Thursday, March 30, 2006


Babies in bars

It's another beautiful, bright, warm-ish, cloudless day here, and after a brisk and jacket-free walk in Rockefeller Preseve it just seems like such a positive day. And so I can't think about anything bad from the news, so I think I'll talk about an item from the lighter side: American Public Media's radio program "Marketplace" had a story this morning about bars in the Park Slope neighbourhood of Brooklyn that are allowing customers to bring their babies along. This situation has been enabled by the combination of a liberal attitude and New York's smoking ban, the latter of which has rendered bar air breathable even by our most tender and vulnerable citizens.

On the positive side, parents get to go out and socialize at the local watering hole, without having to deal with the babysitter issues. It enables a quick stop for a beer with one's co-workers on the way home from picking up the tot at day-care. And remember that we're talking about Park Slope here — this is an upscale area with some nice places, not a low-rent district with the flickery neon signs with half the letters burned out.

On the negative side, well, quite simply: are bars, even in Park Slope, the right places for babies? One bartender complains that the lined-up strollers often get in the way, and a customer notes that he feels uncomfortable with the "familial aspect" as he goes about his bar-based activities of, as he puts it, drinking a lot, getting loud, and hitting on women.

I suppose the bottom line of it is the bottom line: does the extra income from those who bring their babies make up (or more) for the income lost from those put off by the idea of drinking and "cruising" in a nursery? We'll see how it plays out, but at least for now it seems that the bar owners think it's a good idea.

Kinda gives a new nuance to "Hey, baby," though, doesn't it?

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