La Fisheria, the Houston seafood restaurant run by reality TV chef Aquiles Chavez, is saying no to children aged 7 and under after 7 p.m., according to a Monday post on the restaurant's Facebook page. The Facebook comments have been mixed. Some applaud the new rule, sharing plans to take advantage of the newly child-free dining establishment soon. Others aren't so enthused. "I find it ironic they say family friendly, when the new rule is anything but that," writes one opponent.
"People—mostly adults—when they go out, they mostly go out around 7:00 and later. So we just try to respect them," co-owner Ena Niño told The Atlantic Wire over the phone. "We're not banning anybody. We're just trying to be fair with all our customers because, like I said, we open at 5:00—that's a good time for younger children to come and enjoy eating with their families."
Fox News notes that another Houston restaurant, Vida Tex-Mex, tried a similar rule, banning patrons under 16 from dining at the restaurant in the evening. (It then went out of business, though not necessarily for that reason.)
The policy also calls to mind Brooklyn beer garden Greenwood Heights' decision last year to ban kids after 4 p.m. That one didn't go over so well among the parent crowd, as the New York Daily News reported at the time:
“I’m looking at these 21-year-olds,” said Alex Phillips, 36, whose daughter Madeleine, 2, rested by her side. “Wait until you have kids and want a drink.”
The current cutoff, she said, “is a little harsh.”
And what of the parents who just want to get some Texas seafood without shelling for a babysitter?
A member of Niño's staff mentioned that the policy was partly motivated by a recent episode wherein several customers left the restaurant because of screaming kids. He also cited the dining room's small size.
"We know young children are thinking about exploring and playing," Niño added. "I think a restaurant is not a good place for them to be playing, you know? We don't want to be responsible if something happens."