Okay, here’s the scene: It is about 6 p.m. on Friday night and I have met a group of friends at a popular chain restaurant and bar to celebrate someone’s birthday. When I arrive, part of the group is shooting pool while the rest sit on bar stools, chatting. Enter my pal, who is carrying his 17-month-old son. His wife is working late, but if she was off, I know they would have probably brought their boy anyway.
The bar takes up about half of the restaurant, with the rest dedicated to sit-down dining space. The two areas are separated by a half-wall. As you know, there is no longer smoking in most bars and restaurants in Virginia, and this restaurant is no exception.
Not long after my friend came in with the baby, the waitress approached him and told him the child was not allowed in the bar area. More specifically, she said “Children who are not old enough to sit on bar stools are not allowed in the bar. Kids under the age of 8 are not allowed in the bar.” After a few moments of brief confusion (can’t 5- or 6-year-olds sit on a bar stool?), I joined my child-toting pal on the other side of the divider for one beer before the whole gang decided to relocate to a friend’s house and order pizza. We hadn’t planned on staying for more than a beer or two anyway, but the rule caused us to leave a bit earlier than we had planned.
Since I don’t have children myself, I had never been in this situation. It fascinates me because I wonder if the rule was developed to protect the child or the other patrons? Shouldn’t parents get to decide what’s right or wrong for their kid? I guess I could totally see other patrons getting annoyed if they are out having an adult time and a baby starts crying or is allowed to run around the bar area willy-nilly.
Apparently, these rules have caused quite an uproar in other communities. CNN did an interesting story on bars in Brooklyn that forbade parents from bringing in little ones. Click the link and have a look-see. There are a lot of different perspectives in the story.
Is this a prevalent rule in Southwest Virginia restaurants? Have you ever been told to leave a bar in this area because you had a child with you? Do you think it’s a fair rule or not? Why?