Running a family-friendly business has its downsides, and over the years, Caruso’s — a “classy, intimate” Italian spot in Mooresville, North Carolina — has learned that those include food all over the floor, customers who shriek without warning, and a litany of electronic devices operating at max volume. Owner Pasquale Caruso realized the annoyances all had one thing in common — the diner’s age — so a few months ago, he banned kids under the age of 5. They’d started “to lose money and customers,” he told the local paper, so Caruso’s joined a long and infamous list of restaurants that have taken a stand against unruly kids.
What’s notable about Caruso’s situation, though, is that without kids, they’re now crushing it: The Washington Post checked in today on the joint, after a week of angry parents flooding its Facebook and Yelp pages with bad reviews, and discovered that while online commenters over in Peoria or Berkeley are vowing to boycott Carusco’s, the locals in the town have found themselves a hot new date spot. Manager Yoshi Nunez says the ban has caused a “dramatic increase” in reservations — about 80 per day instead of 50. “Every owner says, ‘I wish I could do it,’” Nunez tells the Post about the decision. “Our owner has the full support of the staff. We work here to make a living, too.”
Critics call it “#discrimination” and a “Slippery slope!” (the restaurant might boot out “all the elderly” next because “they take to long to eat”). But Caruso, a father of two, adds he’s personally got nothing against children — or, for that matter, presumably the elderly. They’re located in a strip mall, but he argues he still wants an atmosphere that feels “elegant,” so couples can enjoy a nice evening out over a bottle of wine and some $29 zuppa di pesce. People nearby “throwing food, running around, and screaming” at any age, he explains, made the place “feel like it wasn’t Caruso’s anymore, that it was a local pizzeria instead.”