On July 16, McDain’s Restaurant in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, made headlines when the management banned children under 6 from dining at the establishment. Owner of the casual bistro, Mike Vuick, sent an email to his customers, which read: “Beginning July 16, 2011, McDain’s Restaurant will no longer admit children under six years of age. We feel that McDain’s is not a place for young children. Their volume can’t be controlled and many, many times, they have disturbed other customers.”
My friend, Katie, read the email to me over our computers in a coffeeshop, where we were pretending to work, but were instead perusing the Internet.
“I think it’s kinda awful,” I told her.
“I think it’s kinda awesome,” she replied.
Let the record show that Katie has three kids. I have none. Let the record also show that Katie’s kids were not with us at the time.
Katie explained that she thought the ban was “kinda awesome” because she does not think loud, bratty (or maybe they’re just tired?) kids belong everywhere. “Sometimes the kids should be left at home,” she says. “There are nights when I pay a babysitter to watch my kids so I can go out and have a nice dinner with my husband. Then I walk into the restaurant and instead of having to hear my own screaming child, I have to hear somebody else’s. And I can’t threaten other people’s children as well as I can threaten mine.”
Apparently, Katie is not alone in her thinking. A radio station in Pittsburgh, conducted a poll and found that 74% of those participating agreed with McDain’s ban. A local TV channel held a similar poll, with similar results: out of 10,000 people voting, 64% supported the ban, 26% opposed it, and 10 percent were indifferent.
Vuick explained that his drastic move was a result of too many indulgent, inconsiderate parents who refused to quiet their unruly children. His policy seems to be paying off. Since going kid-free on July 16, McDain’s has seen business surge by 20%.
It’s being dubbed The Brat Ban, and it is catching on.
“Brat bans could well be the next frontier in destination and leisure-product marketing,” Robert Klara writes in his column for AdWeek.
Recently, Malaysia Airlines banned babies from their first-class cabins on their Boeing 747-400 jets. Despite complaints from customers, the company refuses to repeal the policy (perhaps this is because they are also being praised by grateful fliers).
The Alamo Drafthouse Theaters, located in Texas and Virginia, have a policy that does not allow children under 6 in most movies. CEO Tim League explains, “If the movie is a non-crossover kids movie, we sometimes flex this age down to 3 and up, and we also have select Baby Day screenings each week for infants and small children. If you want to take your 4-year-old to see The Hangover 2 at 10 p.m., however, you’ll have to go somewhere else.”
The website leavethembehind.com is entirely dedicated to providing information on kid-free vacations. The site contains an extensive list of luxury resorts, bargain hotels, and yoga retreats around the world that prohibit children.
All of these child-bans beg the question: Are people becoming more intolerant of kids, or are parents becoming less attentive of their children and simply tuning them out?
When I mentioned leavethembehind.com to Katie, she promptly bookmarked the site. Moments later, she asked me to find a child-unfriendly coffeeshop close by as she glared at a 5-year-old girl who was screaming for something at a decibel I could not understand.
“What is she saying?” I asked.
“She wants a vanilla cupcake. With sprinkles. I’d like to give her mother a knuckle sandwich. With my rings on.”
I raised my eyebrows and studied my friend, who often threatened acts of violence towards inattentive, inconsiderate parents.
“You will understand when you have kids,” Katie told me.