From play area to dining table: Why restaurants need to be kid-friendly

Learn how to make your business friendlier to kids

TableCheck

TableCheck

May 16, 2023 - 4 min read

From play area to dining table: Why restaurants need to be kid-friendly

Dining out is frequently the favored option for spending quality time with our loved ones. Not only do restaurants provide an interesting array of dishes to sample, but they are an ideal place for conversation, creating a unique atmosphere that encourages bonding and connection. Research by Caterer finds that families today eat out twice as much as they did 30 years ago.

With the rapid demand growth for family-friendly restaurants, it only makes sense that restaurant owners start to take into consideration the needs of parents and their little special guests.

Why your restaurant needs to think of families

While catering to the increasing demographics is essential, it is also monetarily beneficial for restaurants to create a family-friendly atmosphere. Restaurants that identify as family-friendly can draw 25% more guests than those that do not, according to Hospitality-on.com.

Furthermore, families are more likely to spend more money dining out since they order more meals than those who visit alone or as a couple. Not only will this increase the restaurant's revenue, but the young customers will also have good memories of the experience. This will shape the family's impression of the restaurant, and boost guest satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Family means child-friendly

The capacity to cater to both parents and children is a key aspect of becoming a family-friendly business.

Many parents want to give their children a great memory on the dining table. However, to do so, restaurants must be more than just dining rooms with colorful walls. They really need to cater to the whole family and to these special guests. Having a great restaurant decor, adequate eating space and activities, and amenities down to the most essential: meals that both parents and children would love.

Here are some ideas on how restaurants can appeal to parents with children:

Kid-friendly restaurants

1. Provide kid-friendly activities

One of the most challenging parts of taking children out to eat is ensuring they don't get bored while waiting for or eating food. Providing adequate entertainment, such as coloring books, can be useful for parents to keep their children occupied.

Pizza 4Ps, a popular family-friendly food chain in Vietnam, regularly holds fun activities for children. Their pizza-making workshop allows any family to teach their children to make food and has pleasant memories together.

2. Ensure adequate space and facilities

Parents may worry that their child will make a mess and noise that could disturb other customers. Restaurants can make parents more confident to bring along their children to dining places by creating a safe and comfortable space for children.

One of the easiest to do so is by having enough high chairs for parents to put their babies on. Restaurants can also serve the children using child-friendly cutleries such as drinking glasses with lids. Providing a larger and more private space is also relatively easy but very helpful for parents who bring a stroller.

Seating arrangements can also be versatile, like those at Bistro Voliere Melbourne. That way, the restaurant can cater to both big and small families.

3. Help the family make the right food choice

With more information available, people can now make more informed and conscious decisions when choosing what to eat.

To reduce parental concerns, kid-friendly restaurants can start serving kids' meals using plant-based ingredients, less fat, and less sugar. Alternatively, restaurants can also put nutrition information on their kid's menus to help parents choose what's the best meal for their children, especially for those with allergies to certain food. It does not have to be an extensive list. Stating the calories and ingredients will suffice.

4. Promote your family-friendly menus

Parents are more inclined and confident to bring their children to restaurants that identify as kid-friendly. There are several ways to do so. One is by regularly promoting your kid-friendly service through personalized messages or email marketing.

Through TableCheck's EDM, the automated email marketing feature, restaurant owners can program an email blast to invite parents to participate in a restaurant family-themed event or celebrate their children's milestones.

RELATED: How to run successful EDM marketing campaigns

5. Train your staff to serve families with children

According to American Express, seven out of 10 US customers are likely to spend more money on businesses with good customer service. And in family-focused hospitality service, this could mean more than just friendly staff.

While hosting kids can be an additional challenge to staff, they need to be able to read different situations and decide how to address them. For example, the hosts can immediately offer a bigger and more private space when families with young children are dining in. They can also ask the parents if the child’s food should come out first if the child still needs help from their parents during meal time.

6. Serve more exciting dishes for the children

Kid's menus are created mainly to help parents choose food for their children easily. However, this does not mean restaurants should limit their offerings to classic kids' favorites like chicken nuggets, french fries, and cheeseburgers.

In fact, nowadays, especially for older ones, children actually want to have a variety of choices when going out to eat. This is because eating out is usually one of the few times the children can choose their own food. For upscale restaurants, think of creating menus that use seasonal and fresh ingredients but plate them in a way that could still appeal to children.

Restaurants can upgrade their kid's menu by adding customization elements or serving some seasonal menus. A restaurant in Brisbane, The Walnut Restaurant, for example, offers a breakfast menu, an all-day menu specifically targeting children, and a teens menu that can be eaten during various parts of the day.

7. Unique dining experiences

Some parents are looking for upscale dining experiences for the entire family, and this demand is now being addressed by some Michelin-starred restaurants according to The Times. There are now award-winning restaurants that are taking kids into consideration when designing their menus. Having menus for both small kids and older children is essential if the restaurant wants to target entire families to dine on their premises.

At the Intercontinental Wellington in New Zealand, an exclusive Children's High Tea is being offered at their Lobby Lounge which includes tea in porcelain cups plus other sweets for children under 12. When choosing where to spend a special day, these kinds of exclusive offerings might be appealing to both parents and kids.

Whether it is a Michelin restaurant, a hotel restaurant, or a bistro in a neighborhood, or at a hotel for High tea, it's those festive family meals that make dining experiences extra memorable.

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