When dining at the Blue Windows Bistro in Fort Myers, Fla., bring your appetite, but leave your children at home.
Christian Vivet, the chef and owner, said the decision to ask patrons to leave children home was simple.
"Our restaurant is very small. We can only seat 35 people. We're a white-tablecloth restaurant," he said. "The average ticket is $50 to $55; that's a fairly expensive night out for people."
As the nation ages, more businesses like Blue Windows are catering exclusively to adults. If it sounds like a recipe for disaster, it's not. In fact, experts say it actually might be a good bet for some businesses.
Empty nesters wield a huge swath of discretionary spending dollars and about 45 percent of U.S. households do not have children younger than 18, according to U.S. census figures.
The message on Blue House Bistro's website reads, "While we love young children and have raised a hand-full of them, our little Bistro features Adult Dining. We do not have a children's menu, no high chairs, nor booster seats, crayons, etc. For your dining pleasure and the pleasure of those around you, we suggest that you hire a trusted baby sitter for your special night out."
Still, Vivet said he doesn't turn customers with children away and mentions regulars who bring their preteen children to eat at the restaurant. He said the system has worked well because they are honest with their customers before they come to the restaurant.
"If you're up front, nobody's disappointed," Vivet said.
Gary Jackson, a professor of economics and director of the Florida Gulf Coast University Lutgert College of Business, said marketing exclusively to adults can be beneficial to some businesses.
"Tastes and preferences vary over age groups," he said. "Companies are always looking to create value for their constituents, so it makes sense. You are trying to cater to the preferences of the group."
It's actually not a new concept. In 2011, a Monroeville, Pa., restaurant banned children under 6. Whole Foods stores in Missouri implemented child-free shopping hours and offer parents child care services so they may shop alone.
There are even websites dedicated to taking a child-free vacation. TripAdvisor U.K., in a survey of 2,000 British residents, found that one-third would be willing to pay extra to be on a flight without children.
Jackson cited businesses like cruise ships, which might have a deck that is for adults only, as another example of businesses trying to include everyone while offering their paying customers -- the adults -- what they want.
"This way, you are not being seen as being against having families," he said. "It's a way for companies not to exclude anyone, but cater to the needs and preferences of the overall group."
Scripps Howard News Service
(Contact Katherine Albers of the Naples Daily News in Florida at firstname.lastname@example.org.)