On a typical Saturday or Sunday at Pig Beach, a beer garden with locations in Gowanus and Astoria, the families come early. They line up at 11:15 or 11:30 so when the bar opens at noon they can get their hands on top tables.
Thirsty moms and dads order some brew skis for themselves and hot dogs and Rice Krispie treats for their posterity. The kids mess around with the cornhole play and colorful chalk the bar offers, while their world-weary parents take a little break without jumping on a babysitter.
“We call [them] ‘the stroller patrol,” Shane McBride, director of Pig Beach, told The Post.
Bars and breweries in the city, especially those with outdoor space, are increasingly targeting the kid crowd. After the last two years, parents could use a drink – or three – and local watering holes are happy to serve them. But some say it’s just not so much fun to kick back a pint in front of little customers.
“I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: I don’t hang out in their playgrounds, and I don’t want them in my bars,” Mike Burmil, a member of the NYC Craft Beer Club Facebook group, told me. The Post. “Parents, if you think you’re cool because you can take your kids to a brewery/brewery, you’re not. Why stop there? How about a casino? A strip club?”
But local business owners say that allowing children will bring in dollars and cents.
Radegast Hall & Biergarten in Williamsburg was strictly 21 and older for many years, but in 2018 it started admitting children during the day after customers requested it.
“A lot of our regular customers started having kids around that time and we still wanted to be able to take them in,” said manager Sean Snyder.
But younger clients present some complications.
“We’ll get the parent there to have a few drinks, to talk to their friends. . . [they let their kids think] it’s a playground and we almost become the actual babysitters,” said Pig Beach’s McBride, admitting that the kid crowd can get out of hand during the afternoon.
And some customers without children are not following the trend.
Ray Garvey, a 26-year-old golf professional from Massapequa, Long Island, said kids in bars are a frustrating distraction when he’s “just trying to enjoy a few beers with friends.”
“They yell, yell and run around. . . it is unbearable to look in from the outside,” he said. “I really don’t understand why parents do it and expect the rest of the place not to suffer.”
Others, like Kajsa Nilsson, a 41-year-old woman from Sweden who enjoys an extended stay in NYC, also dislike the pro-kid policy because of the feeling it gives her about her own life.
“It’s frowned upon where I come from, and I don’t like it here. I feel judged by parents for not having children,” she said.
But some childless twenty-somethings are fine with it.
“As long as they’re well behaved and watched, it really doesn’t bother me at all,” said Chris Willis, 27, of Williamsburg.
And parents are a growing army eager to win this battle.
James Holdsworth, a 32-year-old living in Williamsburg, recently grabbed a beer with his 18-day-old son, George, and 33-year-old friend, Marcus Williams, in Radegast. The trio had a great time and Holdsworth, who brought a special thermometer to make sure the temperature in the beer hall was safe for his newborn, plans to make it a regular outing.
“It can be very easy to lose your old life when you have a child, and that’s something my wife and I don’t want to happen to us,” Holdsworth said. “Yes, I’m a father now, but I still like to come in for a beer after work.”