Mexican seafood restaurant La Fisheria has been the talk of the town this week—but not for its seafood. The restaurant announced in a Facebook post on Monday afternoon that it would no longer allow children under 8 years old in the restaurant after 7 p.m., explaining to diners: "We are a familly friendly restaurant, and we also respect all of our customers so we introduce this new policy to the restaurant."
Chef and owner Aquiles Chavez appeared on Channel 11 news that evening to explain his decision, telling KHOU reporter Drew Karedes that "Seven o’clock is not a time for children, especially when we serve drinks and wine."
Not surprisingly, the announcement was polarizing. Supporters cheered the restaurant's decision to encourage a more mature atmosphere in the evenings, while detractors wondered how a restaurant could claim to be "family friendly" while banning young children.
What was surprising was the number of parents with children who supported La Fisheria. "As a parent of three kids, I think it’s awesome," said local parent Kevin Clark, who recounted a tale of a recent anniversary dinner at Mark’s which had been ruined by a "nearby table full of bored, rambunctious kids."
"You pay for the experience and the food at a place like that," said Clark. "It’s not a Chili’s."
Amber Ambrose, mother of a young daughter and former editor of Eater Houston, agreed. "I say 'Bravo!' At least we know where they stand."
Other parents felt the ban was too broad, however, in both its time range and failure to separate the good kids (and parents) from the bad. "Banning kids after 7 p.m. [is] awkward," said attorney and Houston Chronicle football blogger Stephanie Stradley. "My kids [are] better mannered than some adults."
Asked reader Jasmina Kelemen on Twitter: "Wondering if they get so many kids during the week that it's really worth a ban?" Still others wonder if the move was necessary at all—the local foodie hive-mind is buzzing that the whole thing is just a smart PR move by a media-savvy restaurant owner.