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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

"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
Amaryllis March 31, 2010, 8:51 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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