It’s now pay to play at the Moxie Spot

Toy story: Nat Rubin, owner of the Moxie Spot, defended his decision to start charging an admission fee at his restaurant on the grounds that kids were destroying all the nice toys he’s been providing.
The Brooklyn Paper / Allyse Pulliam

A Brooklyn Heights restaurant has gone from kid-loving to kid-charging overnight, proving once again that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Tykes headed to the Moxie Spot, a restaurant and mega-playroom on Atlantic Avenue near Hicks Street, will now have to pay $2.50 just to enter the eatery — but owner Nat Rubin said he did it to help the kids, not punish them.

“We just want to make [the play center] viable for business,” said Rubin, who opened last fall, but quickly found that replacing chewed up toys, ripped up books and food-smeared games costs real money.

Rather than raise his reasonable food prices to cover the costs of new stuff, he put in place a fee from 9 am to 5:30 pm on weekdays (infants aren’t charged).

“We didn’t want to do it,” Rubin said, but cited the costs of repairing a DVD player and constantly buying new games. And, to sweeten the deal, Rubin said he is starting a frequent customer card program that allows patrons to save $10 for every $100 they load onto their Moxie Spot plastic.

Parents and caregivers are on Rubin’s side — to a point. After all, the children’s game-and-food emporium Chuck E. Cheese, at the Atlantic Terminal Mall, charges to use their arcade games.

“The charge isn’t that bad, and I know they have to replenish the toy supply pretty often,” said Elina Sheldon, who lives around the corner and brings her preschool-aged son to the Moxie Spot twice a week. “But if people buy food, they shouldn’t have to pay the charge.”

On Day Two of the new admission policy, a group of babysitters watched as their charges played among the toys, and said the fee might thin out the crowds that sometimes swarm the place.

“They should have started charging a long time ago,” said Cheryl Mason, who comes three times a week. “This place is awesome, it’s a good place to come in from the cold, and the kids have fun.”

The charge is moderate, parents said, noting that some nearby playrooms charge more, including Aunt Bee’s Backyard in Carroll Gardens, which charges $10 a day; and New York City Explorers in Boerum Hill, which charges $10 per family for a day-long admission.

‘Spot’ of bother: The Moxie Spot, a kid-friendly restaurant on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn Heights, has started charging an admission fee for kids, which some parents say makes the eatery no longer so kid-friendly.
The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

The Moxie Spot [81 Atlantic Ave., between Hicks and Henry streets in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 923-9710] is open Sunday-Thursday from 9 am–8:30 pm; Friday–Saturday from 9 am–9:30 pm. Visit www.themoxiespot.com for a full calendar of family events.

— with Evan Gardner

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