My mother is one of those people that dislikes children so much I constantly marvel at the fact that I was born at all. We live in the same city, and every time we go out to eat, she zeroes in on any nearby table dining with a kid—or, even less comprehensible, a baby—in tow. It doesn’t matter what kind of noise said child makes; a joyful giggle grates on my mom’s ears as severely as a high-pitched scream. “Haven’t these people ever heard of a babysitter?” she’ll inevitably comment.
That’s why if we ever plan a family trip, I plan to take my mom to the German island of Rügen, where a restaurant called Oma’s Küche—”Grandma’s Kitchen”—has banned diners under the age of 14 from 5 PM onwards. Grandma might make a mean strudel, but she ain’t about those loud, rude nose-pickers.
Owner Rudolf Markl told the DPA News Agency last week that he had been thinking about the idea for a while. He’d grown tired of kids messing with tablecloths, knocking over wine glasses and annoying other patrons—all while their clueless parents "acknowledge it with a smile, keep on eating, and don't care at all." Markl reached his breaking point came recently, when some unruly youngsters damaged restaurant inventory including some antique photo stands.
"We have somehow reached that point where you say: This just can't go on like this," he told the news agency.
The restaurant’s new policy has sparked controversy in Germany, with some opponents of Markl’s policy claiming that it discriminates against children; the country, in fact, has a ban on age discrimination, which the restaurant’s new rule might violate.
But Markl explained that his decision to ban children is not meant to be directed at the kids themselves, but rather at hapless parents “who cannot control their children.” He said that many of his patrons applauded his decision, saying that they looked forward to dining in an “oasis of peace.”
As it turns out, Markl is just the latest in a growing community of business owners to banish snot-nosed youngsters from darkening their doorways. Caribbean resorts such as Sandals have long outlawed children, and an increasing number of restaurateurs are following suit: In Queensland, Australia, a European-style spot named Flynn’s doesn’t allow children under the age of seven; in Mooresville, North Carolina, the Italian restaurant Caruso’s bans children under the age of five; and in Tampa Bay, Florida, the pizzeria Hampton Station just says no to kids, too. And while you’d think that a business that relies on bringing in as many diners as possible would suffer financial consequences by limiting its number of guests, these restaurants report just the opposite. Shortly after announcing its new policy, Flynn’s made the highest weekend profits since opening 17 years ago; similarly, business at Caruso’s boomed after kids got the boot, with daily customer counts rising from 50 to 80.
It seems like there are plenty of people out there like my mom, who just want to enjoy a nice, peaceful meal without being exposed to a tantrum or to the demonic theme song of Blue’s Clues blaring out of an iPad. Were they to form a club, I’m sure Oma’s Küche would welcome them with open arms and plenty of cold, German beer.