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Derry defends decisions by restaurants to turn away tots


Derry Clarke

Derry Clarke

Caireann Smyth and her daughter Ava

Caireann Smyth and her daughter Ava


Derry Clarke

RENOWNED chef Derry Clarke has said he doesn't open his business on Sundays because it would be "full of kids" that would "go riot".

Mr Clarke - who owns the Michelin-starred L'Ecrivain - made the remarks after the Herald revealed that a young mum and her baby were turned away from Belucci's in Ballsbridge, which has a no children policy on weekday lunchtimes.

The incident that saw Caireann Smyth (32) and baby Ava refused entry to the Ballsbridge establishment by manager Robbie Fox caused quite a stir, and some of Ireland's top restaurateurs have given their view on no-children policies.

Mr Clarke weighed in on the debate, stating that he "understood" Mr Fox's position.

"Well-behaved children are always welcome but I mean every parent thinks that their child is well behaved, don't they?" Mr Clarke said.


"Problems do arise with kids. That's why I don't open on a Sunday, because you know it's a restaurant that would be full of kids.

"It's dangerous. Kids just go riot. And there are hot plates, glasses, it's an obstacle course.

"It's (L'Ecrivain) just not a kids' restaurant. Having said that kids are welcome, I'm not saying they aren't. We just don't have high chairs, let's put it that way," Mr Clarke said.

Restaurateur Isaac Allen - husband of celebrity chef Rachel Allen -said his opinion was that no children policies are "a bit harsh" but also said that restaurants have to look after their "core clientele".

"I used to have two restaurants in Cork City," Mr Allen said. "One was a pizzeria where children were always welcome and one was a bistro which was more business centred.

"In a way you tend to look after your core clientele first.

"Children were not banned but it wasn't something that was encouraged during those hours."

Masterchef judge and owner of George's Street's Rustic Stone Dylan McGrath said that he was "absolutely not against" Belucci's no child policy.

"It depends on the restaurant," Mr McGrath said.

"Some people try a different approach and feel with their restaurants. I'm happy to have children in my restaurant at any time.

"But you know, some people feel it's an interruption. It depends on the clientele."

Yesterday the Herald reported how Caireann Smyth and her daughter were turned away from Belucci's at lunchtime on Thursday.

Ms Smyth told of her embarrassment of being told to leave: "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.


"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."

Mr Fox pointed out that the restaurant states on its website that it does not allow children on weekday lunchtimes - or after 7pm.

"I have children myself but this is purely a business decision that if I have children here at lunch time 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," he added.

"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.