Landlord bans children from pub
By Jenni DixonA PUB landlord has caused a stir in an upmarket seaside resort by banning children from the premises - and vinegar too.Nigel France, 52, took over the Kings Head pub in Southwold two months ago and has caused controversy by putting signs outside the premises stating the it was “Uniquely adult friendly” and “No pre-teenage children were allowed”.
By Jenni Dixon
A PUB landlord has caused a stir in an upmarket seaside resort by banning children from the premises - and vinegar too.
Nigel France, 52, took over the Kings Head pub in Southwold two months ago and has caused controversy by putting signs outside the premises stating the it was “Uniquely adult friendly” and “No pre-teenage children were allowed”.
Mr France said: “Three weeks after I took over I realised I could not take it anymore. Only a minority of people control their children.
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“I have two gorgeous children, now 24 and 28, but that does not mean I have an affinity with other people's.
“Children on one table may cause problems for people on three other tables. If I see a kid running around, I worry about the table next door.”
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He added: “If I wanted to run a crèche, then I would run a crèche and I take my hat off to kindergarten teachers - I don't know how they do it.
“It's not a negative thing - families are spoilt for choice in Southwold as all other pubs in the town take children. I just cannot do it, I am not McDonald's, I do not do chicken nuggets or fish fingers.”
Mr France has gone into partnership with Gordon McNeil, former head chef of The Randolph Hotel in Reydon.
They plan to transform the Kings Head into a pub known for its good food and beer, its fine wines and pleasant atmosphere - which means not serving vinegar with meals because it would “blight the atmosphere.”
Mr France will instead be serving chips with mayonnaise, like restaurants do on the continent, or chips made out of sweet potatoes.
He has encountered “vindictive and vicious” comments and actions from people against him banning children and vinegar from the High Street pub, but also had come across many supporters.
“A man in his 60s stormed in one day last week and I thought he was going to complain about the sign, but instead he complimented me on it,” said Mr France.
“A couple with children also came by, saw the sign and dropped the kids off at the babysitters before coming back to eat.”
Southwold mayor Sue Allen said she could see both sides of the argument regarding banning children.
“Some people in Southwold are in favour as nowadays many people cannot control their children and they run riot, but people with children say it's ridiculous. But it does give people a choice,” she added.
Geoff Baker, 71, who was enjoying at drink at the Kings Head yesterday, said: “I would prefer a pub not to have children. If there were two pubs and one was offering no children, I would go in it.”
But first-time visitors to the town, Simon and Fiona Bishop, from Haughley, who have five children, said the ban may put them off coming to Southwold in the future.
Mrs Bishop said: “It would put us off an area. My parents live in the south of France and children there are treated like adults. It seems to be only the UK that has been less than warm with its support.”
Mr Bishop added: “I think we would choose never to go to a pub even by ourselves if it did not allow children. It would be boycotted. They cannot ostracise part of a family and expect the other part to go in.”