Local restaurants ban children during service hours

It's a decision that has put the chef of a Houston restaurant, La Fisheria,on the defensive after some reactions from parents

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - From restaurants to airlines, it seems more and more businesses are banning your kids by restricting service hours and limiting areas where they can sit. KPRC Local 2 consumer expert Amy Davis is looking into the new unfriendly tot trend.

Most pint-sized patrons have their own ideas of what constitutes fine dining; and they know there are rules when the whole family eats out.

"Sit down and no hitting," 4-year-old Owen told Davis. "And no punching!"

"Don't wipe your face on your dress," another girl said, recalling guidelines her parents have enforced at restaurants.

Even when they're on their best behavior, they are not always welcome at La Fisheria near Shepherd and I-10.  Owner and executive chef Aquiles Chavez recently posted the restaurant's new policy on Facebook.

It reads, "After 7 p.m., people over 8-years-old only."

It's a decision that has put the chef on the defensive after some reactions from parents.

"That seems a little harsh," said mom Sarah Hawks.

"I'm sad that an institution would make that absolute," mother of two Devin McCord told Davis.

But La Fisheria is not the only business banning kids. A sushi bar in Virginia posted "No one under 18" on the front door of the business. A Pennsylvania restaurant banned kids under 6 and a South Carolina eatery adopted a "no screaming children" policy.

"Things happen with kids," said Stephanie Walters. "You can't control every situation."

What's now been dubbed the "Brat Ban" has ascended to the airlines. Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia and Singapore's Scoot Airlines have all announced rules banning kids under 12 from certain sections of their planes.

"I think if there's a special section where people can go and they don't want to be disturbed, I think that's more power to them," said mom Kinsey Wall.

But it's a trend travel agent and writer Janice Hough doesn't see coming to US airlines anytime soon.

"As much as people say they don't want to be around children, the airlines just don't want the hassle," Hough told Davis.
And she says American parents wouldn't let the ban go unchallenged.

"Somebody, some lawyer's gonna say that's age discrimination," said Hough.

Attorneys tell Local 2 that children are not protected from discrimination under federal law. Businesses reserve the right to refuse service to anyone as long as they're not discriminating on the basis of race, religion or any other legally protected class.

"On certain nights, after a certain time, I think adults want to have an adults-only evening," said Lindsey Honari.

And Chavez says that is what he is hearing from most of his customers. Since the new policy started at the beginning of August, reservations after 7p.m. have spiked.

"The couple with kids... they are the couples who more support this decision," Chavez said.

We want your feedback. Head to the Local 2 Facebook page and tell us what you think about the so-called "Brat bans." Tomorrow on Local 2 at 5, we'll share your comments and tell you about a local high end restaurant bucking the trend, and inviting welcoming your little ones. Loc

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