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‘Sitting’ at the bar

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The war between childless bar-goers and the so-called stroller Mafia has ended at one restaurant: the eatery is offering on-site babysitters to watch children in a separate room while their parents — and everyone else — dine and drink in peace.

Jeffrey Rodman, the owner of DUMBO’s Water Street Restaurant and Lounge, has contracted with a Manhattan company called Parent Play to provide babysitting during dinnertime at the restaurant, which is between Main and Dock streets in the increasingly kid-populated neighborhood.

“Anything’s better than having screaming children in a restaurant,” said Rodman.

Kids and bars. It’s an issue that has gained traction as more and more establishments have banned the stroller set (hello, Union Hall?) despite the risk of losing parents as customers.

Rodman’s solution was to bring in Parent Play.

Brian Kaplan, who founded Parent Play with his wife a year and a half ago, said the service was easy to use: Parents call the company to make both a dinner and babysitter reservation. At the restaurant, the babysitter, equipped with toys and play mats, gives the parents a “security card” — to prevent the child going home with the wrong adult — and then the babes go play while the parents eat.

There’s even a “curriculum” to help guide play-time — from music lessons to Spanish lessons to building blocks. Why shouldn’t your kid learn his “uno, dos, tres” while you’re having your first, second and third drinks?

Bob Maresca and his wife were one of four couples that used the service on Valentine’s Day.

“It gave us more of an adult experience,” said Maresca, who has a 10-month-old son. “He was on the play mat with the sitter, and they were playing with a little wooden train set. It was cute.”

“My wife and I enjoy having a date once in a while,” continued Maresca.

The cost of the service, even with Water Street footing some of the bill, is $18 for one child, $25 for two, and $30 for three.

The service is available at three Manhattan restaurants, Kaplan said; Water Street is thus far the only Brooklyn venue.

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Reader Feedback

Joseph from Carroll Gardens says:
KIDS DO NOT BELONG IN BARS! If your kid cannot behave in a restaurant that isn't child-themed, be a good parent and don't bring them there. I have no problem eating dinner next to a toddler that can behave him/herself. Infants will be infants and I comprehend that they cannot help themselves but toddlers are a direct derivitive of their parents. Please be conscienscious of your fellow, well paid, well behaved, toddler having, married couple.
March 6, 2008, 11:25 pm
theresa monforte from bayridge says:
i think this was a great idea. although i think people should always remember they were too once a child, i must agree it is nice once in a while to just eat a hot meal without the word mommy, mommy, mommy.
good luck and great thinking to the sitter service.
ps prices aren't bad!!!!!
March 7, 2008, 10:29 am
Emma from Brooklyn says:
Please tell me that after the parents have a few drinks, they do not drive their children home. It's bad enough that some people drink & drive, but please tell me not with children in the car.
March 10, 2008, 9:53 am
Charles from Park Slope says:
I think the issue is whether a child is with their parents, as opposed to parents with their child.

A real adult brings their child along with them when they go to places, and a regular bar would not be one. Many parents forget that their children are living with them, not the reverse. Adults should lead a family, always. In this scenario, as an adult, bringing your child to a bar is usually inappropriate.

In this story, however, the bar sounds more like a restaurant, and less a bar. Just take the kid off the bar stool ... bad habits start sometimes young.
March 11, 2008, 1:41 am

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