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.