It's about the beer
Gina Miller and Bill Keeper
Hey Bill, I was reminded of our visit to Zeppelin Hall in Jersey City (NJ) last year when I went to
the about our experience when I went to Greenwood Park, a beer garden in Park Slope (NY).
My question then was the same I had in Jersey City, what are all those infants, toddlers, pre-
teens, and teens doing in a bar and why are they outnumbering the adults? Come on, am I at
a beer garden or Chuck-E-Cheese? With all those kids running around I not only couldn't
enjoy my beers but actually felt as if I was a bad example for them.
To be fair, at Zeppelin Hall almost all of the kids were well supervised and mannerly but at
Greenwood Park I saw children jumping on other patrons’ tables, running around bumping into
adults, and blocking pathways to the bar as they sat on the ground. In both places I also
noticed some of the children being subjected to, shall we say, earthy language that is
commonplace at most bars. That's not fair to the kids or to the patrons who by the way, were
not really cussing but still not using a vocabulary a youngster should hear.
I'm sure management thought a family friendly policy would enhance business but just how
many beers can the under 15 set drink? In about an hour of watching crying kids in strollers
with parents too self-absorbed to notice I saw at least 8 adults leave Greenwood. Most states
have laws prohibiting youngsters from sitting at a bar even if they are only drinking something
as innocuous as water yet allow them to hijack an outside bar. I don't get it.
All this begs the question, just when did it become acceptable to bring children into a bar?
Can't these parents afford sitters for an hour or two? Even more, do they realize they are
going out to drink and then will have to drive with their children in the car? I don't care how
responsible they are. If they are drinking they should not be driving and never with kids even if
they are well within permissible blood alcohol levels.
Certainly I'm not anti-beer or anti-family outings. I'll even reluctantly say that if a parent wants
to drink at a bar with their kids in tow they can but with certain restriction. I have a simple
suggestion to make all this palatable for all concerned. Just have a self-imposed curfews
barring children past a certain hour, oh say, 7 PM or earlier. Look Bill, I understand you'll
throw the "they do it all the time in Europe" argument at me but it is meaningless in this
context. We're stuck with American attitudes toward children and drinking and in the short run
my curfew proposal might be the only way to deal with the issue right now.
That's it from me, chug-a-lug, Bill.....see you next month.
Well Gina, both places you named are beer gardens, not some shot and a beer biker bar. A true
beer garden is about family. It's a place with room, literally, for all entire families to have lunch,
enjoy the sunshine, and yes, for the adults, to have a beer too.
All I can say is that upset patrons (and I don't think there really are that many) need to be more
tolerant. I get your point if we're talking about a dark bar or in a club, but this is outdoors. Look
Gina, there are plenty of places for people to enjoy drinking but only a few like Zeppelin and
Greenwood to enjoy a beer and watch families having a good time.
As you know, this arrangement is perfectly normal in much of the world – Sunday lunch in a
British pub? Summers in German beer gardens? Cafes in piazzas and plazas in Italy and Spain?
Only here in the USA is everyone so fixated on walling off children from adult behavior and vice
Now, I agree it's wrong for parents to let their kids run around screaming like banshees or go to
the bathroom to change their diapers. I also agree that these parents shouldn't complain about
adults using adult language in adult conversations. But it's also wrong for adults without kids to
be against the mere thought of having well behaved children in your line of sight while downing a
pint or two.
Let everyone enjoy some multi-generational time that does not relegate parents to the
netherworld of play groups and sanitized children’s spaces, and does not cocoon children off or
shield their eyes from the genuine behavior and life of the rest of the real world.
I support your curfew concept. In fact, in England, the JD Wetherspoon chain of pubs recently
implemented a rule making sure that parents who bring young children not only eat a meal, but
stay for no more than two rounds. Add to that your 7 PM idea and maybe everyone will be, if not
happy, at least be satisfied.
Here's looking at you, kid! See you next month.