Kids no longer welcome in Charlottetown bar

Jim Day
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East Side Mario's in Charlottetown.

East Side Mario’s keeping family restaurant portion separate from bar area

Kevin Gallant of Cornwall enjoyed taking his boys, ages 13 and 3, to the bar once a week.

Of course, his sons would not have any alcohol. In fact, Gallant (not weatherman Kevin “Boomer” Gallant) didn’t choose the lounge area of East Side Mario’s in Charlottetown so he could order up a beer or two. He just went for the food and, in particular, the good prices.

The bar would offer half-price appetizers that made for a tasty, relatively inexpensive meal for Gallant and his two lads.

So Gallant was upset to learn earlier last week that the restaurant had decided to change its policy to no longer allow minors in the lounge area at any time.

Unfortunately, he says the appetizer specials only apply to the bar area after 5 p.m. when Gallant would normally take his boys out to dinner.

The change has left Gallant vowing to steer clear of this particular restaurant.

“I think it is a little bit of segregation there,’’ he says.

“It doesn’t seem right, especially when the kids aren’t to blame.’’

However, restaurant owner Kevin Murphy says the policy change, made about eight months ago, was done so with the intention of making the environment of each area of the restaurant as pleasing as possible to customers overall.

He notes East Side Mario’s is “mostly family’’ but the bar area is perhaps better off without minors for all concerned.

“We’re trying to please as many of our guests as we can,’’ he says.

Restaurants and bars are at liberty to set their own rules within the confines of the province’s Liquor Control Act, notes Jamie MacLeod, director of corporate services with the Liquor Control Commission.

He says many establishments are divided into dining and lounge areas.

Minors can eat in a licensed dining room with supervision.

Minors can eat in a licensed lounge, which can sell liquor without a meal but can also sell food, provided a parent or legal guardian accompanies them.

Many parents apparently like to have this option.

In fact, two years ago the commission increased to 10 p.m. from 8 p.m. how late minors accompanied by parents or guardians were allowed to be in a lounge area. Restaurant owners in downtown Charlottetown had conveyed their desire to accommodate families looking to go for a meal past 8 p.m., perhaps after taking in an evening show.

However, licence holders can set an earlier time than the 10 p.m. cap when minors are allowed in a lounge with parents or guardians. They can even disallow minors in their licensed lounge areas at all times, but this is rare, notes MacLeod.

MacLeod says Boston Pizza and now East Side Mario’s are the only two establishments that come to mind.

Murphy lauds the Liquor Control Commission for allowing restaurant owners flexibility.

“The policy of the Liquor Control Commission has been very progressive,’’ he says.

“There is quite a diverse offering on the Island.’’

MacLeod notes that minors are not allowed in lounge areas if there is live entertainment unless the licencee has received prior approval.

He adds that minors are not allowed in licensed establishments when trivia or karaoke is taking place.

Organizations: Liquor Control Commission, Boston Pizza

Geographic location: East Side Mario, Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • Welcome to the Gentle Island
    May 05, 2014 - 07:41

    Only in PEI, Fight, fight, fight. I have just come from months in the US. It is not even noticed. I didn't see anybody in bars/restaurants getting roaring drunk either.

    May 04, 2014 - 11:49

    Deciding not to go to ESM's s hardly a big loss, red sauce and pasta, or recooked prepackaged food, yumm!

  • Ryan MacDonald
    May 03, 2014 - 10:42

    Why is this on the front page of the paper. This is an issue between this guy and him not liking the perfectly legal choice this bar owner maid. Honestly if he has enough time on his hands to complain about someone not letting his kids into A BAR, then I think he needs to get his priorities straight.

  • .....
    May 02, 2014 - 18:02

    This guy would be the first one to complain when he takes his kids to the bar side, and hears swearing from other customers.

