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A pub in Southampton has sparked mass debate after declaring it was to be 'adults only' - banning under 12s to save the boozer from becoming 'a creche'.
Landlady Lucy Draper announced the new no-child policy on the Facebook page of her pub, The Compass Inn, on Tuesday (1st September) as she banned youngsters from entering any time except Sunday lunchtimes.
Her viral post said: "From today, September 1, we are predominantly an adult-only premises.
"Children over 12 are permitted to dine on any date at any time, but children under 12 are only permitted at our [Sunday] 12pm and 2.30pm sittings."
However, many locals branded the move "inconsiderate" and "ridiculous," and complained that they were now unable to attend because of the sudden rule change.
Even threatening to boycott the establishment, in New Forest, Southampton, many parents claimed it was a big blow for kids with Coeliac disease, as the venue was seen by many as the 'only gluten-free pub' in the area.
Responding to the criticism, Lucy protested her pub intended to be an 'adult environment' and added that she'd 'had enough' of kids breaking social distancing rules at her establishment.
Lucy said she'd even had poor Tripadviser reviews from disgruntled customers who complained they had to leave due to poorly behaved kids.
"It's their parents' fault," she said. "They just don't discipline them, so 75 per cent of the children that come in now, they're screaming and running around and not sitting at tables.
"Families will come in here around 5 o'clock after their children have been in the park all day long and they're hyper. They should be taken home to bed."
Giving a specific example, she added: "The other day I had to move two tables out of one of our rooms because there was a family in there with four children and they couldn't hear themselves think.
"It's a great shame I've had to do it for some people, because we get quite a few nice children that have the allergy and I feel sorry for them.
"Especially with Covid now, everyone has to be seated in the pub, but they're not, and that's just brought it to a head and I've had enough."
The pub, which employs 12 staff, has three small rooms and can seat up to 35 people, with an extra 35 seats in the garden area.
As of yesterday, families with children are only allowed into the pub at 12pm and 2.30pm on Sundays and she insists doesn't plan on reversing her ban when the pandemic eases.
She claims she's always held the view that children should stay well-behaved and seated, and in the past she's put up notices saying she'll remove families with rowdy kids.
Discussing her decision to ban kids, Lucy said she thinks business could take a hit in the short-term but will pick back up again when locals feel the benefit of the boozer being child-free.
She insists customers she's spoken to in person are pleased with the move and those with children have been 'understanding', despite it being widely criticised online.
One such criticism comes from Jade Browne, who commented on Facebook: "This is absolutely ridiculous!
"You do know there's such a thing as coeliac children? So they miss out so all the "adults" can have somewhere nice to go? Terrible trading move! And the inconsideration to the children is appalling!
"Don't you think kids have suffered enough! Now being outcast and no there's not lots of places that cater for our coeliac children! You are about to lose a lot of customers! Bad move."
Fellow local Ray Avery vented: "So you've been happily taking families' money for years, but now you ridicule them. I bet you took their money on the eat out to help out scheme. Bloody jokers."
While Matthew Tomlin said: "That's one way to decrease your custom and upset an awful lot of people. My wife is coeliac and we have two young children.
"We've seen good reviews of the pub and have thought about making the trip. Not now, nor ever actually."
"Wow. What a massive shame," wrote Greg Walker, another disappointed punter.
"We've been regular customers for the past few years and only visited last week with my well behaved seven-year-old who sat nicely, didn't run around, said please and thank you to the staff, and said thank you and goodbye when we left.
The Compass Inn has been 100 per cent gluten-free for the past five years and Lucy has a gluten intolerance.
In response to the criticism, she claims she faced similar complaints in the past but thinks parents should take their boisterous kids to a more suitable pub in future, while gluten intolerant kids can visit on Sundays.
Lucy said: "I know it's going to upset some people, and I can see that on Facebook.
"It's just gone too far on there and it's just ridiculous. I'm not reading all the hundreds of comments or whatever it is.
"We've had a lot of reviews saying 'she's not child-friendly', 'she won't let children be children', well no [there] shouldn't be children in the pub.
"This pub is an adult environment. It shouldn't be a children's creche and most of my regulars are there every day or two to three times per week just for a quiet drink or meal."
She added: "We've never supplied high chairs, and we've never promoted children because we're an old-fashioned country pub, not one of those fancy chains with a nice family room.
"We've got 11 pubs in a square mile round here and there's probably four chain pubs that deal with children, with play areas, so I'm sorry, but they'll have to take their children there.
"I understand that we're number one for gluten-free in the area, but I have made sure there's a time for families to come on a Sunday and I hope they do still come in."
Some defended her decision on Facebook, claiming they were looking forward to some peace and quiet when they popped in.
Regular Alison Bridge penned: "The compass is a traditional pub and it's lovely to have somewhere that adults can have a relaxing meal.
"There are so many family pubs that welcome children and GF is being catered for widely now. Not everyone wants to go to a pub with children. It's nice to have somewhere relaxing to go."
Meanwhile, Sabrina Lianne Harris said: "Good move, any locals will know you're full with adults so it's not like this is going to affect your business.
"We need more mostly adults only places, it's nice to know poorly behaved kids won't be ruining our meal. Especially with Covid-19, where they go from annoying to potentially dangerous."
Should pubs go child-free? The jury is still out on this one...
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