‘Stroller patrol’ at bars sparks debate: ‘Why not take your kids to a strip club’
On a typical Saturday or Sunday at Pig Beach, a beer garden with locations in Gowanus and Astoria, the families come early. They line up at 11:15 or 11:30, so that when the bar opens at noon, they can snag prime tables.
Thirsty moms and dads order some brewskis for themselves and hot dogs and Rice Krispie treats for their progeny. The kids mess around with the cornhole game and colorful chalk that the bar provides while their world-weary parents get a bit of a break without springing for a babysitter.
“We call [them] ‘the stroller patrol,’ ” Pig Beach’s director of operations, Shane McBride, told The Post.
Bars and breweries in the city, particularly those with outdoor space, are increasingly catering to the kiddie crowd. After the past two years, parents could use a drink — or three — and local watering holes are happy to serve them. But some say that knocking back a pint just isn’t as enjoyable in the presence of pint-sized customers.
“I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: I don’t hang out in their playgrounds, and I don’t want them in my bars,” Mike Burmil, a member of the Facebook group NYC Craft Beer Club, told The Post. “Parents, if you think you’re cool because you can bring your kids to a brewery/brewpub, you’re not. Why stop there? How about a casino? A strip club?”
But local business owners say allowing kids makes dollars and cents.
Radegast Hall & Biergarten in Williamsburg was strictly 21 and older for years, but in 2018 it started allowing children during daylight hours after customers demanded it.
“Many of our regulars started having kids around that time, and we wanted to be able to still include them,” manager Sean Snyder said.
But younger customers do present some complications.
“We’ll get the parent who is there to have a few drinks, conversate with their friends . . . [they let their kids think] it’s a playground, and we almost become the de facto babysitters,” Pig Beach’s McBride said, admitting that the kiddie crowd can get out of control as the afternoon progresses.
And some customers without children aren’t on board with the trend.
Ray Garvey, a 26-year-old golf pro from Massapequa, Long Island, said that kids in bars are a frustrating distraction when he’s “just trying to enjoy some beers with buddies.”
“They’re yelling, screaming and running around . . . it’s unbearable looking in from the outside,” he said. “I really don’t get why parents do it and expect the rest of the place to be unbothered.”
Others such as Kajsa Nilsson, a 41-year-old woman from Sweden enjoying an extended stay in NYC, are also down on the pro-kid policies because of how it makes her feel about her own life.
“It’s frowned upon where I’m from, and I don’t like it here. It makes me feel judged by parents for not having kids,” she said.
But, some childless 20-somethings are fine with it.
“As long as they’re well behaved and watched over, it really doesn’t bother me at all,” said Chris Willis, 27, of Williamsburg.
And parents are a growing army who are eager to win this battle.
James Holdsworth, a 32-year-old living in Williamsburg, recently grabbed a beer with his 18-day-old son, George, and 33-year-old buddy, Marcus Williams, at Radegast. The trio had a great time, and Holdsworth, who brought a special thermometer to make sure the beer hall’s temperature was safe for his newborn, plans to make it a regular outing.
“It can be really easy to lose your old life when you have a kid, and that’s something my wife and I don’t want to see happen to us,” Holdsworth said. “Yes, I’m a dad now, but I still like to come for a beer after work.”
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