  • new clients
    May 02, 2014 - 17:19

    Ummm...I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that the only reason for this change is to bring in a different crowd..Murphy is trying to make more money by bringing in more drinkers instead of eaters...he wants more liquor sales..he wants the younger "drunker" crowd to hit East Sides..he likes money and he sees this as an opportunity to make more of it.

  • Jimbo Johnson
    May 02, 2014 - 16:23

    Kids in the bar up until 10:00pm if food is being served??? I'm ok with parents using their own discretion on food establishments for thei family. If I were a bar owner, I would not allow anyone under the legal age to enter my bar period. Kids taking seats up until 10:00pm are keeping the booze hounds from settling in, that is where the profit is!!! It's not from people bringing a whole family for 1/2 price appetizers, it's from those who order the cheap appetizers and wash them down with a jug of beer, that's the demographic that pays the bills in this business. This decision totally about profit; it's a sound business decision and I would have done the same.

  • krusty heyhey
    May 02, 2014 - 15:44

    Great, now MY kids will have to wait in the car while I have a few!! There goes my Dad of the year award. Heyhey kids!!

  • Lea Miller
    May 02, 2014 - 13:42

    Not that long ago I was in a restaurant and they put me in the bar section. I watched people at 5 pm drinking and getting loud. Do you really want to have your children watch that and think that is appropriate behavior. If you want to teach them values don't do it in a bar.

  • milk man
    May 02, 2014 - 12:24

    So why doesn't the restaurant just offer the special in the whole restaurant. Sounds silly. Considering what they have been trying to have for cavendish and liquor this summer. Seems pretty humorous that Murp is breaking up the Kids and Adults at his restaurant.

  • Kellie
    May 02, 2014 - 12:23

    No other spot in Charlottetown offers half price apps everyday so instead of bashing East Side's why not be happy that they offer such a great promotion, even when they don't have too. When they made this switch 8 months ago they, they started doing half price apps in the Dining Room as well to accommodate families with kids until 5pm. As I stated before, East Side Mario's does a lot of discounting and promotions so I am grateful for that. There are restaurants in Charlottetown that don't offer any type of discounting at all. I have a coupon at home now for $15 off an online order of $30 or more (came with a bunch of other offers in the mail). For everyone complaining about this, you will still go to East Side Mario's because they have great value and promotions.

  • John Baltic
    May 02, 2014 - 10:27

    Bravo and kudos to Kevin Murphy. And how in the world is this front page news? Not everyone likes to be around kids and most certainly don't expect kids in a bar area. Many people don't even go to restaurants that feature promos such as "Kids eat free" because of the atmosphere. Half price apetizers have always been geared to an adult crowd. Zero sympathy for the Kevin Gallants of world from me!

  • Tim
    May 02, 2014 - 10:25

    So this policy has been in place for 8 months and he's just complaining about it now? And he's been going in all the time with his kids, eh? Weekly!? ... Doubt it. Kids do not belong in a bar atmosphere, plain and simple. Regardless of whatever promotion they have going on Im sure there is a legitimate reason they moved in this direction. Maybe customers felt uncomfortable drinking in front of minors. I know I wouldn't feel comfortable drinking and joking around with my friends and having a 7 year old sit next to me. Boston Pizza applies the same regulations but there is no article on that is there. Guess its not Murphy owned so why fuss about it right? I applaud East Side Mario's for this change and will absolutely eat and drink there knowing I can sit amongst adults and in adult friendly atmosphere. Thought the Guardian had better stuff to publish than this garbage. If you want to write an article about the industry how about writing an article on tipping. I bet that will spark a debate! This man needs worry about being a father to his children and not worry about getting his 3 and 13 year old into a Charlottetown bar. Grow up, have some common sense and sit on the other side. This is not about segregation, its about setting an example for our youth. Sincerely, Society.

