No Small Fries: Restaurant Bans Kids Under Six Years Old

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One Pennsylvania restauranteur has pulled the car over and told the kids to just get out. 

A local ABC affiliate reported that Mike Vuick, owner of McDain’s in Monroeville, Pa., sent this email to his customers letting them know that kidlets would soon be non grata:

“Beginning July 16, 2011, McDain’s Restaurant will no longer admit children under six years of age. We feel that McDain’s is not a place for young children. Their volume can’t be controlled and many, many times, they have disturbed other customers.”

When there is a loud child in any enclosed space—restaurants, airplanes, chapels—two groups of people emerge. There are those with boundless love for small children—and boundless sympathy for parents—who will abide any amount of noise in the presence of those cherubic little faces. And then there are those who experience the equivalent of road rage when parents don’t remove said loud child from said enclosed space. (These impasses can be particularly tense at 30,000 feet).

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When interviewed, Vuick defended his position. “I think it’s the height of being impolite and selfish,” he said. “And therefore, I instituted a policy.” He also delivered an “oh snap!” quip in response to angry parents: “You know, their child—maybe as it should be—is the center of their universe. But they don’t realize it’s not the center of the universe.” And to clarify, McDain’s touts itself as a destination for “cocktails and fine casual dining” that is adjacent to a golf course, so the restaurant may be used to older clientele.

Vuick is by no means the first person to issue a blanket ban on the kiddies. In the 1970s, one Florida city banned families with children under 14 from living in certain “adult community” parts of town; the city council even imposed a jail term and fine on anyone who sold or rented a house to such a family. In the 1980s, a Canadian human rights’ commission said a ban similar to Vuick’s did not violate the law; while a mother who was refused service felt she was discriminated against, the restaurant owner said “she and her husband were merely ending discrimination against customers who did not like to eat pasta while children whined and cried around them.” And, in more recent years, the number of children banned from schools has even been on the rise in some parts of the world.

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Katy Steinmetz is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @KatySteinmetz. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.