Business is booming at no-kids restaurant

One sushi eatery with an adults-only policy finds high demand from tot-weary diners. It also draws parental outrage.

By Aimee Picchi Jun 13, 2013 1:53PM

Couple toasting champagne glasses at restaurant table (© Chris Ryan/OJO Images/Getty Images)By his own account, restaurateur Mike Anderson isn't anti-children. He just felt adults needed a break from dining out with tots. 

That led to his "no patrons under 18" policy at a new sushi restaurant in Del Ray, Va., an exclusion that has led to booming business -- and irate comments from parents who are crying foul. 

Anderson already owns four family-friendly restaurants, and visiting his child-packed Mango Mike's gave him the idea for a new eatery that would ban kids, the Washington Post noted.

"There must be 50 kids in that joint. It's pandemonium," he said of the Caribbean-themed restaurant. "We ran it by some parents that had kids, and I would say eight out of 10 thought it was a great idea. They said, 'You're on to something here.'"

Since The Sushi Bar opened a week ago, the restaurant's policy appears to be paying off -- it's enjoying a packed house every night, WUSA-TV noted. Many major chains go out of their way to cater to families, such as Darden Restaurants' (DRI) Red Lobster or Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG), which both offer kids menus. 

"I understand why they would do that. It's not that big of a deal," said one mother of three who was turned away from The Sushi Bar. 

But not everyone is so understanding. Some people even compared the policy to apartheid on a Patch forum. 

"I won't be eating there and I'm not going to frequent Pork Barrel or Holy Cow any longer," one writer posted, referring to the owners' other restaurants. "It's ironic how happy they were to take my money for kids meals at Pork Barrel but now my money isn't good enough for fish."

Yet as anyone with children who pays up for a babysitter knows, it's sometimes a relief to eat out at a place that's kid-free. At least one other eatery has instituted a ban on children, a Pittsburgh-area restaurant that prohibited kids under 6 in 2011. 

It's not only restaurants seeking to limit exposure to children. Comic-Con banned strollers last year, while Malaysia Airlines started offering a child-free zone on some flights.

Is it legal? Probably. The federal Civil Rights Act doesn't prohibit discrimination based on someone's being a child -- or acting like one.

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi. 

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Jun 13, 2013 2:45PM
I have 4 kids and like any patron, I want to get the best experience for the money I spend especially if I get time away with my wife. I don't understand why adults with small children feel that it is warranted to come into an eatery and subject us all to their poor parenting styles and overtures with their obnoxious kids. I've literally been to a movie theatre at a rated R movie where someone brought in a newbown in a carrying basket. The kid cried throughout half of the show until management requested the couple to leave because they were receiving many complaints and didn't want to refund everyone their money for a poor experience. C'mon idiot for a freakin sitter if you don't have childcare. Or STAY THE HELL HOME!
Jun 13, 2013 3:27PM
It's all about courtesy to other customers. Eating around children can be incredibly annoying. There used to be a general understand that you don't take kids to certain types of restaurants, particularly the more high end, date type restaurants. Nowadays parents think they're entitled to taken their children everywhere so this sort of rule becomes necessary. I don't want to pay $100 for a romantic Saturday night dinner with my girlfriend so I can spend two hours listen to your brat squeal nonstop at the table next to me. Parents don't have some sacred right to inflict their kids upon everyone wherever they go. There are plenty of places where you can take your kids. They call them family restaurants for a reason. There is no reason that you need to be allowed to bring your kids to any restaurant in the country. I'm so tired of parents acting like they have a right to do whatever they want know...they're parents and that's a lot of work. I wish they had a kid-free airline too. 
Jun 13, 2013 4:26PM
So get sushi somewhere else and stop whining. Not everyone should have to be subjected to dining with people who wont control their children. I have two small kids of my own and I think it is an awesome idea. Like the article says, when my husband and I pay someone to sit with our kids so we can enjoy an adult night out, it's a buzz-kill to be sat next to Dameon the Tot Terror and his lazy parents. The last thing I want is his soggy sushi being hurled at my head while his parents pretend not to notice. Not everyone wants to be around your children, folks. And that's perfectly OK.
Jun 13, 2013 2:11PM
Its about time ! This can only grow with time ! When i go out to dinner i do not want to hear smell or eat by any kids ! Most parents with kids cannot control them ! Then they take them out to eat when they are sick and coughing all over the place ! Grow baby GROW...
Jun 13, 2013 4:26PM
I always prefer a kids-free environment when paying for an expensive meal.  Finally!
Jun 13, 2013 4:28PM
Now someone needs to start a kid free grocery store.
Jun 13, 2013 4:31PM
It's about time!  There is nothing more aggravating than trying to enjoy a good meal while having to listen to babies and kids screaming, crying, acting up, etc.  I witnessed a mom and dad eating their meal and totally ignoring their baby crying quite loudly.  It got so bad that a waitress asked to take the baby into the next room and try to comfort it.  The parents didn't even say "thanks"!  When my kids were little we ate out often because they knew better than to act up.  All I had to do was give them "the look" ... enough said.
Jun 13, 2013 4:01PM
I think this is awesome.  I  love children but I raised my family and now when we go out to eat we want to enjoy being together, in the quiet.  Most of the time when we eat out we ask to sit in the bar.    Leaves the kids out of the equation. 
Jun 13, 2013 4:26PM
more restaurants need to do this.  I hate going somewhere and some brat is running all over the place acting like a zoo animal. 
Jun 13, 2013 4:35PM
I think my kids are great, and I STILL support this restaurant!
Jun 13, 2013 4:31PM

