Draft vs. Baby Bottle: The Beer Garden Debate

Narcissistic parents who let their can-do-no-wrong offspring run rampant in bars. Children-hating philistines who cannot wrap their heads around the time-honored European institution of a child-friendly beer garden. Horrendous role models. Pandering bar owners. Crybaby hipsters. Moms and dads who refuse to grow up. Filthy, smelly children.

It seemed there was something or someone to hate for every reader in this week’s article about Greenwood Park, a new beer hall on the fringes of Park Slope, Brooklyn, that has rolled out the welcome mat to families — spurring a decidedly mixed reception. Here, excerpted in some cases, are a few of the more than 250 comments we received:

I recently visited my sister in Park Slope on a beautiful weekend and stopped by this “beer garden” for what was advertised. After half an hour watching crying kids in strollers with parents (guardians?) too self-absorbed to notice, we left. My sister apologized, saying: “This used to be a neighborhood for adults. Now, nothing’s safe.”
— Greg Pitts, Boston

The same twentysomethings that complain about kids now will soon be pushing $1,500 strollers and giving dirty looks to anyone who doesn’t get out of their way fast enough as they come barreling down the sidewalk on their phone, Starbucks in hand, en route to their mommy-and-baby yoga class.
— J-rock, Toronto

Some people find toddlers on scooters annoying. Other people feel the same way about sloshed bachelorettes, skeevy guys hitting on women half their age, Wall Streeters in suits or bad karaoke singers. (I happen to be one of the latter.) Find a bar or venue that has the kind of people you like and doesn’t have the kind of people you are hoping to avoid.
— Rachel M, Brooklyn

This arrangement is perfectly normal in much of the world – Sunday lunch in a British pub? Summers in German beer gardens? Cafes in piazzas and plazas in Italy and Spain? Only here is everyone so fixated on walling off children from adult behavior and vice versa.

Parents, don’t let your kids run around screaming like banshees, and go to the bathroom to change their diapers, and don’t complain about adults using adult language in adult conversations. Adults sans kids, don’t snarl at the mere thought of having a kid in your line of sight while downing a pint.

Let everyone enjoy some multigenerational time that does not relegate parents to the netherworld of play groups and sanitized children’s spaces, and does not cocoon children off or shield their eyes from the genuine behavior and life of the rest of the real world.

— dr.reba, Gainesville, FL

The owner of this business decided to make his business friendly and welcoming to a major market segment in a nearby neighborhood. That is entirely his choice, and it sounds like it’s working well for him. Those who don’t like it should vote with your feet and wallets and go elsewhere.

This is nothing more than a business owner making a smart business decision. He saw a gap in the market — bars that were overtly friendly to parents (not just grudgingly tolerant) — and exploited it.

— Gary, New York NY

Drinking in front of your children at such an early age is completely irresponsible. Exposing them to the vulgar language and obscene gestures that come from alcohol-serving environments is equally irresponsible. If you didn’t want to give up your vices, then you were not ready to have kids.

— roy, new york ny

Take pity on the parents that they have so few options for going out to bars and restaurants. I’m also not sure what is so awful about having children around when you are drinking, especially at such a large place. People should mind their own business. If you feel uncomfortable having a beer with children around, maybe you have guilt issues with your own alcohol consumption.

— AlexB, Astoria, NY

When did it become acceptable to bring children into a bar? Can’t these people afford sitters for an hour or two?

— Brooklyn Democrat, NY

It’s hard to say which group is more obnoxious: the overentitled stroller terrorists or the whiny singles who can’t abide seeing a diaper changed.

— Bob, Munich, Germany

If you can’t deal with the playground, stay out of the schoolyard.

— StatenManhattan, SI-10001

Sixty years ago, my parents, my much older half siblings and my aunt and uncle spent a great deal of time in bars. Since they enjoyed each other’s company so much, we children were always there. I remember one joint had a Christmas party for kids in the back room. These bars became a big part of our lives. You know, I could go on and on, but the bottom line is I ended up an alcoholic.

— Tom Franzson, Brevard, NC

If I lived in Park Slope, I would want to drink. A lot. To escape kids, and their parents (among other things).

— LN, Los Angeles

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