Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Who Would Dare Ban Babies From Brooklyn Bars?

Babies in bars? This could only be an issue in Park Slope, Brooklyn. And it doesn't stop with small children scrambling around shrieking in drinking establishments; there are stroller traffic jams and mothers who want to breast feed here, too. Union Hall, a large Park Slope bar with indoor bocce lanes and a basement music venue once had a "no strollers" policy, one that may have been put in place after some rumored Fire Department tickets for strollers blocking exits. That policy is no longer in place.

How did this battle start? Young parents began bringing kids to bars more often when New York banned smoking indoors. My generation, the one for which 30 is the new 20, finds itself listening to the same music as its children, and wearing the same skinny jeans. It doesn't know it's grown up. Or rather, it refuses to grow up.

[UPDATE 3/4/10: When I wrote this yesterday, I couldn't recall actually seeing babies in Park Slope bars. Sure, I get run off sidewalks by giant strollers being pushed three abreast by mommies of means. But I hadn't had the bar experience. Until I stopped for a drink on Seventh Avenue after work last night. Damn it if there wasn't a young hipster couple with an infant, coming in for some booze.]

Here are some quotes about kids in bars, mostly via Gothamist, by locals:
  • "I will get up on the subway for kids. I will be tolerant of them kicking the back of my seat while seeing a G-rated movie. But let me have my bars."

    --Julieanne Smolinski, 26-year-old Brooklyn resident (, Mar. 2, 2010)

  • "We're a neighborhood gathering place, not a hard-drinking bar, and we're not jerks about it. But the overwhelming clientele that spends quite a lot of money here can't deal with babies."

    --Greg Curley, co-owner of the Park Slope bar Double Windsor, which recently made a 'no-kids-after-5 p.m. rule.' (, Mar. 2, 2010)

  • "I'm not going to keep her out past 7 p.m. When the bar starts filling up, that's when we head home. It's responsible parenting and responsible adult behavior. I'm not knocking back double vodkas while my daughter is stumbling around."

    --Matt Gross, freelance writer and Park Slope resident (, Mar. 2, 2010)

  • "My stance hasn't changed since I had my daughter. We've taken her to a bar or two, and she's proving herself to be a very pleasant diner, too—but we take her at times where it's totally square and appropriate. I've never eaten dinner at 5:30 before, but now I do if I REALLY want to go and we don't have a plan. I know a ton of other bar and restaurant owners and I can see them cringe when people bring their kids in at inappropriate times. It ruins the vibe they've worked very hard to create. Bars aren't Romper Rooms, they are dangerous places with pottymouth drunks. Some seem more friendly than others, but they aren't. You can tell if a place is friendly to kids or not and you shouldn't take it personally if they are not. Just go somewhere else."

    --Jack "Skippy" McFadden, owner of the Gowanus, Brooklyn bar The Bell House (Gothamist, Feb. 17, 2010)

  • "No matter what breeders might think, bars are not family-friendly. If I am out drinking and sobbing about a bad breakup, I don’t want my cries to compete with those of an infant sitting next to me. If I go to the bathroom to correct my wayward mascara at the end of a long weekend night, I don’t want to watch a baby being wiped down on the soggy sink counter.

    "Nor do I want to be scolded by parents like the ones at the Gate, a favorite bar, where friends have witnessed a few mothers with toddlers actually wagging their fingers when young people cursed too loudly or got a little sloppy, while conveniently overlooking the fact that alcohol, blaring punk rock and drunken partiers are not pediatrician-approved."

    --Risa Chubinsky, Park Slope resident (New York Times City Room Blog, Jan. 15, 2010)

  • "God, they're like ants on Fire Island! Even the wait staff and manager at the restaurant were chagrinned this past weekend when the needy, greedy narcissists arrived back from their summering to ruin what was evolving into a peaceful haven for grown-ups who have enough of a life to leave their kids at home when they want a dinner at what is clearly an adults-only kind of place.

    "Provini deliberately doesn't have high chairs, I was secretly told by a waitress, and there certainly isn't any room for strollers, but the exquisite wine list alone should keep kids out, don't you think? Not in Park Slope, where pathetic parents don't want to live with the choices they've made, so they crash everyone else's party. CRASH?! Yep. Everyone turned around to see the glass breaking on the floor at the table with the toddlers."

    --Peter Loffredo, psycholigist, blogger, Park Slope resident (Only The Blog Knows Brooklyn, Sept. 15, 2009)

  • "It was strictly liability. A lot of parents are great and mindful. But some are not that attentive to their kids when they’re in here. This is a bar with an open stairwell and a bocce court. This is a business and we don’t have the staff to police it."

    --Jim Carden, owner of Union Hall (Gothamist, Feb. 1, 2008)

  • "Psychologically, you feel like, 'Oh, my life hasn’t changed that much,' although of course it completely has."

    --Christen Clifford, a writer/actress who, according to the New York Times "proudly recalled breast-feeding her son, Felix, at the bar before ordering a martini." (New York Times, Feb. 10, 2008)



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't there be a movement for people who want to pressure parents to keep kids out of bars/cafes? I can't socialize or correct papers anymore?

11:18 AM  

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