Restaurant sparks debate over children in cafes

An Australian restaurant is in hot water for its non-family friendly policy.

An Australian restaurant is in hot water for its non-family friendly policy.  (iStock )

A cafe owner has defended her decision to pen a Facebook post stating ‘No, we are not child friendly,’ saying it breaks her heart when children damage her property.On Monday, the Little French Cafe in Newcastle Australia posted a “housekeeping” announcement on their Facebook page:

“Are we child friendly? If you are looking for a cafe with a children’s menu, baby chinos, a play area, lounges for your children to jump on, vast space for your prams, an area for your children to run rampant, and annoy other customers, while you are oblivious to them — then the short answer is No, we are not child friendly. HOWEVER, if you would like to bring your children here and they are happy to sit at a table with you, while you enjoy a coffee, and are well behaved, please come in. Otherwise, there are plenty of places that are specifically designed to entertain your children.”

The post has since been deleted.

Some Facebook users called the original status “arrogant” and an “attack on parents,” The Newcastle Herald reports.

The cafe owner responded with this statement:

“I built the cafe myself. It has my blood, sweat and plenty of tears in it,” she wrote. “The post came about because I was questioned by a customer who had left a 1 star review on my business page stating ‘are you child friendly [sic] - because it doesn’t seem like it’. Yes, it comes across harsh according to some, but I’m a straight shooter.

“I have been subjected to children emptying salt and pepper shakers into my fireplaces, parents changing nappies on my lounges, kids grinding their own food into my carpet, parents sitting babies in nappies in the middle of dining tables, kids running around the cafe like it’s a formula 1 track [sic], jumping on the furniture, screaming - just for fun - not pain, and encouraged by their parents, upsetting the rest of the customers and I’d really just had enough.

“When I have to stand there and watch people disrespect and damage MY belongings and property, it breaks a piece of my heart every time. Some will agree with my stance, some will not, but it’s my stance for my business.”

The customer who wrote the one-star review, Judith Kotz, dined at The Little French Cafe on Friday with a group of girlfriends. There was a 3-year-old and a small baby present.

Ms Kotz told she wrote the review because she felt staff reacted negatively towards children at the cafe.

“Because of [the owner’s] attitude towards us, we asked if the cafe was child-friendly, just as a general policy. If that was the case, she should have said something before we were seated and ordered food. [The child] was being quite well behaved. She didn’t cry, scream, or have a tantrum. The baby didn’t even cry.”

“We tried to give our side of the story about what actually happened and she deleted my comment and blocked me from her Facebook page. We’re parents too, we know what to do. If a child misbehaves you discipline the child. The child was well-behaved.”

Some have been critical of the cafe owner’s position.

One commenter wrote: “You are a cafe, [sic] bottom line is that you are going to have ALL types of customers, and it’s important to make each and every customer feel as important as the next and cater for all types of customers. The post in question came across far from that and as an attack on parents and their ability to ‘parent properly’.”

But most posts on The Little French Cafe’s Facebook page are in support of the owner’s original statement.

“I don’t think there was anything wrong with what you said by any means. You aren’t a child minding facility and if parents want to take their children to your cafe, they need to be responsible for their behaviour. Simple as that,” wrote one woman.

Another said: “Totally on your side, nothing worse than rampaging children whose parents refuse to pull them in to line! I have two kids and was in no way offended by your initial post ... if their parents can’t control them, they shouldn’t be there.”