"Welcome," reads the black-and-white sign on the door of The Sushi Bar. "This is an adults-only environment. No children under 18 please."
Some outraged parents have promised to boycott the upscale eatery, which opened just last weekend in the Del Ray area.
"Great way to keep me out of your spot," griped one commenter on the Sushi Bar's Facebook page. "As a single parent, thanks... we will dine at another sushi bar!"
"In case anyone is wondering, no, I won't be patronizing this establishment if I'm ever again in the area," added another commenter.
Read on to find out why the co-owners decided to make it an adults-only establishment.
But co-owner Bill Blackburn told Yahoo! Shine in a telephone interview that they had always planned to make the eatery a child-free zone.
"We were not expecting it to be a big deal," he told Yahoo! Shine. He and his business partner had done their research and knew there was demand for an adults-only restaurant in the area. "The space is not a huge, gigantic restaurant. It's a small little lounge."
"It’s going to be smaller, more upscale," co-owner Mike Anderson told The DelRay Patch in April. "No kids under 18. … Adults have said they need a place, too." Blackburn doesn't have children, he told Yahoo! Shine, but Anderson has three of his own — only two of whom are old enough to eat at his new place. So far, Blackburn told Yahoo! Shine, no one has shown up with kids in tow.
"We by no means hate children or think they don't belong in restaurants," Blackburn told WUSA-TV. "They just don't belong in this particular one."
Outside of the local community, the movement to ban kids from certain places — planes and restaurants, mostly — has caused widespread debate. Some restaurants, like McDain's in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, ban younger kids, usually under the age of 6. Even kid-friendly Disney banned children younger than 10 from some of its Florida resort's restaurants. And some airlines are responding to consumers who feel that the skies might be a friendlier place to fly if kids weren't allowed on planes.
At The Sushi Bar in Alexandria, though, diners don't seem to think that the no-child policy is that much of a problem. Largely, the response to ban on the restaurant's Facebook page has been positive, with commenters applauding the restaurant for the move. "This is a great idea, and I have two children!" writes one enthusiastic commenter. According to WUSA-TV, the policy has been a boon for the business — the restaurant's been packed every night.
"They've gotten a lot of press over the whole no-kids thing, but I don't really know why," wrote "Dennis B" on Yelp.com this week. He gave the restaurant a five-star review. "Just walking into the place you see that it's not really a place to bring your little ones, even if they didn't have the policy. It's small and intimate, with big comfy couches taking up half the restaurant. The kind of place that you want to sit back and relax — almost like having sushi served to you in your living room."
And even patrons who are parents say they can see the point. One mother, who opted not to share her name, told WUSA-TV: "I understand why they would do that. It's not that big of a deal."
"I have three children and I would love to go to a kid-free restaurant," commented Carl Harper on Facebook. A chance to eat a meal in peace. I have gone to different places to enjoy a meal away from the kids just to be bothered by other people's screaming children. Also to be bothered by the children who run around acting like it's Chuck E. Cheese's."
"I'm a mom, and I have no problem with that," added Gretchen Sher via Facebook. "There are plenty of places for my kids to go with my husband and I that welcome families, and we can always get a sitter if we want to go to an adult-only place."
Others feel that 18 is too old of a cut-off for kids.
"Our son loves sushi and is very well behaved," wrote a Patch reader in response to the news. "He's been to several 3 star, upscale restaurants. At 12 years old he's way beyond the shrieking phase."
Anderson and his business partners also own the restaurants on either side of The Sushi Bar — Pork Barrel BBQ and Holy Cow, both of which are more family friendly. For families in the area, that means they've still got options — even if sushi isn't one of them.
–Lylah M. Alphonse
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