An Essex café-owner has come in for major criticism this week, for banning all children under the age of five from her business.


Hilary Penning, who runs The Organic Kitchen in Buckhurst Hill, told the Evening Standard that she enforced the rule in a bid to stop ‘buggies the size of Essex’ and children ‘running riot’ from disturbing her clientele.


“There’s been far too many instances where mums come in with newborn babies and allow the children to cry and cry,” she explained.



Ms Penning added: “I cannot allow people to come in expecting to have a great eating experience but have to leave because their lunch or breakfast has been ruined by inconsiderate parents allowing their children run riot, which has happened quite a bit.”


The move has irked parents in the community however, and many have taken to the café’s Facebook page to complain.


“Such a shame to hear that under-5s are not allowed in this café. Had arranged to meet friends there this week. Will find somewhere more child-friendly,” one mum wrote.




Meanwhile, another branded the move ‘discriminatory’: “Horrified that…The Organic Kitchen…has decided to discriminate: leaving buggies outside would seem fair, an outright ban on under-fives is awful.”


Support for Hilary is in plentiful supply, however, with others praising her for the brave move.




One local congratulated Hilary on her stance, writing: “Well done you, for barring children under five from your restaurant. I’ve had so many meals spoiled by out-of-control children. Bad parenting is rife and needs to be stopped.”


Where do you stand in the debate?