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Negotiating Canberra's cafes with kids

Braddon couple Dennis Ryan and Jane Gollie know not to bring their four-year-old son Hugo out to lunch without a few essentials.

Pencils and paper are supplied at Canberra's more child friendly venues, but Mr Ryan says technology works best.

“Your lifestyle changes when you become parents, you don't dine out as much,” he said.

“The reality is that kids behave better at home, when they have structure.

“So bringing a phone and some games along does help.”

After reading the bestseller French Children Don't Throw Food, Ms Gollie ordered Hugo food from the adult menu at Chifley cafe A Bite To Eat.


The book praises French parenting styles leads to kids sitting quietly at the dinner table, and eating their vegetables without complaint.

The acceptance of younger patrons is far from some of Melbourne's hip bars and restaurants who have banned kids.

The Raccoon Club's ban on minors has provoked an angry response from parents.

Bar Ettiquette has also discouraged young families, saying their patrons shouldn't have to modify adult behaviour.

While banning kids from service seems to be a new Melbourne trend, it is one the capital's bars and restaurants are unlikely to adopt.

A Bite To Eat staff member Joseph Mitchell said the cafe “would never consider banning children.”

"Mums and dads are some of our most valued customers. It's not usual that we get complaints from customers about kids, and the ones we do get are really well behaved."

It's much the same at Braddon's Lonsdale St Roasters 23.

“We don't have any plans to do that,” manager Cassie Buttrey said. “At other places I've worked, we might have had a few complaints but it's not so much here as we're a lot more fast-paced.”

“People just stay here for half an hour to enjoy a coffee and panini, and less than 5 percent of customers bring their kids along.”

Even venues that align themselves with Melbourne's hip style aren't keen on the child ban.

Tongue and Groove boasts 'Melbourne's hospitality expertise' on their website, but the city restaurant and bar entertains young families too.

“On Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons, we'll have families coming in after their shopping is done, to have tapas and drinks.”

“But we've never, ever refused service to parents with kids and babies.”

Canberra's parents can rest assured that there are plenty of venues willing to serve them with children in tow.

But Ms Gollie says any parent should know when to exercise caution.

“Recently we went out with Hugo and some of his friends. They were noisy, as kids are when they get together, and other customers were getting annoyed,” she said.

“I had the most horrible time, so I don't recommend bringing a group of six.”


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