Lisa, over at Life Without Baby, has just posted about losing an important little bistro near her. It's not closing, it's going "family friendly." And in a move designed to bring in more people, they're making her feel that she doesn't belong.
I've written about this before, in a slightly different context. I wish that everyone had a place where they felt they belonged, whether it is a family friendly cafe, a fine dining restaurant for adults only, a gay bay, a geeky store, or a shop for people with long feet! When I was grieving my ectopic losses, I found it hard to find a cafe where I felt I belonged. I had recently left my full-time job, so didn't feel comfortable in the CBD cafes full of people in suits having business meetings, but equally I felt miserable at the cafes clogged with mums, babies, strollers and toddlers, along with the brightly coloured playgrounds and heightened decibel levels and children who would come up to me at my table when I was trying to blank out the environment to take in some caffeine and a magazine.
But I am pleased to report that my husband and I have been lucky to find a place where we feel comfortable. Our favourite brunch place is run by two guys, and it has a pleasant, relaxed, but sophisticated ambience, great food and an excellent wine list. Clientele includes young adults through to 90 year olds from the old people's home down the road. And Saturdays, around 1 pm when we go, is the day and time for regulars. There's the multi-racial gay couple, the middle-aged couple who always have a bottle of wine, the grandson with his grandparents doing a good turn, a few families with older children, two elderly women enjoying a special lunch out (I love that), and usually two or three younger women enjoying a Sunday catch up. And, of course, us.
Gary and David who run the restaurant are consummate professionals, chatting to all the regulars, and making everyone feel comfortable. Children and babies are welcome, but rarely seen. Gary and David have just made a business decision not to make their restaurant specifically "family friendly." There's no playground, and the menu doesn't cater to children either. Two cafes just fifty metres down the road fill this gap, as does another one about a mile away. Everyone is catered for. And so they fill a niche - suburban dining in a calm and elegant environment, one that is blissfully child free.
This place has been our saviour over the last ten years or so. It has been somewhere we could go and feel normal, accepted, and happy. We're not deafened by children or babies at the table next door. We
don't have to smile and be polite if a child decides to run around or
come and play on the back of our chair. That doesn't happen here.
Parents either don't bring their children, or keep them well-behaved
while they're there. In those days when we were raw and in pain after loss, we knew we wouldn't have awkward encounters or painful reminders there. Even now, if we're having a bad day, it's generally a safe place. Here, we're accepted for who we are.
It's a place where we can relax and have a nice lunch, a good glass of wine, and a good conversation. It's somewhere where we make decisions, discuss family troubles or travel plans, where we sum up the week, and make plans for the future. It's somewhere where we can linger if we want, or dash off if we're in a hurry. Where there's always extra bacon, where summer salads are delicious, and where the winter mushrooms are to die for. And where the lemon tart "sweet treats" are so delicious, that I begged Gary for the recipe (and he gave it to me). When we go, regardless of what we order, it is always a treat. It cheers me up for the day.
I'm so glad we can go there (though we're having to cut back till we get more regular income). And I would be devastated if they closed. Do you have a special place like this?