The family friendly bar
If you’re heading to a Chuck E Cheese’s in Killeen, Texas, you might want to reconsider; the one thing that could help you survive a night at this place is not for sale. Mothers Against Drunk Driving and local patrons successfully stopped the local Chuck E Cheese’s from acquiring a liquor license to sell beer. The “concerned citizens” claimed selling beer would ruin the restaurant for children. Chuck E Cheese’s sells beer at more than 75% of their other locations; however, somehow this location in Texas would be harmed with a license.
The complaint by purists goes like this: beer is adult entertainment and has no place in a children’s restaurant. Pam Smith, of Harker Heights, started a petition to prevent the license to sell beer. Her argument was that alcohol should not be sold in a place “where a kid can be a kid”. These people do not want families around alcohol, because they feel alcohol should not be consumed around children. Keeping families out of establishments that sell alcohol discourages community, and actually encourages over-indulgence and the problems associated with drunkenness.
No Strollers Please
The blog-o-sphere lit up this week about a bar in New York that is banning strollers in what was normally considered a family-friendly neighborhood. Mothers would gather together for a social hour at the Union Hall Bar, but the owners now say the mothers are no longer welcome. They even posted a sign stating, “NO STROLLERS PLEASE”. Drinking patrons complained that crying babies were disturbing in a noisy bar, so the management evicted the moms.
Other bars in the neighborhood stepped up, like the Tea Lounge, to accommodate families. The Tea Lounge even offers sing-a-longs in the day for children. The bar is packed with local families, while the other bar caters to the drinking crowd.
Even in my local neighborhood, which is predominately families with young children, the local tavern refuses to add children’s menu items. The tavern would rather shun their closest customers than cater to the families. Since the local watering hole is so unfriendly to families, many in the neighborhood resort to holding their own gathering at local parks and homes.
Why are alcohol and families separated?
Now that smoking bans are passed into law around the country, more and more families are showing up at the neighborhood pubs. For some, bar enthusiasts and alcohol protesters alike, this is an unwelcome change. The question has to be asked: why are the two, alcohol and families, separated in the United States? Pubs historically have been community centers, places for the whole family to gather and meet with other families. Before prohibition and the beer barons, pubs were family entertainment.
If the concern for children were real, you would want to encourage behavior that promoted a more responsible and family friendly attitude towards alcohol. Bringing families back into taverns would make the gatherings social affairs. It would also discourage binge drinking. Unfortunately, bars in America place the emphasis on drinking, not socializing.
Are they reducing DUIs or attacking alcohol?
With all the emphasis on reducing drunk driving and reducing binge drinking, you would think that MADD or other anti-alcohol organizations would encourage neighborhood pubs to be family friendly. If you have a neighborhood bar that encourages your whole family to attend, you are not likely to drive or over indulge.
Unfortunately these organizations encourage the demonization of drinkers, and promote abstinence over personal responsibility. Even MADD’s founder, Candy Lightner, stated “It has become far more neo-prohibitionist than I ever wanted or envisioned,” she says. “I didn’t start MADD to deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving.”
Bars are to blame too
The real reason families are unwelcome is bars want to sell as much alcohol as possible. Most responsible adults will not get intoxicated around their family, but when they are away from their children they tend to “cut loose”. Patrons would buy fewer drinks if the establishment were for families. Bars without families encourage binge drinking, and thus higher tabs. Bar owners want drunks for patrons, not families.
Ironically neo-prohibitionist groups are inadvertently supporting binge drinking. By keeping families out of taverns, only drunks are left to keep the bars in business.
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Credits and Links
I live in Denver, Colorado. This blog is everything about beer, wine, cider, mead and other spirits.
I am a avid homebrewer and winemaker. I’ve been making my own beer and wine for many years. I started making beer when I was in college (mostly because the drinking age in the United States is 21). My first few beers were horrible. The beers are much better now, and I often supply my neighborhood with free beer! It is a great hobby!