Several years ago, I was having a late-afternoon beer at a Durham brewery when I noticed something I hadn’t seen before. There were nearly as many kids around – mostly preschoolers — as there were adults.
I was stunned, mainly because my parents would have blown a gasket if I had taken my kids when they were young to what would have been considered a bar. I found a sippy cup on a table, and asked whose beer it was. A small child came toddling up and grabbed it.
My husband pointed out that many of the kids seemed to be part of a group event gathered there, and he didn’t really have a problem with it. And looking around, I realized that a lot of the families had probably walked over to the brewery from nearby neighborhoods.
Later that evening when my husband and I moved inside the brewery, I was surprised again when two unsupervised kids took over a small performance stage, banging on keyboards and playing with the mics. Where were their parents?
I remembered this episode when I read that Hi-Wire Brewing in Durham has imposed a curfew of 8 p.m. for those under the age of 21. The original plan was for a 7 p.m. curfew, but after push-back on social media, they moved it up an hour.
At the other brewery, I asked fellow Baby Boomers there what they thought of a kid-friendly brewery. Most were equally thrown off by it, having never actually thought about taking their own kids out for a drink.
So Hi-Wire Durham generated quite a bit of discussion on its Facebook page when it proposed the 7 p.m. curfew. Some thanked the brewery for trying to be more of an adult space and for reigning in the challenge of “kids running wild.” Others shared their frustration that the brewery’s position appeared to discriminate against parents who just wanted a little time out of the house to mingle with other parents.
In the end, the brewery decided on an 8 p.m. curfew, so beer drinkers who prefer a more adult environment can have their space, while families are still welcome afternoons and early evenings. And the brewery says they are planning to create a space where kids can hang out.
Maybe the same scrutiny could be applied to dog-friendly breweries, which is almost every brewery. While there are people who love to take their dogs wherever they go, others can’t be in the same space as dogs, either out of fear or because of allergy problems.
I guess the question for any business becomes how to be all things to all people? How do you welcome the toddler and terrier, as well as adult drinkers who prefer to a more mature brewery experience – and the darts players, the game watchers and the trivia champions?
Hats off to Hi-Wire Durham for trying to walk that line…
Post from the Hi-Wire Facebook page:
UPDATE: Thanks to everyone for offering input into our updated taproom policies. Your enthusiasm for our space here in Durham is much appreciated! We’ve made some slight adjustments to the rules going forward. We’re also in the process of creating a space for younger children to enjoy, and working on some sound dampening for the taproom. Hopefully these updates will result in a great experience for everyone. We are proud to be a gathering place for the community, and welcome families and pets into our taproom and beer garden. Hope to see everyone soon!
– Please see bar staff for equipment to play games
– Soccer Pool and other game areas are intended only for guests that have checked-in with the bar
– Children must be under supervision of their guardian at all times
– Guests must be 21+ after 8 p.m.