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Children at Restaurants: A New Jersey Establishment Bans Access for Those Under 10

Serena Curto
copertina bambini ristorante nettie s house of spaghetti

In Tinton Falls, Nettie's House of Spaghetti Restaurant Bans Children. Despite the numerous criticisms received, profits have increased, as has the well-being of the staff in the dining area.

The news 

Nettie's House of Spaghetti, located in Tinton Falls, is an Italian restaurant set in an art deco ambiance, owned by Chris and Tania Calabrese. Last February, the restaurant posted an announcement on its Facebook profile stating that it would prohibit children under 10 from entering, garnering thousands of comments within hours; the "negative" and "protest" comments were so numerous that the restaurant had to restrict comments on the post.

nettie s house of spaghetti locale
Nettie's House of Spaghetti

Among the less enthusiastic messages were statements like: "Your announcement makes me feel sick, and I hope that everyone who thinks like you boycotts the restaurant," or: "This is a short-sighted decision; you'll be forced to close the place by the end of the year." On the other hand, some customers appreciated the idea, believing it could provide them with a better dining experience and hoping for a new restaurant trend embraced by more establishments. The news quickly spread worldwide, with many people commenting and expressing their opinions, including the Daily Mail UK, which promptly contacted the restaurant for a statement.

bambino al ristorante Shutterstock

"The response has been overwhelmingly positive," said Tania Calabrese, co-owner of the establishment along with her husband Chris Calabrese. "I would say that the situation has now stabilized, and we are just as busy as we were before the announcement." However, there is no doubt that this decision has led to the loss of some customers, including regulars. "We no longer see some of the customers who were once regulars here. They probably disagreed with our decision," she said, "but despite that, we still believe it was the right move for the business. We will always be grateful to our supporters."

nettie s house of spaghetti pollo marinato
Marinated chicken 

Apparently, Nettie's profits have significantly increased because the presence of many children in the restaurant resulted in numerous table settings without actual orders. Additionally, the restaurant has had a policy for several years that bans strollers. After the announcement, Calabrese mentioned that they had to turn away a family with a child in a stroller. "The parents, after our refusal, wrote a negative review—even though, in our defense, when customers make a reservation, they must first accept the restaurant's policy, which is also clearly stated on our website."

bambino al ristorante

Although it was a tough decision, it was ultimately made to protect their guests and staff. It seems that this idea had been in the works for some time but was only recently implemented because the restaurant was becoming increasingly chaotic due to too many children during dinner service. "Guests have every right to enjoy dinner in total relaxation, conversing and savoring dishes from our kitchen without interference. On the other hand, they should never negatively impact the experience of the rest of the clientele. Children were running between tables, climbing on sofas... in short, it wasn't the atmosphere we wanted for Nettie's. After a series of unpleasant incidents, the straw that broke the camel's back was when a child around 7 years old, lying on a bench, kicked a pregnant customer in front of the indifference of their parents," Calabrese recounted.

nettie s house of spaghetti piatto
Un piatto del locale

In summary, although the decision to prohibit children from entering the restaurant has garnered many criticisms, the result is that waitstaff no longer have to worry about tripping over children during service, and in the end, the establishment's revenue has increased. This strict entrepreneurial approach has created a clear divide with other businesses, which is why Calabrese emphasizes, "There will always be people with different opinions than yours, but it's important to respect others' thoughts because we would never tell another entrepreneur what's best for their business."

Cover photos from the restaurant's Facebook page

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