Can Lakewood not have nice things? After more than a year of struggle, Neapolitan pizzeria Cane Rosso White Rock has filled in the copper-lined fountain on its patio. Owner Jay Jerrier drained out the water this week and filled it in with dirt and plants.
The fountain has been a source of frustration for the restaurant since it opened in May 2013. Designed as a beautiful fire-and-water feature, it featured a fountain and a gravel-lined firepit as the centerpiece of a beautiful spacious patio. 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.
Jerrier posted notes asking the obvious of parents: to keep their kids from throwing rocks or gravel in the fountain. But the notes had no effect.
"The fountain could only digest so many swim diapers," Jerrier says.
The fountain cost Jerrier a fortune and entailed many hours of installation by the artist. Jerrier thought it would be a nice touch for his second branch, and an expansion of the original branch in Deep Ellum, which features a patio, but no fountain, and a lot fewer parents with kids.
The problems at White Rock began pretty much as soon as the place opened. In May, a note appeared on the Facebook page that read, "Uhhh ... bathing your kids in the patio fountain is not a good idea, unless your kids love bleach and insecticide. Let's be safe out there."
Most responses were sympathetic, from customers who were horrified by negligent parents who saw no problem with their kids treating the fountain like a bathtub. One commenter said she was forced to bite her tongue as she watched kids shovel rocks into the water and throw water and large rocks into the fire. Another called it "a sad testament to today's parenting."
But the defensive comments from indignant parents gave a clue as to the difficulty of the restaurant's battle, with some taking offense at the criticism of their parenting skills and others threatening to boycott the restaurant.
Jerrier is reluctant to say too much for fear of alienating customers. But one commenter summed it up nicely:
"I wanted to fill the fountain with broken glass and snakes, but you went with sensible plantings. Just glad the unattended rug rats won't be running amok in there any longer. I'm glad this thread is being read by those oblivious parents. We can't blame the kids for being disrespectful and annoying, but we can blame those parents for raising children that behave in such a manner."