business? It was so shortsighted. For the one more year we needed that stroller, they lost our business for good."

Even though our area of Brooklyn is as notorious for its stroller contingency as its brownstones, these baby/bar bans have been an ongoing heated debate in our neck of the woods for the past few years.

When another nearby bar called Union Hall instituted their baby ban, local chat rooms were inundated with posts from tons of folks on both sides of the issue. A bar called The Double Windsor followed suit this week with their own 5 PM stroller restriction, as was reported last week on yournabe.com:

"It's more of an issue between people that live in the neighborhood than it is with us," says bar co-owner -- and parent -- Jeff Switzer. "...We are parents like everyone else. But the bottom line is that this is a bar, and most of our customers feel like it's not an appropriate place for kids after hours." (The bar does welcome kids before 5 PM and even hosts mommy groups on occasion.)

As someone who frequents restaurants with her kids, I have some strong opinions on the topic. I've not yet been to Switzer's bar, so I'm not sure about the bar/restaurant ratio, but here's what I think in a nutshell:

Kids + bars = no
Kids + bar/restaurants = yes, at least until 7 or 8 PM

After all, most parents head home around then to put their rug rats to bed. But if food is 50 percent or more of your business, I believe that banning strollers after 5 PM might alienate a strong market-segment with a disposable income.

And what if all bars/restaurants instituted these policies? Don't chains like Houlihan's and TGI Fridays have bars? How much would their profit margins dip if they excluded parents after 5 PM? Would we be relegated to the McDonald's and Chuck E. Cheeses of the world?

Have any of you been booted out of an establishment because you're a breeder? Or are you against the concept of babies in bars? Please share your thoughts!


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21 comments so far | Post a comment now
chris February 23, 2010, 5:59 AM

If the place is more of a bar w/food than I approve of the ban. If it is more food w/a bar than I don’t think they should ban it ie…houlihans, TGIF etc. I know some of the “local” bars that I’ve gone to can get quite loud and rowdy as the night goes on and I would’nt want to see kids (of any age) in there even if they have great food.

Anonymous February 23, 2010, 6:18 AM

Why on earth would you bring a baby to a bar? And I’m all about the stroller ban in the bar section of ANY restaurant. The TGI Friday’s in my area does not allow strollers/babies/children in the bar area after 4pm.

Alisa Shtromberg February 23, 2010, 8:18 AM

I am a mother, and I love going to bars, by I must agree babies+ bar=NO!!!! Bars are meant to be a place to relax for adults not kids. If you are going to one, you are most likely to be staying there late AND drinking. In my opinion a parent should not be drinking while taking care of a child especially out of the house so why should you be bringing a child with you when you plan on relaxing and having a few drinks? This used not be an issue when smoking was allowed in bars, because no one would bring a child to an establishment where they would be exposed to second-hand smoking. You think drunk adults is any better for them? Stay home or get a babysitter.

Jennifer February 23, 2010, 8:23 AM

I’ve got to take the no kids allowed side, and I’m a mom of two. Frankly, when I pony up the bucks for a babysitter, it’s because I want an adult night out.

There are plenty of other options besides Chuck E. Cheese and McDonald’s if parents want to take their kids out for a meal.

c February 23, 2010, 8:24 AM

Bars are not for anyone under 21, period. Why can’t parents grab a bottle and head to a friend’s house or hire a sitter to watch a few babies in the afternoon? If you’ve got a baby or little kid should you really be drinking while they’re awake? And do you really need to bring your stroller along for a meal? There are loads of places that tolerate strollers and kids, sorry you’ve got a family now but that was your choice and there’s no reason to push that on a bunch of people in a bar/restaurant. Want to go to a bar or have a nice meal? Hire a sitter and go on your own.
Easy for me to say, I’ve got no kids.

Pamala February 23, 2010, 9:24 AM

I actually think the ban will improve business. See 5pm is typically when people get off work, so they’re clearing the bar for those people and might bring in more people who are looking to relax before going home, probably to their own children. WHy go to a bar if children are going to be there. Seems odd to me.

