When you hear that a pizza place is banning kids, you might be a bit surprised. After all, they’re typically family-oriented places, pizza buffets in the middle, maybe with an arcade to the side. But Hampton Station, a Tampa establishment serving pizza and craft beer, isn’t the stereotypical family pizza parlor, and they’ve decided to ban kids over what might be very real safety concerns.

Via the Tampa Bay Times:

Hampton Station, a neighborhood craft beer and pizza spot in Seminole Heights put the notice up on Oct. 24, on the front door in fat all-caps.

NO CHILDREN.

It’s a local piece of a national conversation. As American breweries and bars become increasingly welcome to families, with laid back atmospheres, food, games and grassy knolls, should business owners be able to draw the line?

The no-kids decision, he said, was the end result of “a lot of people who couldn’t keep their kids under control.” He wouldn’t share specifics, but pointed to a recent incident as the catalyst. He’s sure he would have been sued had the worst happened.

“A kid was in danger and could have seriously been hurt,” he said. “It’s a liability and safety issue. After the incident, I thought, this can’t happen again.”

He cited the restaurant patio’s unfettered access to the traffic on nearby Nebraska, with unsavory elements lurking in adjacent hotels. When you mix alcohol, dogs and kids, it’s not always going to end well, he said.

That’s a very real liability concern, especially in Florida, anecdotally our most overly litigious state. And according to at least one local resident, the safety issue isn’t just with the traffic:

And it’s the latter part, though, that sticks out to me. It’s not even unreasonable; here’s a very sound point from a local patron from that Tampa Bay Times piece:

Courtney Mattina, 28, is a mother of two in New Port Richey who has been a Hampton Station customer. There are plenty of places her kids aren’t allowed, she said — the gym, the salon — and she’s fine with the decision.

“I’m happy to see restaurants are taking a stand and saying, ‘We don’t want kids in here being noisy or messy, we’re going to create an environment for adults only,’” she said. “I was a waitress for six years and kids running around a restaurant is one of the most dangerous things in the world.”

The problem, though, is that most people aren’t reasonable when it comes to their kids. Biologically and psychologically, that makes sense! That’s what parenting is, and does! You get rewired into an exceptionalist mindset, and that’s fine. Humanity wouldn’t have made it this far without it.

Here’s where I point out that I don’t have children, and here is also where I can imagine a chorus of angry parents shouting “Then you just don’t get it!”, as though parenting is some kind of secret club. I actually get it just fine. Raising kids is a lot of work, requiring many sacrifices on many levels. That’s why I don’t have kids. It’s not rocket science. And sometimes those sacrifices include being able to go out to all the same establishments you used to hit before you had kids.

Even the best parents with the best-behaved children in the world can still be very disruptive to other people. The problem, though, is that everyone thinks of themselves as the best parents with the best-behaved children in the world, and therefore can’t be responsibly entrusted with access to adult social spaces. Does that suck? Sure, in the abstract, but it sucks a lot more when I’m at a late R-rated movie staring at the face of a three-year-old whose parents told her to turn around in her seat to avoid the more violent scenes.

I’m 100% not saying kids shouldn’t be out in public, which is the strawman most people on the other side of this debate bring up. Of course you should take your kids places, as long as those places allow and expect kids! If I go to a zoo or a park or a matinee or a store or a family restaurant, I fully expect children to be there. Parents should still do a way better job, on the whole, of actually parenting those kids in public spaces, but hey, that’s fine. But there has to be a line somewhere. Should kids be allowed at the office every day? In full-on bars?

Just go where kids are allowed. Based on 99% of the time I spend in public, it’s just about everywhere.

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.

  • Kay Donovan

    I actually agree. Either you are kid-friendly or you’re not. Simple as that. The pushback is very unreasonable, it’s for the mutual benefits of the owners and the clients, a lott less trouble forr all paries invilved. hampton Station is a goof pizza place, let them do their thing.
    https://restaurantguru.com/Hampton-Station-Tampa
    I guess it’s the ‘think of the children!” mentality. Only it’s not actually hepling kids by keeping making them a nuisance to their parents going out.