The sadly troubled patio at Cane Rosso in Lakewood looks set to receive another drubbing from the unsupervised offspring of East Dallas' finest.
A video from a recent night shows the little darlings running around the patio like it's a playground. One lass who looks old enough to know better climbs atop the planter and walks across it with zero regard for what she's trampling. Parents stand next to them, busy in conversation, oblivious to the havoc nearby.
"We used to have a fountain on our patio but the kids destroyed it," says manager Megan Dennison. "So we filled it in and made it a planter ... and the kids are destroying it."
Owner Jay Jerrier said that the night in question "was kind of an exception" because he was holding a rescue event for Cane Rosso Rescue, the rescue group he founded to help find homes for Vizslas, German Shorthairs and English Pointers, which meant puppies on the patio. "The kids were just out of their mind over it," he says.
But the patio has been a problem zone for the restaurant since it opened in May 2013. Jerrier spent a bundle on a beautiful fire-and-water feature with a fountain and a gravel-lined fire pit. But the fountain quickly became a health hazard as unsupervised children threw in rocks and dirt, or else climbed into the water, some wearing diapers.
Manager Joe Gibbons says that the fountain practically became his full-time job. "We spent well over $10,000 in repairs," he says. "Kids were taking this aesthetically pleasing gravel and shoving it into the fountain by the handful. All the pipes got filled with gravel and the pump stopped working. The last straw, it was $3,500 to repair it. I had lived the nightmare for the whole time so I wasn't sad to see it go."
In August 2014, Jerrier threw in the towel and filled in the fountain area, transforming it into a planter. Bye-bye to the beautiful glazed penny motif.
"We had to get rid of all that," Gibbons says. "We drilled a dozen huge holes so that the plantings can drain. We had to get rid of all the river rocks; those were being used as missiles."
The area was filled with beautiful succulents — and, again, the unruly spawn returned.
"Every year, Lakewood does two days of this daddy-daughter dance," Gibbons says. "The dads come in, and there are 30 or 40 of them all at once. So the dads are sitting inside, and there's 30 girls outside, like a cyclone of terror, running around nonstop."
The problem for the staff gets down to liability, Gibbons says.
"It's not our job to serve as parents," he says. "I understand they want to drink and have a good time. But what happens if the kids get hurt, or if they run out in the parking lot?"
Meanwhile, they've hired a new landscaper to redo the planter. "I think we're going to have to do that every year now," Gibbons says.