A lot in your restaurant depends on your staff. Giving them a little bit of training on how to deal with family groups can make them more confident when serving them. It can also help make the customers happy, too. Win, win. Servers should be aware of kid-friendly meal options and should always ask parents before offering anything to the children. Hosts should be aware of the best seating options for families, especially if they have very small children. Also suggest to staff that they should not fill a child's glass all the way. It is easier to refill a glass than clean up a spill.
When a family with small children comes in, they should be given a table with more space than they have people. For example a family of four should be given a six-top. This will give elbow room to the kids as well as giving parents space for things like strollers and diaper bags. It can also make it easier to fit a high chair at the table if necessary.
If you are planning on making your restaurant more welcoming of families, then you should have supplies on hand for entertaining the children. Place mats that can be colored and little boxes of crayons can be a great way to keep the kids busy while waiting on their meal. Some restaurants line the tables with butcher paper and leave small boxes of crayons on the tables so that kids can go to town. You should also stock kid friendly cups. Having a cup with a lid can prevent staff and parents from having to deal with too many spills.
If your restaurant offers entertainment, consider having family-friendly entertainers during non-peak hours. Also, make sure to advertise. This can increase revenue during an otherwise slow period. It can also encourage patronage at a time when staff will not have to work around non-child customers. Staff will further appreciate not having to operate around entertainment during a dinner rush.
Help parents out by having an online menu. The menu should include not only portion sizes, descriptions and price, but ingredient and allergy information. This can save staff and parents a lot of time when ordering. Parents can order as soon as they come in rather than having to take several minutes to look at the menu and question staff. The sooner parents can order, the sooner food can be served. The quicker meals appear, the less time kids have to get bored and anxious.
Have a kids' menu. You may not have to go too far out of your way to create a menu that caters to children. Chances are good that you already have most of the makings for a kids menu. Finger foods are always popular. Things like french fries and grilled cheese sandwiches will always be appreciated. Make sure to include some healthy options too, such as fresh fruit cut into bite-sized chunks and vegetables with dip. Do not be afraid to offer kid-sized portions of more sophisticated dishes either. Depending on the child's age, they may enjoy a pasta dish with vegetables in it.
Special Kids' Day
Choose one of your slower days of the week, like a Tuesday, to offer a special kids' day. On this day, kids eat free with the purchase of an adult entree. This can entice parents to take kids out. And because child portions are smaller and simpler anyway, you are not likely to lose money on the deal.
Aside from making sure that families have tables with plenty of room, it is a good idea to keep special seating for kids. Having baby a baby chair for your restaurant such as high chairs can be helpful for parents with babies and young toddlers. Booster seats are a great idea for kids who are too big for a high chair but too small yet to see over the table. Also, check out restaurant supply catalogs for more unique options like kids cafe chairs. You may be surprised at what you find. Staff should know to offer these so that customers know that high chairs and boosters are available.
Obviously, you want to offer all customers quick service. With young children it is especially important. One restaurant would bring out children's appetizers with the drinks. Adults received their appetizers while the children were getting their entrees. And then kids had dessert while parents enjoyed their entrees. Other options may include having ready-to-go appetizers for the whole family such as a bread basket. This is one more thing to keep the kids busy while waiting on the meal.
Make sure all restrooms, men's and women's, are equipped with changing stations. Making sure that parents are able to care for their children has two purposes. The first is to make them feel welcome. They may be less likely to come if they know that they will have difficulty taking care of their young children. The second purpose is to prevent them from changing their child's diaper in the dining room when there is nowhere else.
If you are trying to make your restaurant accommodating to as broad a customer base as possible, making sure that your establishment is kid-friendly, will help. Often, you do not have to go too far out of your wheel-house to make sure families with small children feel welcome. And having a few restaurant ideas for kids can help improve your bottom line.