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A California restaurant doesn't allow children 'making loud noises' inside — and people don't know how to feel

INSIDER logoINSIDER 5/11/2018 sheller@businessinsider.com (Susanna Heller)

a sign on a wooden surface: no children sign © Provided by Business Insider Inc no children sign It seems like every restaurant has a gimmick these days, whether it's an Instagram-ready all-Avocado theme or a kitschy aesthetic. But one spot in Monterey, California, has a different idea.

Children who are "crying or making loud noises" are not allowed inside Old Fisherman's Grotto. The restaurant is serious about this policy — and people aren't sure what to make of it.

Chris Shake, the restaurant's owner, told INSIDER about the inspiration behind the rule. "We decided that it was important that our guests enjoy a great meal and not be distracted by children crying in our dining room," he said.

The restaurant hasn't allowed strollers or high chairs in its dining room since 2009 because they make "it difficult to have full access to get to and around tables," according to the establishment's website. In 2011, the "Children's Policy" was expanded to ban "disruptive" children from the dining room.

The sign and online warning act as a bit of a deterrent. "We have never refused families with children but often times they do not come in because we are very clear about our policy. If their children become disruptive in the dining room, they will be asked to leave," Shake said.

But that's not to say that children are automatically banned from eating there. "We have many families who dine with us with their children who are well behaved and understand our policy with respect to other diners," Shake said.

This policy has been in place for some time, and it often causes a bit of a stir. It recently generated a bit of a buzz when Angela Espinoza, the mother of a 19-month-old boy, shared a picture of the sign in a Facebook group for Bay Area moms and cautioned them about the restaurant's rules.

"The sign is discriminating toward any children who need a booster seat and younger no matter what ...  I also feel it's the wording, it's not nice at all. Maybe 'adults only' would be more understandable,"  Espinoza told KTVU.

Shake says the policy is legally sound according to provisions outlined by the federal and state government in California. "We made sure the wording in our policy was legally approved by our Attorney and was not going to be discriminating towards anyone," he said

Espinoza told KTVU she was planning to eat at the restaurant on her first night out without her son but canceled her reservation after seeing a photo of the sign on Yelp.

And she isn't the only person to take issue with the policy.

Several Yelp reviewers have shared their own gripes on the platform.

"At one point, another waitress told us people were complaining about our kids and could they be quiet. I've never been told to hush my kids before. When I made a comment to the waitress she told me there was a sign outside with rules for children ... They are apparently not joking", a user named Robin M. said of her experience. "She was not just unapologetic but incredibly rude about the whole incident."

"The service here is the worst. If you try to come here with kids, they will rudely turn you away ... no shame about it either," a woman named Winnie T. said.

For some people, the child-free dining experience is a selling point.

"This is what got me to go into this restaurant! Just the thought that I would be able to have a peaceful meal with no kids yelling, sometimes its needed," Alondra J. wrote. "In all seriousness, people need to not get so hurt by this. There was definitely kids inside the restaurant when we dined in. "

But Shake said the policy hasn't negatively impacted his business.

"What we have found regarding those who write negative reviews — mostly on Yelp —about our policy are those who have not dined here, but are offended by the sign and our policy," he said. "What the Yelp reviewers don't realize is that when they write a negative comment about our policy, they are helping us promote our children policy and the quiet dining we offer."

It seems as if things won't be changing at Old Fisherman's Grotto any time soon.

"The policy has worked out very well for our guests and our employees," Shake said. "Many of our guests comment that our policy is the reason they dined with us."

Related video: Chain Restaurants Required to Display Calories on Menus (Provided by Wochit News)

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