While walking in Thetford Forest I had an interesting experience in the Eagle in Great Hockham.
This is a typical Norfolk village local, exceptionally well run and welcoming and with a better Adnams (NBSS 3.5) than I’d had in their Cambridge flagship the night before. Fresh flowers, proper seating, small interesting food menu, the works.
A very pleasant couple came in from their walk and asked if their small dog could come in, noting canine company in the pub. They were warmly welcomed.
I then sat through a good five minutes of dog noise that would have kept you awake at Old Trafford this season. I’ve no idea what dogs they were, but the other one was very large. It didn’t trouble the friendly locals, and I was drinking up, but that sort of racket would have attracted on-line outrage if it had come from a child.
It’s a fine line between being welcoming to all and allowing behaviour that might put off potential customers. Which reminded me that my recent experiences in Wetherspoons have seen that line crossed quite a bit recently.
I like children (never “kids”), and my own used Wetherspoons regularly before they discovered my curries were better than those on Club Night (though possibly not cheaper.)
Wetherspoons have wrestled with the issue of children over the years, but their business model relies quite a bit on family dining, and you’ll see as many Mums and toddlers as old soaks in Spoons in the morning. Which is good – it gets people out the house and keeps pubs open.
The main complaint about children is noise, which for me is rarely an issue. What I’ve seen of late, notably in Exeter and Cambridge, is parents allowing children to run around without control, sit on the bar counter, and play the fruit machines, with all the safety and legal implications of that. There seems to be much less enforcement of the (sensible) rules than before.
It’s often the Spoons in more affluent owns, and the middle-class gastropubs of places like Islington and Twickenham where I see this disregard by parents for the comfort of others.
Pub Curmudgeon had some good thoughts on the topic here.
NB The canine menu from Hexham comes from a pub that operates a separate room for dog-owners, something we used to have more of before pubs were routinely knocked through.