For Troy Taylor, it wasn’t an easy decision to ban children from his Tampa Bay restaurant.
But Taylor said recent events forced him to do it.
He told the Tampa Bay Times that his restaurant has a patio that is right next to busy traffic on a nearby road — and he fears what might happen if a parent doesn’t keep track of their child as they enjoy pizza and beer outside.
“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.”
So he posted a message last Tuesday on the front of Hampton Station, a pizza restaurant known for its craft beer, that simply said “NO CHILDREN,” WKRG reported.
Quickly, a debate over the controversial decision was waged on social media.
Some took to the Yelp pages of the restaurant, giving it a rating of just one star out of five and leaving comments to voice their displeasure.
“No children. All caps. The biggest font, at the top of the door. All after gladly accepting money from families for two years. Rude,” wrote a user from Tampa named Matt K. “The owner is entitled to his opinion. ‘No Children Please’ would suffice. Have some class. Have some manners.”
Another Tampa-based user, this one named James H., wrote that other restaurants that serve beer still allow kids.
“I saw today a sign displayed on the front door “ No Children”. Really!!!” he wrote. “This isn’t some dive it’s a neighborhood pizza place. Yes they serve beer but so does many restaurants. Amazing.”
Others gave the pizza shop a good rating, including one user named Jess J. who wrote on Oct. 27, “Hooray to the owners of this place for standing up to a society which says we have to tolerate poorly behaved children and their absent-minded parents. I can’t wait to grab a slice!!”
There was also discussion about the ban on the Tampa Bay Moms Group Facebook page — with most agreeing with Taylor’s decision, saying that it makes Hampton Station a good option for a date night.
“I love going on date nights to places that don’t allow children,” Tabbitha Poehner commented on the post. “It’s my time away from my kids and I don’t want to be tripping or hearing others.”
Others were less judicious with their words.
“Take your kids elsewhere,” Crystal Webb wrote.
“Good for them,” Dacia Mitchell commented. “People let their kids act like animals. Probably the same people complaining.”
Even with many defending his restaurant, Taylor told Redbook that it’s been tough dealing with the criticism.
“The majority of the families and parents are great,” Taylor said. “It’s a few that ruined it. From a liability standpoint, we couldn’t really handle it.”
Now he’s worried about potential fallout from once-loyal customers.
“I definitely think that sales are gonna take a dip,” he told WKRG. “I haven’t got much sleep the past four or five days really, because of this. ’Cause this is my livelihood.”
In March, an upscale North Carolina restaurant banned children under the age of five, The Washington Post reported.
It was sparked by a child using an iPad with the volume turned up, and her parents refused to turn it down even after multiple people asked them to do so.
“They were upset, but they didn’t seem to care about what the other guests thought,” Yoshi Nunez, owner of Caruso’s, told the Post. “We tried to be nice about the situation, but we’re here to take care of customers and we can’t tell a parent how to control their kids.”