Between picky eaters, crying babies, and frazzled parents trying to enjoy their meal, going out to eat can be an ordeal for some families.
While you cannot do much about a child’s behavior in your restaurant, you can make the dining experience easier and more fun for all parties.
Kid-friendly restaurants are an important part of the public sphere, allowing families to enjoy an afternoon out. Here are six tips to make your restaurant kid-friendly.
Have The Right Supplies
Be sure to have kid-appropriate supplies readily available like highchairs, booster seats, and child-friendly dining sets. Having these on hand will make it easier for children to enjoy their meal and reduce the stress of parents.
Also include activities like coloring pages, triangle peg solitaire, or other fun activities for kids. Providing these will go a long way in keeping children occupied and happy while they wait for their meal.
Provide An Appropriate Children’s Menu
Like an adult menu, a children’s menu should be easy to navigate, colorful with plenty of pictures, and include offerings that are appealing to children. In addition to the usual fare like chicken strips and fries, offer healthy alternatives like grilled chicken strips and bright vegetables.
Be flexible in offering menu substitutions and know the ingredients used so parents can make informed choices.
Market your restaurant as family friendly by showing off your menu and advertising specials like free kids meals on social media.
Train Your Servers Correctly
Servers and other staff should be correctly trained in how to serve and interact with tables with children.
Train them to understand that children are guests too and should be treated with the same respect as adult customers. That means no matter how poorly a child may be behaving, a server should not show annoyance or disrespect!
Servers should follow these tips:
- When speaking to children, speak respectfully
- Ask them what they would like to order and be sure to make eye contact when listening to them
- Ask parents if their child has any special needs, like highchairs or food allergies
- Know what ingredients are used in kid’s meals and what healthy substitutions are available
If regular families have a favorite server, you know your servers are doing something right!
Serve Food On Time
Anyone who interacts with children on a regular basis knows that their patience isn’t always a strength. When it comes to getting their meal, some kids may get impatient — especially if they are hungry.
Optimize your kitchen and staff to make it more efficient in completing orders and getting them out to families on time.
If needed, ask parents if they would like you to serve their children’s meal before the rest of the party.
Speaking of impatient children, sometimes a family needs to leave quickly after they have eaten (or even in the middle of the meal) — whether it is to get a child home for bedtime, meet an appointment, or take care of an unexpected meltdown.
Offering pay-at-the-table options can be an excellent solution to allow families with children to quickly pay for their meal if they need to leave unexpectedly or in a hurry.
As with all customers, be sure your wait staff is not giving the impression that they are rushing families with children.
Remember To Cater To Parents
When making your restaurant kid friendly, remember to cater to the parents to make their time dining with you easier.
Provide them with amenities like a diaper changing table in both the men’s and women’s restrooms, or a family restroom.
When they come into your restaurant, offer them a larger table to accommodate the room needed to store necessary child supplies like diaper bags and strollers. They will appreciate the courtesy.
When you cater to families in your restaurant, you are establishing yourself as a place where families can enjoy their time out with their children.