After receiving several complaints from loyal customers, the owner of an upscale Italian restaurant in Mooresville, North Carolina, has taken the controversial decision to ban children under the age of five. And, despite facing some backlash on social media, he claims that business has grown significantly.
Caruso’s describes itself as a “traditional, classy, intimate” restaurant but young children crying, screaming or playing on iPads at full volume and disturbing the other diners apparently didn’t fit in too well in that picture. So the owner, Pasquale Caruso, adopted a “no child under five” policy in January 2017, to ensure that his upscale eatery lives up to its reputation.
“I had several customers complain, get up and leave because children were bothering them, and the parents were doing nothing,” Caruso told the Mooresville Gazette. “It started to feel like it wasn’t Caruso’s anymore, that it was a local pizzeria instead.”
Caruso added that he didn’t like taking this kind of decision, but in the end, he had to do what was best for his business. ‘I try to please everyone, and create a nice atmosphere, keeping the restaurant elegant. I want it to be a place where couples and friends can have a nice evening out,” he said. “I was starting to lose money and customers, because I had very young children coming in, throwing food, running around and screaming.”
Yoshi Nunez, the restaurant’s manager, told the Washington Postthat the final straw was a little girl using an iPad with the volume on high. Despite repeated requests from the staff, her parents refused to turn down the device, so they had to ask them to leave. “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,” he said.
So in January, Caruso’s made the decision to ban children under the age of five. Since then, people have been voicing their opinions on the restaurant’s unofficial Facebook page, with many labeling the policy as a form of discrimination.
“How you are legally allowed to discriminate amazes me!” one person wrote. “Next you will be kicking out all the elderly because they take too long to eat. Slippery slope!”
“Now that you have banned small children, who is next: blacks, Jews, native people? Shame on you!” another Facebook user commented.
But for every critical comment, there are several that congratulate Caruso’s for taking such a brave, albeit controversial decision. “Thank you for taking a stand,” several people wrote on its Facebook page.
“I’m the parent of 5… don’t bring little ones to a nice restaurant and expect them to quietly sit still for an hour. They CAN’T DO IT,” one person posted.
“When my husband and I go out to dine, we also do not want to hear children crying or misbehaving,” another said, adding that the limit should be upped to 10-year-old children.
Pasquale Caruso claims that the online support for his controversial policy is reflected in the success of his business. The number of reservations has risen significantly since words got out about the restaurant’s no-child rule, and the number of patrons has gone from 50 a day, to around 80.
“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,” Caruso concluded.
According to Eater, Caruso’s isn’t the first restaurant to adopt a no-child policy. Restaurants in Texas, Pennsylvania, California and countries like Italy, Australia or Korea have also banned young children or implemented measures for their control.