Stephanie February 23, 2010, 9:40 AM

I agree with no babies in the bar area but in the first example in the article (P.J. Hanley’s) the family tried to eat on the patio where there was nothing but restaurant-style tables. I see nothing wrong with having children in that part of a bar/restaurant. I have an infant and although I’d have no trouble being told I couldn’t bring my baby in the bar area of an establishment I’d have a big problem being told I couldn’t sit in the restaurant part of the establishment to have dinner with my husband with our baby asleep in his car seat next to us. I have no need for bars at this stage in my life but I do like to get out of the house to eat dinner from time to time. If every place that served alcohol instituted a ban like this we’d be left with fast food restaurants and that’s not ok. Even if they banned babies after 8pm from the restaurant area I’d be fine with that but 5pm-8pm are prime after work dinner hours for parents and non parents alike. Any establishment that “banned” me in this way would lose my business for life.

Black Iris February 23, 2010, 9:53 AM

But what if the problem is the strollers? Strollers can take up a lot of room and if there are too many it could be a safety hazard.

Anonymous February 23, 2010, 9:59 AM

Remember, There is a place and time for everything!!!!!

Anonymous February 23, 2010, 11:04 AM

In Saskatoon Sk friends from work asked me to bring my baby and meet them for lunch. We went to a resturant lounge and I was told I had to leave asap as they don’t allow young children and don’t have highchairs. This was a noon.

Gail Cooke February 23, 2010, 12:56 PM

I have to agree with other posters, why would you bring a baby or small child to a bar? Why would you expose them to that kind of thing…even in adult restaurants with bars, there’s inevitably drunk people…even at noon.

Stephanie February 23, 2010, 2:06 PM

So if a restaurant serves alcohol then parents of young children should never be allowed to eat there - even at noon? That’s ridiculous.

Allison February 23, 2010, 2:21 PM

I really don’t see how a parent sitting at a restaurant table with a child in the part of the restaurant that isn’t near the bar during the day and early evening is in any way inappropriate. I have no issue with babies not being allowed in the bar area and I have no issue with babies being banned from the restaurant area at night but keeping parents who have their kids with them from being allowed to have a nice, sit-down meal is definitely anti-parent in my book.

can't believe it February 23, 2010, 2:25 PM

I used to go to a bar where this couple would bring their baby in and let it sleep on the floor between their barstools. Unbelievable—- if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. SOME PEOPLE! Btw kid is now a 21 year old alcoholic. Go figure.

Anonymous February 24, 2010, 1:02 PM

no babies WAAAAAAAAA

ECP March 3, 2010, 12:49 PM

I think there needs to be a distinction, are we talking a bar or a restaurant that has a bar?? I’ve actually never seen a bar that didn’t serve food, has anyone else?? So if I want to eat at 7pm with my 2 and 3 year old I should have to go to Chuck E Cheese and not a local restaurant, I don’t get it! What if I’m going for the food not to drink alcohol??

JD March 3, 2010, 12:54 PM

Why don’t people just raise their own kids and not worry about what other people are doing with their children?? Why does everyone have the right to judge everyone’s decisions theses days.
If the baby is bother you ok fine but if the baby is sitting quietly in the stroller why should you be allowed to get in the parents business.
Why can’t we all just lay off of each other! Geez!

Andrea March 10, 2010, 4:52 AM

As a bartender I am always shocked when parents bring their young children into a bar. Parents need to realize that most people act a certain way in a bar atmosphere. I am guilty of being inappropriate in front of children while working only because I’m not used to their presence.

Sylvie March 22, 2010, 9:09 PM

I would like to repeat what the poster said about the ban being on strollers, not babies!!! I don’t see why babies can’t be carried or seated in a car seat.

However, if a restaurant did ban babies, it would be up to them. They know what is appropriate for their own environment and atmosphere. A restaurant with a very busy atmosphere, rushing wait staff, heavy plates, scalding food, or any number of factors, is not a place for a baby anyway.

As for bars…bars are not pubs, and not particularly family oriented.

Amaryllis March 31, 2010, 8:50 AM

I don’t think a baby should be in a bar even at noon time. People often stand at bars, strollers are a hazard, and a baby that gets away from its parents could get trampled. At a table parents have much more control over what their child is doing, because even in a crowded restaurant no one is encroaching on your table space.

That being said, I think it should be up to the business owner whether or not he wants to allow babies or young children inside at any time of the day.

Unless the restaurant makes the majority of its money from families, banning children will probably result in more revenue for the restaurant, and if it doesn’t then it will be up to the owner to decide if he or she wants to change the policy.

If a parent decides that they don’t want to patronize a restaurant with those types of rules, well, that’s their right!


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