There’s a new sushi place opening in a trendy area of Alexandria, Virginia, not far from where I live. Not a big surprise there because, like I said, it’s a trendy spot. The Del Ray neighborhood is full of scrumptious little locally owned gems. It’s a big reason why people choose to live there. But what makes this sushi joint different is it’s policy on kids: No one under age 18 allowed.
The owner explains his choice in the Huffington Post:
Owner Mike Anderson, who has three children himself, told Today.com that the policy was meant to offer a break for “helicopter parents.” The restaurant plans to enforce the ban through a small sign on the front door, and the front of the house staff will also inform unaware parties. He’s not going to go crazy with enforcement, though. “We’re not going to call the police,” he said.
Now, I’m pretty sure helicopter parents are not going to patronize the kind of restaurant that won’t permit their kids to come along. That’s what makes them helicopter parents, after all. But who will go to a restaurant where not kids are allowed? Will it, as the owner suggests, appeal to parents who want to get away from the kids – all the kids in the world, actually – for the night? Or if this the kind of place that mainly caters to the childless anyway?
I asked some local residents how they feel about this new 18-and over spot. My friend and Virginia resident, Caffeine and a Prayer blogger J.J. is of a mind that a totally kid-free date night is a good thing:
As a parent, I wouldn’t want to see this become a wide-sweeping trend as I think it is important to take kids out so they learn good restaurant manners. But on the rare nights when I go out with my husband, I’ll admit that it is my preference to be seated away from families with small children. Lots of children behave well in restaurants, my own included, but many are overly tired or bored and become fussy, and when we’re on a date, I can’t help but sympathize with the situation and it doesn’t make for a relaxing date experience. It will be interesting to see if this business strategy succeeds.
My friend Christina of the travel blog My View From The Middle Seat is a non-parent who lives walking distance from the new restaurant. I checked with her about it and she was excited to try it but not just because of the no child policy. Moreover, she doesn’t see kids as a real problem in restaurants anyway:
We’re going there tonight – it’s right up the street from our house! It’s getting rave reviews for high quality, well priced sushi and, as a DINK who lives in a kid-friendly neighborhood, I’m excited to have a place to escape. That being said, I love all the little tots in our ‘hood. It was a conscious choice to move into a very kid-friendly place when we don’t have kids.
Truth be told, most of the places in Del Ray, although they’re kid friendly, if you eat when we do (7:30pm or later), there aren’t many kids in sight.
But Maryland resident Stephanie of Stephanie Says sees things a little differently:
Replace ‘child’ with any other classification of person and see how well it goes over. This is a slippery slope!
Stephanie’s slippery-slope argument has a lot of merit when you consider that most child bans are really a ban on child-like behavior. It’s not the small child that anyone wants to avoid, it’s the noise or mess that kids often bring with them. But if that’s really what a restauranteur is trying to keep out, then they’re also risking looping in people with a wide variety of disabilities that can manifest behaviorally. Any parent of a special needs child will talk about the difficulties restaurants pose to their kids but restaurants can be a lot of fun for special needs families and provide good learning experiences for the kids if everyone around them is willing to be a little patient.
One of the interesting things that jumped out at me about this particular age-limit was the fact that it included teens. While I’ve heard of restaurants that exclude children before, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a policy that specifically excludes teens. I can only assume that the 18 year old cut-off wasn’t meant to keep away a high school student out to dinner with parents but groups of teens going out to eat without adults. I’m envisioning a situation where a group of teens makes a disturbance, a restaurant manager asks them to leave, a helicopter parent witha law degree and access to a neighborhood listserv could make things real ugly for the restaurant owner. I can see how avoiding that would be tempting to a business owner.
In the end, the restaurant owner has set his course and it remains to be seen whether or not his place will thrive. I won’t be eating there because I don’t like sushi but my own sentiments echo what my friend Amanda of the blog Dudemom says:
As a parent, there are certain places I won’t take my children because I don’t think that they are appropriate for it or it for them. I wish other parents, who know their children’s limits, would behave similarly so that those individuals who choose not to have children or who just don’t want to be bothered wouldn’t look at all of us negatively when they have a horrible child-based experience. I don’t begrudge this establishment for wanting to set a certain tone for their restaurant. I may not be dining there anytime soon, but I’m probably not their target market anyway.
What do you think? Would you patronize a restaurant that bans all kids?
Photo credit: Photo stock