‘No children’: Ban at Florida pizzeria sets off controversy

‘No children’: Ban at Florida pizzeria sets off controversy
A popular pizza spot in Tampa Bay, Florida has banned children from entry, citing safety concerns. The decision has divided the local community and sparked a debate on discrimination.

Parents learned of the restriction after a notice in all caps “NO CHILDREN” was posted on the door of Hampton Station, a beer garden and pizza restaurant in Tampa Bay. Many were not happy about it.  

Troy Taylor, owner of Hampton Station, defended the ‘no-kid’ policy explaining that the decision was made as he had encountered “a lot of people who couldn’t keep their kids under control,” citing one recent incident in particular.

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

Taylor said the patio allows unfettered access to Nebraska Avenue, which is busy with traffic, and there are “unsavory elements that lurk in adjacent hotels... When you mix alcohol, dogs, and kids, it’s not always going to end well,” Taylor said.

On a Tampa Bay Moms’ Group Facebook page, the decision to ban children prompted a cascade of comments by Wednesday.

“My question is how does this not fall into some type of discrimination?” wrote one poster.

“I appreciate places that don't allow kids, there are a bajillion places for families, and some people don't want to be around kids which is fine!” wrote another.

“I think the term ‘NO CHILDREN’ in all caps comes across a little...I don't know...harsh?” said one person. “Perhaps ‘18 and up only’ or ‘Adults only’ wouldn't rustle so many feathers.”  

Another chimed in saying, “Good for them. People let their kids act like animals. Probably the same people complaining.”

One group member remarked that the ban was probably caused by a family complaining about “non-kid friendly ruckus that happens at bars.”

It is not the first time a Tampa Bay venue has banned children; in 2012, Cappy’s Pizza made the news when the owner put up a sign criticizing parents who allowed their children to frolic unsupervised on the patio, causing dangerous situations and damage to the restaurant’s property.

In March this year, an upscale North Carolina restaurant introduced a similar ban on children under the age of five, according to the Washington Post. Caruso’s, an upscale Italian restaurant in Mooresville, asked a family of diners to leave after a little girl was using an iPad at a high volume, and her parents refused to turn the volume down despite repeated requests from staff.

“They were upset, but they didn’t seem to care about what the other guests thought. 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,” Caruso’s manager Yoshi Nunez told the Post.

Under federal law, a business owner can make their own decisions when it comes to children. Discrimination is only against the law when it is based on sex, race or religion.

In recent years, restaurants in Texas, Pennsylvania and California have either banned young children outright or introduced measures to control their behavior, according to Eater. Several establishments in South Korea, Italy, and Australia have also banned children.