By Lisa Manterfield
A couple of years ago, a favorite local restaurant closed its doors, not because business was bad, but because the owner decided to reimagine the concept to make it more family friendly. My sweet little French bistro is no more.
What make this change particularly painful (and ironic) is that this gem, with its Parisian-style sidewalk patio, is where I sat when I wrote the first post for Life Without Baby.
One Friday afternoon, more than seven years ago now, I took my laptop, snagged a table in the sun, ordered myself a glass of bubbly and a half-dozen oysters and began documenting my life without the children I’d dreamed of. Since then, Kathleen and I have celebrated completing drafts of our books there (see photo) and, one evening, I met with one of my earliest readers of the blog to share a glass of wine and stories of our journeys. So, this place holds a special place in my heart.
Aside from the sentimental loss, the restaurant was also one of the few quiet adult places to eat in that area. Along with one or two other holdouts, it’s surrounded by family pizza joints and family burger bars. And now it’s going to be another family-focused restaurant—an “eatery” instead of a “bistro.”
The owner told the local paper that the new place “will cater to a larger segment of the population” and that he plans to “make it more of a place where everyone feels they belong.”
I found it ironic that this longtime patron, who once felt so at home there that she chose it as the place to write about not have children, would no longer feel she belonged. In a society where being childless often make us feel like outcasts, it hurt to be shut out of yet another place.
But perhaps it’s not time for us to despair yet. The follow-up to this story is that the family-friendly restaurant never did open its doors. The space sat empty for two or three years, so perhaps the owner’s assumptions about “everyone” was wrong after all. A new place is coming soon, a very family-unfriendly craft beer bar. I may have to mosey on over and enjoy a nice quiet brew. Perhaps I’ll take my laptop and write about it. Wouldn’t that be a nice full-circle ending?