While it is not popular with customers, banning children is a strategy that has become more and more popular with restaurant owners over the last several years. And while the enacting of such a policy conjures up images of tuxedoed big city maître d’s with some sort of unplaceable Western European accent, a town in North Carolina restaurant is letting its customers in on some of that sweet child-free dining action.
Caruso’s Fine Dining enacted a policy banning children under the age of 5 because management found that kids disrupted the ambience they were trying to establish. As the restaurant’s website states, Caruso’s is “traditional, classy, intimate…” And a crying infant does not exude any of those characteristics. When Michael Mills, general manager of Caruso’s talked the local ABC affiliate, he seemed to pin much of the blame for the policy on parents, saying “Sometimes the children become rowdy, and some of our other guests, it has made them upset because the parents don't do the right thing of taking the child out."
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Caruso’s recent actions show how far the policy has spread from fine dining institutions, like New York’s Le Bernardin (no kids under 8) or Jean-Georges (no kids under 10 in the formal dining room) where one might expect younger kids to be kept. By contrast, Caruso’s is a small Italian spot in Mooresville, North Carolina, a town of 35,000 just north of Davidson, which, if that doesn’t help orient you, is just north of Charlotte. Mooresville’s biggest claims to fame are that it is home to Lowe’s corporate headquarters and the NASCAR Technical Institute.
And while the age policy of a restaurant located in a strip mall (even a locally beloved restaurant like Caruso’s) won’t likely replace either of those two at the top of the Moorseville Wikipedia page, it did send the social media commentariat into a bit of a frenzy. Interestingly though, many of the comments come down strongly in favor of the restaurant’s decision, which has not always been the case with kid-free dining policies in the past. The restaurant’s unofficial Facebook page was filled with people calling the policy “wonderful,” “excellent” and a move that would allow them to enjoy a meal in peace.
Caruso’s will have to wait and see if there is any further fallout from the decision, but it doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. Just yesterday, the restaurant’s owner, Pasquale Caruso, told the Mooresville Tribune, “People don’t want to come in and spend money on a nice meal and an evening out, when there’s constantly food on the floor, loud electronic devices keeping kids entertained, and small children screaming…it was just the right decision for my business.”
Oh, one more thing: If you’re coming with your young ones over five, just make sure they have some grown-up taste. One other thing Caruso’s touts on its website. “No children’s menu available.”