NC eatery owner who sparked national debate by banning kids is not backing down

Charlotte Observer

The Mooresville restaurant owner who ignited a national debate on badly behaved children is not backing away from his controversial policy banning infants and toddlers from his upscale Italian eatery.

In a March 28 interview with the Mooresville Tribune, Pasquale Caruso said his decision has nothing to do with disliking kids, but is instead a business move based on customer complaints at the restaurant, Caruso’s.

Caruso told the Tribune he was “starting to lose money and customers, because I had very young children coming in, throwing food, running around and screaming.”

“I had several customers complain, get up and leave because children were bothering them, and the parents were doing nothing,” Caruso told the Tribune. “It started to feel like it wasn’t Caruso’s anymore, that it was a local pizzeria instead.”

Caruso said he was surprised at how much attention the decision got on social media, with arguments for and against the policy erupting on Facebook, Twitter and other sites. The reaction appeared to be largely favorable, with many condemning parents for not better controlling their children in public.

“I am totally in support of this restriction and will start patronizing your restaurant,” said a Facebook post from Rebecca Royce.

When my children were young, if they became a distraction either by crying or their behaviors, either my husband or myself would immediately remove them from the setting. It didn't matter that there was food on the table or we were in the middle of a movie. My choice to remove them was out of respect for the others who were present...This is good parenting.”

However, Brittany Leigh Pegram felt differently.

“If kids aren't allowed, I will not be going. Some people have kids with autism or ADHD or anything else. They are amazing kids, but sometimes just speak loudly by nature, these parents still like to enjoy nice restaurants. I'm all for fine dining, but if you're going to preach it so much, you probably shouldn't be in a strip mall beside of a hair place.”

Caruso says for now, his policy stands, reports the 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,” he told the Tribune. “It was just the right decision for my business.”