  • Get Real!!
    May 02, 2014 - 09:28

    For those of you passing judgement on the man for taking his kids to a very mild mannered and safe bar once a week, just take a pill. It's a bar with TVs showing sports and from my experience, the bar is usually filled with people looking to have a couple beers and food; couples and generally mature individuals looking for a relaxed atmosphere. I'm sure if the bar was full of inebriates that were cursing and fighting, he would take his kids elsewhere. To me it sounds like he had established a tradition with his children that I'm betting they really enjoyed. Also, there is no way for anyone to know, from this story, what other activities the man does with his kids. So, just relax. Having said that and on the topic of the restaurant's policy change, they have every right to make the change and I'm sure that some of the patrons will be pleased as a result. It is unfortunate that the appetizer specials are not offered in the dining room but such is life.

  • Jenn
    May 02, 2014 - 09:22

    Can't believe that kids were ever allowed into the bar section. Certainly not allowed here in NS. With a restauant that has a "separate" bar area, no one under 19 allowed in bar area. Now if it is a free standing bar, not attached onto restaurant, under 19 allowed until 8? pm. I do not see why the cheaper appies not available on both sides though.

  • Annoyed
    May 02, 2014 - 09:07

    Just a couple of comments...the article does state that this "new rule" has been in place for 8 months, but let's be honest, they have only started enforcing it the last little bit, as I too used to enjoy going. Sometimes with my whole family, 2 children included & sometimes not! Gasp!!!!! Horrible parent alert! Oh wait, it doesn't make me a horrible parent because once in a while we like our family to eat out at restaurants. This doesn't take away my ability to provide quality parenting for my children. In fact it provides them with new experiences and allows opportunities for new learning! Also as someone mentioned above most families are taking their children out for lunch or supper not late night snacks. So sitting in the Liberty Bar at that time of day is no different than visiting other establishments such as The Factory, Hunter's, St.James Gate, The Old Triangle & The Old Dublin Pub or even other Murphy's Establishments such as Merchantman, and Gahan House. Where might I add have always been very welcoming and accommodating of "families-with children", some more than others & depending on staff of course. Now, all of these places have bars, and all of these places serve alcohol, but they also serve food which is what these families are mainly after! The other side of East Side Marios also serves alcohol, but I believe the problem here is, that the other side doesn't offer the same half price appetizers. Simple solution! Families or not, all should be given the same opportunities regardless of where they have to sit! As I'm sure you can all tell, I too am annoyed at the decision to this so kudos to Gallant for speaking out! The rest of you ignorant folks need to stop judging this man, this father as he hasn't done anything wrong but share an opinion which is what every one is entitled to!

    • And Yet
      May 02, 2014 - 10:46

      Everyone is entitled and yet those that disagree with your are "ignorant". Not much of a hypocrite are you?

    • justsaying
      May 02, 2014 - 11:03

      The 1/2 price apps are offered in the restaurant AND the bar, different times of the day, but they are still available. Besides the kids menu is cheap and gives my children everything they like, a meal, drink, dessert, and a toy.

    • LA
      May 02, 2014 - 14:35

      If you want to be considered the reasonable person here, refrain from calling others ignorant for being of the opinion, quite understandably, that a bar maybe shouldn't have kids in it and that there are plenty of other venues to choose from. Your long, hysterical post does nothing to convince me that you are entitled to call others names.

    May 02, 2014 - 08:00

    I totally agree with the bar owners. What responsibly person would take his three year old to a bar to get half price food? The people in this province are starting to lose the little common sense they have left. You want to eat at the bars, leave you kids out of it and stop blaming others because you are too cheap to feed your kids in a proper place for them.

    • Really??
      May 02, 2014 - 08:50

      I am just in awe of most of these comments. The major issue at play here is the fact that East Side ONLY offers the 1/2 price apps at the bar, not that he wants to eat at the bar. Many people like to take their kids out for food with a higher quality that McDonalds and such but can not afford to and 1/2 price apps make that possible. If Murphy wants to remove kids from the bar area than good on him I support the decision as there are lots of reasons they should not be there but he should at least be made to present the same prices to parents and children who he has taken the access away from. What is the difference in saying you can't get this because you have kids and you can't get it because you are black/gay/whatever? If it were any of these discriminations the community would be crucifying them for it. Bottom line is Murphy can make it possible to have both but is choosing not to.

