“We love kids. We really, truly do.”
So begins a social media post by Nettie’s House of Spaghetti in Tinton Falls, New Jersey. Despite that love, however, kids are no longer welcome at the restaurant.
“Between noise levels, lack of space for high chairs, cleaning up crazy messes, and the liability of kids running around the restaurant, we have decided to take control of the situation,” the post goes on. Starting March 8, the restaurant will no longer allow any children under 10 in its dining room.
The pros and cons of children in restaurants
Debates about kids and which spaces they should inhabit aren’t new. A restaurant in Singapore added a surcharge for disruptive children last year. In 2018, a German restaurant instituted a rule banning kids under 14 after 5 p.m. to create “an oasis of peace.” And then there’s the old, never-ending debate about children on airplanes.
Novel or not, the move by Nettie’s House of Spaghetti has clearly struck a nerve. The announcement, which has gotten plenty of news coverage, also got a lot of reactions on social media. On Instagram, close to 3,500 people have weighed in since the announcement was made on February 9.
Perhaps not surprisingly, people have been vocal on both sides of the “Is this a cool move?” coin.
“Imagine if more establishments started doing the same,” one person commented. “That’s just awful. Children are part of the family unit. They are our future. I would never patronize a restaurant that [wouldn’t] allow children. I wish you luck but don’t be surprised if it affects your bottom line.”
“This isn’t just about high chairs, strollers, or screaming kids,” wrote another user, defending the restaurant’s decision. “When parents let their kids run wild in a restaurant with servers carrying heavy and hot trays of food, it becomes a huge liability for the restaurant, the staff, and the guests. I applaud this restaurant for taking a stand by being a trailblazer in the service industry.”
Other supporters were in favor of the decision not because of the liability stuff, but rather the whole “oasis of peace” angle. Several people even said they’d add the restaurant to their must-try list simply because of the new policy.
“I love this,” wrote one commenter. “Nothing is worse than wanting a quiet dinner out and some kid is screaming and the parents do nothing. It’s so disrespectful.”
As a parent who sometimes either chooses to or has to dine out with kids, I definitely see both sides of this particular debate. Kids can, indeed, be a lot, though a restaurant instituting a sweeping ban on them does feel kind of icky. As one commenter on the Nettie’s post pointed out, if a place doesn’t have a kids menu, it might not be the right place to take a kid.
If we’re being honest, on certain days, McDonald’s isn’t even the right place to take my kid. It’s all about picking your battles, and it might be best to pick those battles in a place that positions itself as kid friendly.
I suspect this move at Nettie’s House of Spaghetti will ultimately make little kids scarce, but the policy might become more malleable over time; perhaps well-behaved kids on the older age of the under-10 spectrum will warrant an exception. I mean, what is Nettie’s going to do, check library cards at the door?