Battling the Fast Food Epidemic: Make your Restaurant Kid Friendly.

Convenience is the number one driver for busy families when choosing a place to eat. Fast food remains a popular choice, not only because of the convenience of the drive-thru, but because of the accessibility to menu choices for every age group.

Where I live, a busy community just outside a large, metropolitan city, there is a fast food chain on almost every corner. And scattered nearby are large restaurant chains that cater mostly to the younger, hip crowd—those without children to cart along on their nights out. I’ve tried taking my children to a few; it hasn’t been a success yet.

Here are 4 tips to improve the ‘kid-friendly’ rating of your own restaurant, and capitalize on your ability to provide a healthier option than the fast food chain down the street:

Go interactive! Kids aren’t always easy to keep entertained, and when dining in a restaurant, avoiding a scene is important for every parent as well as your other guests. My own son has had his fair share of meltdowns because crayons just weren’t cutting it (he’s two, so he wants to eat them, not play with them!). Consider electronic handhelds, or portable TV screens that you can provide parents with unruly toddlers. Not only are you giving the parents an opportunity to enjoy a quiet meal, but the rest of your guests will appreciate it too.

Dining room etiquette. Earl’s, a popular restaurant chain in Canada, recently came under fire in the social media for being unaccommodating to families by not carrying high-chairs. I frequented the chain myself before my kids came along, but no longer do so. I, too, was stuck with my baby on my knee when I visited after my son was born. Lesson: Keep your restaurant stocked with high chairs and booster seats, or risk alienating a huge revenue source and creating an opportunity for angry consumers to broadcast on social media.

Make it to go! For families who appreciate your great food but don’t have the time or inclination to dine in with their children, having carryout options that top the quality but match the service speed of the kid’s meals available at fast food drive-thrus can make your restaurant the go-to place for family dinner.

Choose fun. Healthier food options don’t have to be boring. Most parents are looking for an alternative to chicken nuggets and French fries, but don’t want to have to force-feed their little ones. McDonald’s tried with apple slices, but there are many different ways you can create ‘fun’ dishes without sacrificing convenience and health.

  • Mashed potatoes with natural food coloring
  • Build-your-own personal pizza bars with fun shaped vegetables
  • Grilled chicken bites with flavor dips
  • Vegetable medleys with a light cheese sauce
  • Pasta shapes with a healthy tomato marinara

It takes work and dedication to turn your adults-only restaurant into an all-are-welcome place for families, but the benefits in opening up your doors to more potential customers could be worth the effort. And every dollar counts.

Is your restaurant kid friendly?

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