'I was refused by D4 restaurant in case my little girl disturbed diners'
DEBATE: Owner Robbie Fox defends decision due to 'corporate' lunch trade
A YOUNG mother and her baby were refused entry into a top Dublin restaurant, because the manager doesn't want children disturbing other diners.
Well-known restaurateur Robbie Fox defended his decision to turn Caireann Smyth and her 15-month-old daughter Ava away from Belucci's restaurant in Ballsbridge.
"I don't like refusing people, Mr Fox said.
"Nobody can afford to be refusing people from their business, but the problem we have here is that at lunchtime between 12 and 2, it's very, very corporate.
"The last thing they want is to have a child in the restaurant."
Ms Smyth (32) told the Herald of her embarrassment of being told to leave by the manager.
"I had my daughter in the buggy and Robbie, the owner, came up to us and said, 'I'm sorry but we don't allow children in at this time, but that we were welcome to come back in the afternoon.
"He just said that there is a no children policy and I didn't press him any further because there were quite a few people around.
"It was quite embarrassing for me, being told to leave in front of a busy restaurant. We ended up going to the Four Seasons instead."
Concerned over what had happened, her husband and local Fine Gael councillor Dr Patrick Smyth called the business to speak with Mr Fox.
"He explained that he does not allow children into his Italian restaurant because it might disturb the bankers who eat there," Cllr Smyth said.
"I said that you cannot just discriminate against children. It's a vile practice to give priority to bankers over children.
"I don't care if it's legal or not, that is irrelevant. To me this is just morally objectionable," he added.
Mr Fox pointed out that the restaurant's website states that it "cannot cater for children under 12" between noon and 2pm on weekdays and on any evening after 7pm.
"I have children myself but this is purely a business decision that if I have children here at lunchtime then I won't have people in here doing business," he said.
"It's not anti-family, because on a Saturday and a Sunday, which are traditionally family days, we more than welcome families in here.
"You can't say that we are a place that's biased towards business people. It's just an environment that we try to create in the restaurant [on weekday lunchtimes], which is not conducive to children.
"I don't think that it's morally objectionable," he added.
Mr Fox said many people approve of his restaurant's policy saying that when the issue was previously raised on a radio station, a survey found that 68pc of listeners agreed with him.
"This is why people pay for babysitters," he said.
"I am of the opinion that its horses for courses.
"There are restaurants that are for families and that's what they set their stall out for, and we're not one of them," Mr Fox said.