Bawling babies, tantrum-throwing toddlers, and picky preschoolers. These are not exactly your picture of perfect restaurant guests. Despite the many hassles of running a family-friendly restaurant, however, more restaurant operators continue to embrace this style, opening their doors to both adults and children.
In fact, banning kids in a restaurant can draw criticism. When Hampton Station, a craft beer bar and pizzeria put up a “No Children” sign last year, customers took to social media to express their dissatisfaction. However, some restaurants have experienced a business boom after implementing a kids’ ban.
Caruso’s, an Italian restaurant in Mooresville, N.C., saw an increase in the number of diners when they banned children under the age of five, as reported by The Washington Post. Some of the reasons cited for the ban were unruly children and unsupportive parents, all of which are legitimate concerns in family-friendly settings.
But research by the National Restaurant Association revealed that nearly six out of 10 consumers say they consider a restaurant’s family or child friendliness when choosing where to dine. Clearly, the decision to entertain children or not requires careful consideration.
For restaurant operators looking to build a family-friendly brand, however, certain strategies could help to ensure success. These include:
Developing a healthy kid’s menu - With the rising concerns about childhood obesity, a healthy kid's menu is a feature parents look for when choosing places to dine with their children. Parents are more concerned than ever about feeding junk food to their family. Therefore, the kids’ menu should not only be mouth-watering, it should contain a variety of healthy options.
Investing in equipment and devices for kids - Kids can be restless while waiting for a meal. Providing games or devices they can play with while waiting for their orders keeps them engaged and can help to prevent meltdowns.
Training staff to serve young guests - Dealing with kids does not come easily to everyone. Making sure your staff understands the right ways to respond to parents and their young ones ensures pleasant experiences and can boost customer loyalty.
Having dedicated family nights - To avoid clashes between family diners and other guests, you can have dedicated family nights and also encourage families dining outside those hours to check in earlier.
Food safety is paramount
While allowing children in your restaurants could mean more business, it could double the food safety risk. Young children, especially those under the age of five, are more susceptible to foodborne illnesses. The FDA recommends that raw or undercooked protein foods or vegetables should not be served to susceptible groups. Extra care should be taken to ensure that meals served are not only healthy and nutritious, but also safe. It is also good practice to always get approval from a child’s parents before serving any meals ordered by the child.