So what is the problem.  A parent takes the kids somewhere else; it's not like there are not hundreds of alternatives within driving distance.


This is all about a privilege few who can't accept the fact that they can't have it their way here, even if they didn't plan on going in the first place...just the idea of someone telling them 'no' dare they.

Jun 13, 2013 2:38PM
Great idea. Children should not be eating sushi anyway.
Jun 13, 2013 4:30PM
Sounds good to me.  There's enough restaurants geared for family and kids.  Unfortunately you have a few parents that don't get it and don't consider it rude to ruin other peoples night out.
Jun 13, 2013 4:36PM
About time and I have four kids  Obviously when my husband and I go out without our kids we want to be AWAY from kids all together.  I don't want to listen to mine complain much less someone elses.  Hopefully more of these to come. 
Jun 13, 2013 4:34PM
i think it's a great idea - noisy, out of control kids don't belong in restaurants.  I remember sitting in a restaurant where this kid was yelling at the top of his lungs and I finally told him to keep it down (which he abruptly did after the initial shock btw).  Why couldn't the parent do that?  People who are offended SHOULD take their money elsewhere--to be indignant about it is entitled and completely self-centered; the world does not revolve around your children.
great idea- especially for parents who want a night AWAY from kids!  more, more!
Jun 13, 2013 4:41PM
I wish all restaurants would do this! Then I could enough my meal without those unruly kids or the babies that the parents think I want to hear them cry. I just wish they would do this for movies. NO KIDS allowed after 10p in theaters. Now that's a perfect date night without kids!
Jun 13, 2013 4:23PM
I've found that in resturants it is usually the off spring of the Liberal life style embracing parents who think it is ok to let their prodgeny boss and control their parents and exhibit some of the worst table manners I've ever seen. And the parents think it is so cute and constantly take photo's with their favorite electronic device to show their friends how their little monsters are behaving...
Jun 13, 2013 4:35PM

Having raised four children I think this is a great idea, and I do enjoy eating in a quite setting,

However, to be honest the rude, drunk, smoking adults usually ruin the experience for me.


Personally, and I'm being quite serious here, I think it would be a good idea for restaurants to cater to those groups as well, i.e. drinking only, smoking only, and how shall I say it, pricks only.


To each his own



Jun 13, 2013 4:42PM

I know this could open the door to bans everywhere for anything...BUT...being a father to two kids, I recently took just my wife out for a nice dinner at a nice restaurant that she really enjoyed.  We were hoping for OUR time - you know that time where we can focus on each other without having to constantly play referee to two wonderfully awesome, but energetic kids who simply can't wait to order desert.  (In all honesty, we hire a babysitter about 5 times a year since no family is nearby, so to get out for an evening it takes strategy.)  Anyway, we exit the kids with the babysitter and get to the restaraunt.  They give us a nice table and we settle in to order.  What happens next?  A Family gets seated next to us - they have two young kids (my boys ages), and these two kids are all over the map.  Parents are letting them run amok and playing the ignore game with them.  Well, it TOTALLY ruined our dinner.


I ended up dropping $100 for a meal we didn't enjoy and another $100 on a babysitter - sadly we also went to a 9 PM movie right after - where there were preschool kids running amok too...but that's another thread!


So in all, I can see why many would welcome this.  But I think the solution lies more with PARENTS controlling their kids in public than anything.

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