You won’t surprise anybody with a separate room for kids in a shopping mall. Yet sometimes when people want to take the kids out for a nice lunch they simply can’t find a suitable family friendly restaurant with playgrounds and menu for kids.
People don’t always have the opportunity to leave the child with a minder to go meet friends and just chill somewhere that isn’t their living room.
What we are saying is that if your restaurant is family-oriented and you have a kids’ playroom, then most likely this will ensure a steady fullness in the daytime at weekends.
Usually, small kids have their own regime and parents have to stick to it; older children can’t sit still for long in one place and will “drag” their parents off to the park, cinema, ice rink, etc. That is why families rarely sit down to a meal for long. So if a restaurant has a play area that occupies the children for a while, chances are the parents will stay longer and, as a result, keep ordering more.
Competition in the food service industry is high, so restaurateurs have to “fight” for visitors to expand their base of loyal customers. And becoming a baby friendly restaurant where families with children can chill on weekends is a great option.
It’s important not just occupy the children, but to turn every visit into a special event and make sure that next time they will beg their parents to return to your place. Let’s figure out together how to create a kid-friendly restaurant.
The kid-friendly concept is not for everybody
No matter how great and profitable the idea of children’s rooms seems to us, there are obvious reasons why it is not suitable for certain restaurant concepts.
Clearly, it is unreasonable to go to a pub or bar and demand a special menu for the kids. Alcohol and children don’t usually go together very well.
The restaurant class also plays an important part. Whether a premium or a luxury restaurant, the target audience has different needs. Businessmen and entrepreneurs are used to mixing dinner with business and negotiations, so a children’s room that produces noise and distraction will definitely be superfluous.
Ways to keep the kids occupied
Creating kid-friendly restaurant with play areas you need to decide on the type of room you are going to have in your place. There are a few options for ranging a play area for kids:
- A space totally separate from the dining hall.
- A play area visible through a glass wall or enclosed by a small fence on a summer terrace.
- A space inside the dining room.
The most popular, affordable option is to situate the area for kids as a separate space inside the main hall, which also has the advantage of making it easy to organize: small decorative fences, small furniture, a toy box, coloring books, markers, pencils, etc. For some parents, the opportunity to monitor their children constantly is a fundamental requirement, so this arrangement will give you another plus. It’s an appropriate solution for a restaurant on a low budget with a loyal, middle-aged clientele. However, some of the guests at your restaurant, not liking the company of children, will find it a distraction.
What all children like best is a separate playroom, where they feel free from their parents’ control while still being supervised by restaurant staff. This type of room won’t cause discomfort to guests who came without kids; at the same time, though, it will cost you more than the previous option. After all, you need to hire additional staff, set up the room, and do repairs according to all the health and safety codes to provide maximum security and comfort. Some large restaurants allocate for the children’s room a hall equivalent to the main one. They do this to maximize the convenience of placing groups of children by age and preferences.
The fenced area visible from the main hall is a compromise between the two solutions described above. On the one hand, the children get to hang out separately, while on the other, their parents can still look out for them from a distance. But there are also pitfalls and one of them is that, again, the other guests may be bothered.
Main requirements for a kid-friendly restaurant
- Space. Children are very active and there is never enough space for them. At the same time, not every restaurant can afford to provide a large area. But don’t be discouraged! Smaller areas still can be organized in such a way as when kids are occupied and involved in a gaming process. As an option, you could set up a TV broadcasting cartoons and educational programs. Also, kids still love old school stuff like Lego, 3D puzzles, and coloring books.
- Options for all ages. If you organize a room for babies only, then what dot the older kids do? It’s better to have a range of games and furniture sizes that suit different ages. You need to please everyone and become a kid and teen friendly restaurant! Or at least try to.
- Safety. Everything should be as safe and predictable as possible. No sharp corners, slippery floors, small parts that can be swallowed, and sockets without covers.
- Lightweight and compact furniture. Use strong plastic furniture with bright colors or branded according to the specific topic of the room (Disney, Marvel, DC, etc.). The furniture should be non-hazardous, easy to assemble and easy to wash. You could also consider having beanbags or large cushions for the kids to rest on after eating or running around. If you plan to become child friendly restaurant where kids can play and eat at the same time, you need to think through all options.
Staff serving kids
Kids are customers too and they need to have appropriate service. No matter how luxurious the children’s room in your restaurant, without staff who will watch and entertain the children, it is almost useless. Often, waiters are young people who don’t yet have children, so they find it quite difficult to approach small guests in the right way. That is why it is worth hiring a person with experience of working with children. Best of all, somebody with a pedagogical or medical background.
For a small family restaurant, it can get expensive keeping a staff member in this position permanently. Most likely, his/her services will only be required at weekends and on holidays, so you will always be arranging future schedules. When it comes to a bigger restaurant with a separate room for children, it is worth considering someone full time.
Menus for kids
Always keep in mind that children and adults have different diets so it is best to consider these features in advance. We have several recommendations for making a menu for kids:
- Make small portions.
- Food shouldn’t taste too intense. It is better not to add too much salt, spice, and fat.
- Some children will have allergies, so there should be items on the menu that don’t contain the main allergens (gluten, dairy, nuts, etc.).
- Add vegetarian dishes.
- Serve sweets and desserts only with parental permission.
The rest depends on your restaurant’s cuisine. Quite naturally, the children’s menu will partially duplicate general menu items, but with funny names and illustrations. Children are visual! The design of the menu can make an impression on a child more than anything else.
Be smart about pricing the kids’ menu! Don’t set prices too high or too low. In any case, the cost of the food will be much lower as portions are at least twice as small.
A couple more things to make your restaurant kid-friendly
In addition to the children’s room, equipping the main hall won’t be superfluous. Families with babies will want to sit at the same table, so you must have booster seats and high chairs for the youngest guests at the restaurant.
Many parents look for restaurant suitable for toddlers. Be sure to equip the bathroom with changing stations, so that parents can comfortably change the baby’s clothes in an enclosed area if necessary.
And of course the service! Your staff should create the most comfortable atmosphere and treat guests with patience and care. People should feel that they are taken care of and their comfort is important at your place. The loyal and happy customers are the first step to increasing the average check.
At the initial stage of equipping the children’s room everything seems very expensive, but believe us, if your restaurant is truly family friendly, all these expenses will pay off very fast.