Cafe wins support after closing children’s playroom because of “upsetting” and “disgusting” behaviour

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A Sydney cafe that says it was forced to dismantle its children’s playroom after badly-behaved customers refused to clean up their act, has won praise from social media users.

Claudette and John Osterberg, the owners of the Black Mocha Cafe in the northern Sydney suburb of Turramurra, decided to take down their kids’ playroom after staff and other patrons were exposed to “upsetting” and “disgusting” behaviour.

This included children breaking toys and ripping up books, washing their hands in customers’ glasses of water and stealing food from other people’s plates.

Read more: Queensland restaurant bans children under seven and goes viral on Facebook

In a Facebook post from earlier this week, the frustrated cafe owners described how they tried to communicate their concerns to customers back in February.

“Our cafe was designed with families in mind, [but] unfortunately we have been forced to make a decision that is heartbreaking for both sides,” the couple said.

“Our decision has been based on a number of factors … parents not respecting the dining experience of other patrons and the facilities provided for children. Polite requests from staff and management have been met with indignant responses. As a result, a kids’ playroom can no longer be provided.”

The café has received glowing praise for the decision, with numerous Facebook users saying they applaud the business’s “brave move”.

“Holy crap what kind of parents allow this behaviour?” one person wrote.

“I would be mortified if my kids did any of these things.”

Another person, who said she was a customer with a young child, said she will continue to support the cafe.

“Firsthand, I can testify to the disgusting behaviour you described,” the customer wrote.

“It’s sad that parents have put you in this position.”

Speaking to SmartCompany this morning, Black Mocha Cafe co-owner Claudette Osterberg said the children’s playroom closed last Friday.

“Unfortunately, parents are just not taking responsibility for their children,” Osterberg says.

“It’s not OK for any business to put up with that. These are people’s livelihoods, and when parents are asked if children could use an inside voice or not rip up toys, staff are abused. They shouldn’t disrespect staff that are just trying to do their job.”

Osterberg says while a few parents are upset by the announcement, others are finding the cafe is a much better environment.

“People are finding it a lot more pleasant to sit down and not have children bump into them and not open the doors constantly,” she says.

“We’re on a main road, so we do have to keep an eye on the children.”

Asked what advice she has for cafe owners or businesses having similar issues with badly behaved customers, Osterberg says she doesn’t want to give advice because every small business is different.

“It’s just that as a society, we need to look at what’s happening,” she says.

“There are some marvellous parents out there and some marvellous children, but it saddens me to close our room down. Our dream was to provide that playroom as we have children of our own.”

 

 

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Broede Carmody is SmartCompany's senior reporter. Previously, he was a co-editor of RMIT University's student magazine Catalyst.

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