Dare to be different.
They say that in the largely saturated market of restaurants, one needs to be different to win the game. In trying to increase restaurant sales, many acts in response to the economic downturn by lowering price points and offering discounts; but when everyone else does the same, and the effect doesn’t change at all. We all know, of course, that price is not merely the main issue—user experience matters a lot, too: a balanced blend of surroundings, cuisine, atmosphere, service and innovative ideas.
We have known about many restaurants that offer their customers an out-of-the-ordinary experience—from restaurants that serve meals high-up in the sky, to those that are located under the sea. And there’s this restaurant in Amsterdam, Netherlands that is being run by children.
Kinderkookkafe is located in one of Amsterdam’s public urban park, Vondelpark, and is a favorite hang-out of parents and children. Parents visit the place to relax as their children take over and help run the restaurant for a day. They come to eat, and with adult supervision, the children are allowed to don their own cool kids’ chef hats and cook meals, bake cookies and pies, wait and clear tables, wash up, serve drinks behind the bar (soft drinks only) and write checks. It’s like playing restaurant, although this time, all the props, including the customers, are real.
Kids who are 8 years old and above are allowed to join the serving and kitchen staff, and during Sundays, children who are at least 5 years old are permitted to join the Sunday bake. The food served is deemed healthful with fresh ingredients, which often includes a main course and a dessert. Kinderkookkafe also serves authentic Holland dishes like hootspout (stewed beef with vegetables or potato mash), stampot (potato mash with smoked sausages and cabbage) and Groninghen’s mustard soup. The average cost of a menu item is 10 Euros, and reservation is necessary to save a slot for children helpers.
Kinderkookkafe was opened in 1981 by three ladies who all had backgrounds in the profession of teaching, and are great believers that adults need to train children to take responsibility for their own learning. Their vision was a child-centered establishment where children take responsibility for jobs that are typically done by adults, and allow them to learn as much as they can.
So Kinderkookkafe was born, and for twenty years now, parents bring their children to the restaurant, allow them to wear kids’ chef hats and come up with all sorts of creation in the kid-sized kitchen that’s allotted for them. The kids decorate cupcakes, make pizza and make sausage animals with the assistance of adult helpers, while parents relax and enjoy the fruits of their offspring’s labor. They take great pleasure in seeing their little ones mingle with the other children while they serve, bartend, clear tables, write menu cards and bring the bill to their diners.
Now, Kinderkookkafe has become a landmark in Amsterdam—proof that daring to be different does pay off.