Restaurant bans kids at night, joins others in adding child-free policy

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By A. Pawlowski

You’re in a nice restaurant, having a great meal, looking that someone special in the eyes and then it happens: a baby starts screaming at a table nearby or an overly-enthusiastic toddler begins running around the floor.

Another establishment has had enough.

After complaints from patrons disturbed by loud or unruly children, a Texas restaurant has decided to ban small kids from its premises during the evening hours.

“After 7:00 pm, people over eight years old only,” reads a message posted this week on the Facebook page of La Fisheria, a Mexican restaurant that serves lunch and dinner in Houston.

“We are a family friendly restaurant, and we also respect all of our customers… thanks for your understanding.”

La Fisheria is just the latest eatery to establish a kids-free zone, fueled by the frustration of customers who say they don’t want to have their special – and often expensive -- outing ruined by a stranger's misbehaving child. One restaurant recently banned the 18-and-under crowd, while another no longer welcomes children 6 and under.

“I am all for this... I had a very special life event ruined at a more gourmet restaurant by a screaming baby that was the same pitch as a dental drill. The parents ignored the child and continued to eat,” a man wrote in response to La Fisheria’s Facebook announcement.

But the policies are also irking many parents who call them family unfriendly and hostile to kids. They say they, too, are entitled to a night out and plead for more patience for babies and children.

“So you'd rather parents take their children to an unhealthy fast food restaurant than take their children to a nice meal? You people who want families banned is what's wrong with this world,” a man wrote on La Fisheria's Facebook page.

In another sign of how much of a hot-button issue this is, a Washington restaurant sparked a social media frenzy this week when it criticized customers whose children made a mess after eating scones and posted a photo of the pile of crumbs online. A TODAY Moms story on the incident prompted almost 2,000 comments on our Facebook page.