Maybe it’s the funky economy with so many folks looking for the big payday…but another casualty of our over litigious society is the peanut tradition at Barnacle Bill’s in Rumson.

Barnacle Bill’s is one of those places that’s all about atmosphere. They have an antique brass peanut roaster that keeps the bar's patrons satisfied downing roasted peanuts while they wait on their dinners.

Patrons usually crack open the shells and allow them to adorn the floor, creating a tapestry you’d expect to find in a place with “atmosphere”.

Alas, not anymore, because according to this:

Owner Todd Sherman says Barnacle Bill's will no longer serve peanuts, citing concerns over customers' peanut allergies and slip and fall claims filed by diners who say they lost their footing in the layer of shells underfoot.

"The peanuts are done,'' Sherman said. "It's a bold move for us, man, it's a brave move on our part and we're going to see how it goes."
Peanut-loving customers are, well, shellshocked.

A status update announcing the change on the bar's Facebook page has sparked more than 450 comments as of this writing, the vast majority critical of the bar and decrying an increasingly litigious society.

Sherman said he anticipated some complaints, but said he was "shocked" by the number of complaints.

Management of the 40-year-old dockside eatery agonized over the decision to end a tradition that had set the place apart from a long line of pubs bragging a great burger and a pint.

But Sherman, the owner, said the restaurant has been sued three times in the last several years over customers who fell. The restaurant reached undisclosed settlements with the plaintiff in each case. He also receives frequent calls from people who claim they fell on the peanut shells the night before, prompting worries over more lawsuits.

Sprinkled among the outraged responses, Sherman said, were thankful words from customers who say they can now return with their peanut-allergic kids.

And as for families whose kids are disappointed to lose their only spot where tossing stuff on the floor and not get in trouble, he said they offer free bread to feed the ducks that patrol the grounds and new appetizers.


Fairy tale ending no doubt, however it does point to the tyranny of the few have over the rest of us. First of all, the “patrons who slip and fall on the shells.” Really?

And then there are the peanut Nazis. Does the establishment need to have a sign outside stating you enter at your own risk if you have either delicate feet or a peanut allergy?

All in all, another tradition yields to the vocal minority.