As a parent, it can be difficult to go out for a meal when you have young children. Finding a trustworthy babysitter can be tricky and with the cost of childcare continuing to rise, leaving the little ones behind isn’t always an option. As a result, many parents bring their kids along when they go out for dinner.
If you’re a restaurant manager, you need to be prepared to host everyone from toddlers to teens, and this requires a little forward planning. Young children have different needs from teens and adults. They’ll need highchairs and kid-friendly cutlery to keep them safe and a designated space to play so they don’t get bored.
Here, we outline some tips for making your restaurant family-friendly.
Offer a kids’ menu
Children are often much pickier than adults when it comes to food and are less likely to want to eat a meal which includes speciality ingredients or a lot of spice. Offering a kids’ menu will make parents feel more confident that their child will enjoy their meal, allowing them to relax and enjoy their time in your restaurant.
Be sure to cater your kids’ menu to children of all ages and offer a variety of options including meat, fish and vegetarian meals, to ensure there’s plenty to choose from. When presenting the food, try to be creative and fun, to make the food more appealing to children.
Provide the right equipment
Parents will want to know your restaurant has everything they need to take care of their children during their visit. Young children will need plastic plates and cutlery, rather than ceramic and metal.
Highchairs and booster seats will be needed for young children in the dining space, while the toilets will need changing tables and bins for disposing of nappies. It would also be helpful to place a small stool in the toilets so that small children can easily reach the basin to wash their hands.
Sitting in a restaurant can quickly become boring for children and this may cause them to misbehave and disrupt other customers. Providing activity booklets and placemats will give the children something to keep them occupied while they wait for their food to arrive and will prevent any dinner table meltdowns.
You could customise the activities in the booklets to your restaurant to make the experience feel unique to the children. For example, you could include a wordsearch with words related to the restaurant.
Designated kids’ area
If your restaurant has an outdoor space, it would be ideal to have a designated kids’ area for children to play. You could include a sandpit, a swing set or even a bouncy castle if there’s room! If you haven’t got an outdoor space, a kids’ corner inside the restaurant will do the trick.
When setting up your kids’ space, be aware of any health and safety risks. For example, certain toys could pose a choking hazard to young children.