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COLUMN: Cheese dip, falling pinatas and the perfect kid party venue

Severo Avila

Severo Avila is Features Editor at the Rome News-Tribune.

Last week I attended a 5-year-old’s birthday party. Or as I usually call those, birth control.

Now, I love kids. It’s just a little tough for me to love them when there are 20 of them running around screamin’ and fightin’ and pitching a fit and tattling on each other.

Some of the kids parties I’ve been to in the past have been at the usual places that kids enjoy such as Chuck E. Cheese, Kangaroo Jakes, the gymnastics center, the bowling alley and of course people sometimes host kids parties at their homes.

But this recent party was in a somewhat unusual venue. It was at a local Mexican restaurant. And it was an honest-to-goodness party, not just a meal. There were games, activities, decorations, a cake, cupcakes, a piñata — the works.

In large part, the venue choice was because the birthday girl in question loves cheese dip more than oxygen and she happens to think the best cheese dip in town is at this particular restaurant.

Being friends with the parents and sometimes playmate to the birthday girl, I was invited.

I should include here that because I have the emotional maturity of a 7-year-old, kids gravitate toward me. I think they can sense this immaturity in me and know I’m usually up for whatever game or activity they choose, whether it’s playing with My Little Ponies or coloring or just running around playing tag.

So I get to the restaurant and they’ve rented out a side room of the restaurant which happens to contain the bar. I’d guess there were about 10 booths along the sides and 5 long tables down the middle.

I know what you’re probably thinking — a child’s birthday party at a bar? Well let me tell you, it turned out to be a pretty dang good place to have the party.

Here’s why. Many of the kid parties I’ve been to in the past have obviously been focused on the kids having a good time, as it should be. But there might be more parents than kids at these parties and don’t you want everyone to have a good time?

Here’s why this particular setup was so good. No one was chasing after kids or worrying about where they might be. The kids all sat at the center tables and the adults all sat in the booths around them.

So parents could keep an eye on their kids (who were eating, coloring and playing) while they enjoyed their own meals.

The kids had tacos and burritos and cheese dip while the parents sat around, socializing and ordered whatever they wanted. And of course a few of them appreciated being able to order an adult beverage as well.

So for the adults I’m sure it felt like an evening out with friends at a restaurant while a child’s birthday party happened to be taking place in the middle of the room. The setup was perfect.

And don’t think the kids had less fun because they were at a restaurant as opposed to another venue. They got their food first and were happily eating while they worked on crafts at the table. Then they got to sing happy birthday and ran around.

One little boy seemed to be more comfortable than the rest. He wanted to dig into his cupcake with such enthusiasm that his daddy decided the little boy’s shirt should just come off to save it from being destroyed.

Y’all, that little shirtless boy sitting in the middle of a Mexican restaurant devouring a cupcake pretty much summed up how comfortable everyone was at the party.

And as usual, there are family members or friends who attend these things who may not want to hang out all day or all night. This setup allowed them to show up, sit, have a delicious meal and leave when they were ready.

The only hiccup came when the birthday girl’s granddaddy had the not-so-brilliant idea to hang the piñata from the ceiling fan.

Keep in mind, this particular piñata isn’t the type you beat with a stick till the candy falls out. It’s the type you take turns yanking at until it busts open and the candy rains down on all the kids.

Well, bounce to grandaddy Jim, the string from a ceiling fan ain’t exactly the must sturdy thing you should hang such an object from. The unbroken piñata fell into the crowd of children twice before a more reasonable adult decided to just but it open and throw candy to the kids. They loved that idea.

After the singing of happy birthday and the cutting of the Trolls-themed cake, the kids played while the grown-ups socialized. Everyone was contained so there was no searching for missing children.

And the restaurant’s staff was busy coming around at regular intervals in case the kids or adults needed anything.

It truly was an ingenious place to host a kid’s party since it was enjoyable for EVERYONE and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for that type of atmosphere. Just don’t invite granddaddy Jim who’s a few beers short of a six-pack, if you catch my drift.

Severo Avila is features editor for the Rome News-Tribune.