    • Really???
      May 02, 2014 - 10:32

      Stop embarrassing yourself for gods sake. Comparing the restriction of kids in a bar to racism is an idiot argument. Suggesting we force a business owner to offer lower prices in other parts of the establishment is an idiotic argument.

  • responsible parenting
    May 02, 2014 - 07:34

    here's a thought... rather than taking small kids to a bar for appetizers, where they are exposed to drunks and all sorts of other not so great adult behaviours, either take them to a family restaurant, OR better yet: take them home. Treat them to a nutritious home-cooked meal, and teach them the valuable life skill of "how to cook" by getting them involved in preparing the meal. I've never seen a child who didn't love to be included in kitchen activities, cooking, baking, or just mixing whatever to make their own creations. This dad needs some guidance on parenting.

  • Steddy
    May 02, 2014 - 07:31

    Your comments are all crazy. Why should he be allowed or anyone be able to bring there kids into a bar. They shouldn't because that's the law. Good for the Murphy's for saying so. This Gallant guy really you come on here going on about half price apps and a couple beers. Parent of the year award. Kids do not belong in bars period

  • Sam
    May 02, 2014 - 07:20

    Seriously people, we are talking about 5:00 pm, not late evening. It's like telling an older person they aren't allowed at a concert because they will probably find it too loud. And as far as being a bar, it's set up more as a dining establishment, You want a beer without kids, go to Ises which is 5 feet away.

    • By that logic
      May 02, 2014 - 09:02

      If you want to have food with your kids then go to East Side Marios which is 5 feet away.

    • responsible parent
      May 02, 2014 - 10:13

      Sam, the owners are clearly saying that their bar is a bar (just like Izes) and not a kid's hangout. They already have a nice restaurant and a good place for families to take their kids to eat. That's the whole point of their decision here. And it's a good decision. Kudos to Kevin Murphy.

    • Kenny
      May 02, 2014 - 18:27

      Actually, if you speak with Mr Gallant, you would probably be surprised to find out that the Manager actually told him that they would extend the special in Izes if he wanted to take his family in there to eat, which is a bar (OMG). They actually extended the special to him for any time he wanted to eat in the restaurant as well. He just didn't feel that the half price app special should be extended to him only, he thought it should be extended to everyone until 6:00 pm to be fair. That is actually the issue. He just wanted fair treatment for everyone. The bar at this establishment is set up more like a pub/restaurant that everyone at some time or other has had their kids to. To tell anyone that they shouldn't have their children in a restaurant and to stay home? Wow. Isn't this 2014? I am not sure what is wrong with PEI but there is a lot of discrimination against children.

  • good decision
    May 02, 2014 - 07:12

    I think this is a very smart decision. Young children don't belong in bars or lounges where they will be exposed to other adults under the influence and whatever behaviours go along with that. If you want to take them out to dinner, a family restaurant is the appropriate place to go, not a bar. This is about a dad who is thinking only of himself and his own wants, not what is best for his young kids.

  • Grumpy
    May 02, 2014 - 06:23

    Take your kids home and feed them a home cooked meal instead of that crap.

  • Tippy
    May 02, 2014 - 04:18

    Listen kellie if this restaurant is going to be offering cheap appetizers why is it just in the bar area it should be the whole restaurant besides this move doesn't surprise me just another typical move by the Murphy group seems like there always changing things up there establishments in my mind are going down hill. It's sad as well that they own mostly everything in town not much room for competition.

    • Common Sense
      May 02, 2014 - 09:09

      It's half price in the bar area because they are using the appetizers to get people in to drink. A little common sense goes a long way people.

  • Justin
    May 02, 2014 - 03:16

    Yet another busy body islander trying to tell a business owner how he should run his business. Seems amazing the amount of islanders who think they should tell business owners how they run their business yet none of these so called expert islanders actually operate a business of their own. I actually applaud the change and wish they would remove kids from more bars. there is NOTHING worse then being out for beer with couple friends and having to watch our language or what we say because their kids there. Parents should know enough to keep their kids out of bars and obviously this guy doesn't so good see Murphy looking after his kids for him.

    • Lindsay
      May 02, 2014 - 08:30

      I couldn't agree more. I have two children and love them to death, but if I go to a bar they are the last people I want with me! Bars and lounges are there to cater to adults. Not for families.

  • wendy grant
    May 01, 2014 - 23:48

    Alot of families are looking for that family atmosphere to take their children for a meal. Curtain of an area for booze but don;t throw the patrons to the curb. You will lose more then you would gain`word of mouth goes a long way. I wouldn;t go to your proprty if that is how you choose to serve families the way you do .

    • good decision
      May 02, 2014 - 07:16

      Wendy, they do have an area "curtained off" from the boozing in the bar - it's called the RESTAURANT that adjoins the building. And if you have ever been in a bar, you'd know that drunks are loud, they curse, swear, fight, talk about sex, drugs, and a bunch of other things that I know I definitely don't want my young kids exposed to. No responsible parent would want to take their youngsters to a lounge

    • Liam
      May 02, 2014 - 18:33

      Obviously you haven't had your kids there. It's not a completely separate area. I have traveled across Canada and the US with my little boy and I have never been turned away from any place. All restaurants serve alcohol. If it serves alcohol and food, what the hell is the difference. If you want to curse, swear and drink, then you will get removed from any establishment you are in. Everyone here making comments were children once. Grow up and wait until a bit later at night when kids are in bed if they bother you so much.

  • Steve
    May 01, 2014 - 22:49

    A bar is no place for kids. Most people enjoy the bar after a long get away from the kids.

  • Customer
    May 01, 2014 - 22:41

    It's not a bad thing at all. I don't know many that it will affect, considering, it's not much of a place for kids. Your llooling for cheap, I suggest taking children to McDonalds, there, you can get a happy meal, toy, and play, for real cheap! I was In a establishment not far from the above spoken resturant this evening, and had a waitress go from waiting on customers at the bar, to the poker machine, ( drinking her alcohol beverage, and taking table orders here and there ( when the other waitress was run off her feet) and back to the poker machines. Point being, I'm just glad my child wasn't with me. Not a very good example, let alone much of a waitress! Not too many places fit to eat at anymore!!!

    • Jessie
      May 02, 2014 - 07:25

      I wouldn't take my kids to MacDonalds. Disgusting food and it's dirty. If you want your kids to get sick take them there, The only ones against kids in there is mostly people like my ex husband and his brother. They didn't think kids should even be in places like Sams.

  • Ella
    May 01, 2014 - 22:14

    Surprised they wouldnt extend half price apps in the restaurant to match that of the bar. Also surprised that they have an issue with minors at all, especially supper time. Glad Mr Gallant spoke up, prejudice against children is wrong.

    • By that logic
      May 02, 2014 - 09:07

      So kids should be able to buy alcohol at the LCC then. If you disagree with that then you are discriminating against kids.

  • Keefe H
    May 01, 2014 - 21:45

    "Kids not welcome in bar" ... Makes sense to me

  • Kellie
    May 01, 2014 - 21:13

    Who cares if your kids can't get half price apps anymore in the bar at East Side Mario's. We go there every week because their servers are great with our kids and they are always offering coupons and discounts so we never pay full price anyways. It's interesting that Mr Gallant goes there every week yet this rule has been in place for 8 months...

    • Ella
      May 01, 2014 - 22:23

      He might have meant he takes hiskids out to eat once a week Kellie. Wouldnt you be surprised if you were turned away from a place you have eaten at before. Feel like a slap in the face. Funny how Hunters and other bars have no problem with kids And the issue wasnt about the wait staff if you read the article