Sydney cafe closes children's playroom after 'disgusting' behaviour

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John and Claudette Osterberg at their cafe, Black Mocha, at Turramurra.
John and Claudette Osterberg at their cafe, Black Mocha, at Turramurra. Photo: Peter Rae

Dirty nappies left on tables, children washing their hands in other patrons' water glasses, and parents using cushions as plates are only a handful of the reasons a Sydney cafe has closed its children's playroom, the owners say.

Turramurra's Black Mocha Cafe announced the closure of its playroom via a Facebook post on Tuesday evening. "Our decision has been based on a number of factors," it said. "Too many parents not respecting the dining experience of other patrons and the facilities provided for children."

John Osterberg, who opened Black Mocha in 2013 with his wife Claudette, says most children and parents have been well behaved, but "a few bad eggs with a sense of entitlement have decided the cafe is their place to treat as they like".

A father of two, Osterberg says that when he approached parents about their children's unruly behaviours, he was abused and told "you are obviously not a parent, you don't know what you're talking about".

Osterberg originally threatened to close the playroom via Facebook in February, citing reasons such as children ripping books, drawing on walls, emptying sugar packets onto the floor, knocking over hot drinks, taking food from other patrons' plates, using furniture as trampolines, and screaming "just for fun".

Parents were also bringing takeaway food into the playroom and using cushions as makeshift plates.

Osterberg says this original Facebook post did curb the "disgusting" playroom behaviour, but the change was only temporary.

"Things came to a head when our regular good customers started saying to us 'we can't come back here any more, we can't hear ourselves think'. When you get that reputation with your regulars it kills your business and unfortunately we had to decide between the business and the playroom."

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Online reaction to Black Mocha's Facebook announcement was largely positive.

I hope this is the beginning of a new trend - Reclaim Our Cafes!

Posted by Marko Twee on  Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Good on you for stopping feral parents allowing their feral kids to run riot at your cafe. These parents refuse to discipline their kids. Appalling.

Posted by Balance Chick on  Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I don't often get Northside but when I do I am going to frequent this cafe.

Posted by Julie Gordon on  Wednesday, October 21, 2015

He says the support from the community has also been overwhelmingly positive about the decision to close the playroom.

"So many people are coming up to us and saying 'this is amazing. We can now come back!' Almost all them have a story about a similar instance they have experienced, too, when they were in bank, or supermarket or another cafe where children have misbehaved and the parents have done nothing."

Bitton Cafe in Erskineville also has a children's playroom. A spokesperson for Bitton says they have not had problems with children's behaviour to the extent it has affected the business. "We advertise ourselves as family friendly and invite all the parents and little kids to come down and enjoy the playroom," she says. "It's what we're all about."

Will Murray is a waiter at Newtown's Martini Cafe, another venue with a children's playroom.

"Our playroom is upstairs, so it's good in the sense it doesn't disturb other customers." he says. "We have our usual problems you get in cafes with children, but you kind of expect it. I think that's our job, you know. If there's kids in the cafe you're going to have a bit of extra cleaning but that's what we get paid for and that's what we get tips for."