Categorized | Featured, Menu Development, Operations

Keeping Kids Happy Brings Parents Back

Posted on 11 March 2010 by Agile Chef

Ask anyone who runs a family-friendly restaurant and (s)he’ll tell you: Keeping the littlest customers happy can be one of the biggest challenges – and bring the biggest rewards . Your best bet is providing enough kid-friendly entertainment to keep children happy and occupied the entire dining experience. Try a few of the time-tested tips below at your own restaurant to keep guests of all ages coming back for more:

Create a kids-only play area. Kids aren’t the only ones who get fussy while waiting for tables, but they can certainly be the noisiest. Create a dedicated play area for your younger customers to enjoy before they are seated. Don’t worry about building a McDonalds-style playpen; even a few slides or jungle gyms and a sand pit give kids a great outlet for all that energy and keep them entertained until it’s time to eat.

Table games and coloring books still work. Nothing kills the atmosphere in your restaurant like a screaming toddler drowning out your ambient background music. Keep children from getting bored by providing plenty for them to do while they wait for their food. Whether you hand out crayons and coloring books or distribute kids’ menus printed with simple puzzles and word searches, make sure your youngest patrons stay entertained. They’ll stay busy and happy, making the experience better for everyone in the dining room!

Attract more families by holding special kids’ nights. Many restaurants have found success through periodic kids’ nights. Whether you bring in outside entertainment (think children’s music, face-painting or a balloon animal station) or offer free children’s meals with the purchase of an adult entree, kids’ nights are a great way to attract new customers and keep regulars coming back.

Give kids their very own menu options. Above all else, make sure you provide an array of kid-friendly menu selections. A recent story about children’s menus revealed almost 80% of parents based their limited-service restaurant choices on the presence of kids’ menu items. Children are notoriously fickle eaters, but popular items like macaroni, pizza, burgers and chicken nuggets have proven successful among even the pickiest diners.

Many restaurants are even converting regular menu items into smaller portions to satisfy children’s appetites. Considering the trendiness of bite-sized sandwiches and sliders, this couldn’t be easier.

Give kids and parents plenty of healthy choices. We’re all aware that childhood obesity rates are climbing, so keeping kids healthy is essential. To make your menu options as attractive to parents as they are to kids, offer healthy alternatives to standard dishes and sides, like fruit in place of fries or yogurt instead of ice cream. Even quick service chains have gotten in on the act; McDonald’s will substitute their Apple Dippers for French fries and milk for soda, and Burger King made waves with their clever Apple Fries packaging. Keep alternative menu options as fun as they are healthy, and you’ll make a fan out of kids and parents alike.

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