February 27, 2023
A Chick-fil-A in Royersford, Montgomery County is facing controversy after the fast food restaurant decided to ban children under 16 years old from dining without an adult due to "unacceptable behaviors" over the past several months.
The location on Buckwalter Road posted the announcement to its Facebook page last week, prompting more than 460 responses from customers, community members and supporters about the kids and teenagers visiting the restaurant each weekend, often after being dropped off at UrbanAir Adventure Park, which is located in the same shopping center.
In the post, Chick-fil-A managers detailed loud, often explicit conversations among kids and young teenagers, which they say are "unacceptable" for the family restaurant. According to the Facebook post, kids are leaving trash on tables, chairs and the floor after their meals, vandalizing tables and restrooms and stealing decorations.
Managers at the Royersford location also describe unaccompanied minors laughing at employees, cursing at them and being rude when ordering or being asked to leave the restaurant. The kids then empty into the parking lot, Chick-fil-A staff says, walking through the drive thru lanes. As a result, the restaurant said that it was banning unaccompanied minors from dining at the restaurant without an adult. Kids can still order food, but it must be taken to go.
"Parents, we are not blaming you," the post said. "Children and teens are learning to navigate the world free from supervision and often push the boundaries. We simply can't let them push those boundaries anymore at our restaurant. We encourage you to talk to your children and ask about behaviors they have seen and perhaps participated in."
The nearly 500 comments on the post are a mix of cheers from supporters and regular customers as well as outcry lambasting the fast food restaurant for its decision. Other restaurants, like Red Rooster Burgers & Brew in Garden Valley, California, remarked that inappropriate behavior from teenagers prompted similar decisions.
"Unfortunately, this has become more commonplace in today's society," wrote John Rossi, a resident of King of Prussia. "I see poor behavior from both adults and young people everywhere I go. I thank you for your stand on this issue (and) I am sure that you will get pushback from some but the majority of your customers will embrace your decision."
Other commenters took particular issue with management's decision not to blame parents for their children's public behavior.
Massachusetts resident Ann Margaret chimed in, "It absolutely is a parenting problem. I used to supervise the neighborhood boys every Friday night at the mall's arcade. Yes, I sat there while they played their games. I knew the staff, I knew the mall cops, they knew I was there and they appreciated it. Letting your cherubs run wild in society isn't parenting, it's neglect."
Jessica Coniglia, another commenter, pointed to Chick-fil-A's history as a company guided by its founder's Christianity, asking whether or not the policy was "what Christ would have wanted." She continued, "Where in the Bible does it say 'Thou shall turn away youth who clearly need guidance?'"
Still, the Royersford Chick-fil-A is far from the only restaurant that has moved to ban minors from its dining room in recent years. Last December, Human Robot banned children from its Kensington tasting room after 2 p.m. and in January, Nettie's House of Spaghetti, a popular Italian restaurant in Tinton Falls, Monmouth County, announced that it would ban children under 10 years old from dining there.
In 2015, a McDonald's in Altoona, Blair County came under fire for its decision to ban kids and teens from entering the restaurant without an adult chaperone, Eater reported.
Chick-fil-A did not immediately respond to PhillyVoice's request for comment on the ban. Its location in Royersford — the only one banning unaccompanied minors — is one of the company's 2,600 franchise locations in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada.