Coffee Shop Owner Bans Kids Under 12, But Dogs Are OK
by Angelica Lai
Photograph by Twenty20
Banning children from restaurants isn't unheard of. In fact, in recent years, there has been a steadily growing list of food joints that choose to do so. But one coffee shop owner is coming under fire not just for "banning" kids under 12 but also for allowing dogs instead.
"Can anyone tell me just what kind of town we’re living in when dogs are allowed into an establishment and children are not?" writes Wendy Moore in a letter to the Herald Express.
The space at the center of the controversy is The Chart Room, also known as The Chart Room First Class Coffee Lounge on Facebook, an ocean liner-themed coffee lounge in Devon, England, that opened its doors over the summer.
While it doesn't explicitly ban children under 12, a sign does publicly state that it doesn't cater to this age group. But the owner, Bob Higginson, says dogs are welcome.
"A lot of people have assistance dogs or pets they bring with them and they don’t jump around taking things off the tables. I’ve never had a badly behaved dog come in, no dog has ever broken anything in the shop," says Higginson, who has two kids of his own, now 24 and 21.
"Who on earth does this Bob Higginson think he is? Would he ban disabled people from entering his premises? Or people of a particular race or color of religion? I’ll bet my bottom dollar he wouldn’t; he’d be frightened to death to do so," Moore says. "Or how about the elderly? Ban them as well, would he. No, he wouldn't—that would be ageism. So how come he thinks it OK to ban children of a certain age? This is blatant discrimination and I would be very interested to know if he is breaking any laws."
For the record, Higginson isn't breaking any laws, as there is no legislation on whether or not businesses can permit or deny entry to children. Still others have criticized and boycotted the shop for being discriminatory as there are "good kids" who don't create problems, just as there are "bad adults" who do, or for making the age limit too old.
Higginson thinks critics are blowing it all out of proportion, as the space isn't exactly child-friendly and his main demographic is older people who want peace and quiet. Distracting children running around and screaming, and possibly even breaking the expensive artifacts that decorate the space, are just not a part of the vibe his business is going for.
"I simply wanted to create a nice quiet zone where grown-ups could sit, relax and enjoy the quiet atmosphere. There are plenty of other places for people with children to go. It's not like I've launched a ballistic missile over Torbay," he told the BBC, referring to a borough in Devon, England.
The Chart Room also has many vocal supporters from all over the world. And if anything, the publicity over the controversy has helped the bottom line.
"Three polls have now been run with 82 percent, 87 percent and 92 percent support in our favor," Higginson wrote on Facebook. "The lounge has coped well with demand although at times we have been overwhelmed with visitors and again apologize if we have not been able to meet demand. Local support has also been tremendous and we really enjoy meeting the many people who hadn't realized that The Brixham Steam Packet Co and Chart Room existed before all the publicity."