No kids allowed, and that’s okay


Sushi restaurant is just for kids. (Andrea Bruce/The Washington Post)
October 15, 2013

Last spring, I — and just about every other media outlet — did a piece about a sushi restaurant in Del Ray, the land of strollers, play dates and family-friendly everything, which would only allow patrons 18 and older when it opened.

Well, Sushi Bar is up and running, and it seems to be doing just fine thankyouverymuch. No kids? No problem.

Even though Tom Sietsema went to the spot and called it “for the most part pleasing” (which, frankly, is more praise than he gives some restaurants), Mike Anderson and Bill Blackburn’s sushi joint is still perhaps more well-known for its adults-only policy than it is for its rolls.

Just last week, Food & Wine magazine wrote about restaurants that don’t allow kids. Sushi Bar made the list and gained attention, again.

“The first few weeks were crazy because it was an international news story,” Blackburn said. “We had no idea it would be a controversial decision.”

Anderson and Blackburn are no kid-haters. In fact, Anderson and Blackburn own such family-friendly joints as Holy Cow and Pork Barrel in Del Ray. Anderson also owns Mango Mike’s in Alexandria and Bethany Beach, all family-centric.

“We ran it by some parents that had kids and I would say eight out of 10 thought it was a great idea,” Anderson told me in April. He was working toward a more upscale, quiet atmosphere, he explained, particularly because his other restaurants are “pandemonium” around 5 p.m.

Blackburn said he can count on one hand the number of times people stopped by with kids since it opened. “We just tell them our policy and say we have two family-friendly restaurants on either side.” He said families can mostly tell the moment they look at the small, loungey space that it’s not for children.

That said, he and Anderson are planning a “Take Back the Sushi Bar” day where a chef will show kids how to make sushi rolls and how to use chopsticks. And — best part — it’s a drop off event. The date is yet to be chosen, and it will be during the daytime when the restaurant is typically closed.

“Del Ray is such a family-friendly place, that’s why it works,” Blackburn said. “This gives mom and dad a chance to escape.”

Frankly, if I owned a restaurant and folks started showing up with kids in tow like this, you can bet I’d have a no-kids establishment as well.

Of course, I’d probably prefer to be a no-obnoxious-parents spot, but I’m not sure how I’d screen for that.

Amy Joyce is the editor and a writer for On Parenting.
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