A restaurant that my husband and I frequent has changed its main policy. There is a neatly typed sign on their door that states this change. No, they haven't gone formal attire only or raised their prices. You can still BYOB and they're still open until 1:00 a.m. So what's different?
It is their child-friendly policy that has changed. The sign reads: "No children under the age of 12 are permitted after 6:00 p.m."
The restaurant isn't the only place where I've noticed this new type of policy. There is also a local movie theatre that prohibits children during the "adult hours" which they classify as starting at 7:00 p.m. There seems to be a growing trend or backlash from formerly child-friendly places. They are either limiting the hours when they will allow children or not permitting children at all.
And that's a good policy.
The owner of my favorite restaurant, when asked, told me that he found he was losing customers because of the presence of children during the later dinner hours. When I said that my husband and I had never seen children misbehaving or causing a problem, he told me that behavior wasn't necessarily the problem.
"Adults need their own time alone without children present," he said. I have to agree.
I love children and our own girls have been going to restaurants since they were babies. But, truthfully, we always limited the time we dined as a family to a child-friendly dinner hour of 5:00. It worked well for us and for them. They weren't overtired or hungry. It was for their own sake as well as for the sake of adult diners that made us choose what we felt was an appropriate time for them. Let me add that we did take them to the finer restaurants also, not just kid-friendly places, but we still chose an age-appropriate hour.
In the news recently La Fisheria, a restaurant in Houston posted this message:
"After 7:00 p.m., people over 8-years-old only. We are a family friendly restaurant, but we also respect all of our customers... thanks for your understanding."
La Fisheria is just the latest eatery to establish a kids-free zone. This policy was initiated by the known frustration of adult customers. Many were upset at having their special, expensive dinners ruined by a children who misbehaved.
A few years ago virtually every place you could name was child friendly. Certainly there were times when it was very inappropriate to bring a child to these places but it seemed as if children "ruled." Today the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction and more and more adults are voicing their opinions that some times and places should be reserved for grown-ups only.
The way to change the minds of businesses to accommodate the adult population is the same method once used to insist on child friendly places -- money spent. Since a party of adults will spend considerably more than a family bringing small children, management will cater to adults. Restaurants and entertainment centers risk losing revenue if they don't bend to their clientele's wishes.
There is nothing wrong with limiting the "children's hour." It has been done for years in live theatre. Theatre-goers are requested not to bring children under a certain age to a play or musical, (save for some Disney venues), and no one has a problem with that.
As a parent, I understand the need to bring children with us to a place where they will be welcomed. As an adult, I appreciate having a place where my husband, our friends, and I can get away from all children, including our own.
Everyone needs their own space and their own time. Maybe it's a good thing that not all places, at all times, are child accommodating.
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