I’ve been taking my niece around to see our favorite sights in the DC area. One of them was a boat ride by National Ferry. We had a great time, and a special shout out to Evan on the staff for giving us extra information about all the sights we saw.
Afterwards, we headed over to a restaurant that I’d consider a staple in my DC life, Cantina Marina. I’ve been going there since I moved to the DC area in 2008. I especially love running over there after a Washington Nationals Game.
Now as a side note, my niece’s mother recently passed away.
When we walked into the restaurant, we were stopped. An employee let us know that you had to be 21 or older to get in unless you had a parent with you.
I pulled out my identification which showed I’m in my mid-thirties and said my niece is only 20 but is with me.
The man said I could only bring her in if she was my daughter.
I lowered my voice and told the man that my niece’s mother passed away a few months ago and that I was taking care of her. My niece offered to show the death certificate and the obituary that corroborated our story. I was asked if I was her legal guardian, but I told him that since she was over 18, they aren’t granted “legal” guardianship, but I was taking care of her.
The man said he didn’t need to see the documentation, but went to grab his manager. We waited for a while as they discussed what to do, and in the meantime, they seated two parents and their three children. They didn’t make sure the children belonged to the parents.
Finally, the manager decided he could seat us, but he told us, “If either of you go near the bar or touch alcohol–you’re OUT!”
He said it in a completely adversarial tone. This was surprising to me since the entire time I was completely honest. I didn’t try to pretend my niece was 21. I was honest about our relationship. But they were incredibly suspicious.
We were seated next to that family that we saw before. Both parents were drinking cocktails.
During our time there, the manager kept coming over to watch what we were doing. It felt really judgemental . I’m saying this as someone who rarely complains about restaurant visits. He clearly looked like he was watching what we were doing, just in case we bolted to the bar and grabbed someone’s beverage off of it.
Now, our server, Tim, was fantastic and friendly the entire time, so I want to stress how happy I am with that part of the service.
But we felt unwelcome and unwanted the entire time there. We felt like we were let in there as a favor and should be grateful. We felt like we did something to deserve being watched while there.
Most of all, we felt like they were saying we weren’t a real family. And that’s what hurt the most.