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How Parents Assess Kid-Friendly Restaurants

Families are back, researchers and analysts continuously say.

If you’ve been paying attention to what restaurant analysts have been saying these past months, you would know that families with children are slowly coming back to the restaurant scene, with statistics showing that the traffic for parties with kids are steadily rising in the last few quarters of 2011. Families, as reported, have grown tired of being suppressed with their spending habits–they will not burn money, but they will again have fun spending.

And when that happens, you would want to make sure that you’re on board. You’d want to make certain that you have what families want and that they will come and visit your family-friendly, kid-loving restaurant, just like what the bigger chains are doing these days (scroll down for yesterday’s post about Burger King’s efforts to endear themselves to parents).

So you have a diner who came with her colleagues and she exceedingly liked your food. She plans to come back, but silently checks out your place to see if you can accommodate her 1-year-old and 5-year-old kids. Take a glimpse at what’s on her mind:

Ambiance and Seating

1. Lively, joyful décor attracts children—that is, if you really want to convert your restaurant to a family dining place. But if you want to stick to your old concept and just want to add families to your target market, making the ambiance a bit lighter and glowing would do the trick.

2. How’s your seating? Having high chairs around are telltale signs of just how ready you are for children. Other than elevating the child to table level, high chairs help children keep still—it’s like a little prison, experts say. There’s a little belt there that keeps them in place, which makes things easier for everyone—you, the parents and the other diners. Booster seats are great, too.

3. Ample space. Children should not be counted as only an afterthought—they are part of the count. If you have a couple with a child, don’t squeeze them in a two-seater table. Kids grab things and throw them. Life would be a lot easier for you and your diners if you’d give them a four-seater.

4. Restrooms! Restrooms with changing stations—and survey says that both male and female restrooms should have one—signal to customers that your restaurant welcomes their children.

Menu Offerings

5. Kids’ menu with healthy, kid-sized portions and prices are great attractions for parents who love your regular adult menu in elegant café menu covers. Once they’d see that your menu has enticing, children’s food items (French fries, grilled chicken, turkey sandwiches, grilled cheese, plain pasta, etc.) and innovative and interesting fun drinks (fruit punches, frozen yoghurt mix, frost beverages, frozen-fruit slushies, iced-tea punch, tropical smoothies, milkshakes, etc.), they’ll come back and bring their brood with them.

6. Kids’ packaged meals, coupons, discounts or other value offerings. Surveys show that parents are likely to order packaged meal deals for their children. Common kids’ meal packages include the main meal, drinks and dessert, all for a fixed price. You can also consider other deals ideal for families, like free drinks, discount meals, or desserts.

Kids’ Experience

7. If you’re out to give an unforgettable dining experience for the adults, you can make sure the kids’ experience is awesome, too. Coloring books, crayons, candy bars at the end of the meal, their names in raspberry sauce on their plate, puzzles or stickers can make children request mom and dad to take them again to your restaurant. Themed dining events like pirate adventure, dragon quest, train-themed dinner or nautical dinner will also make them remember you more.

So that’s what’s on her mind. But then again, not everyone gets a chance to check your place for themselves. So you really have to do the most essential thing: promote, promote, promote! Your website should feature your children’s menu the same way it appeared on your physical menu with quality cafe menu covers, as parents usually research before they go to restaurants. You can also advertise your kid-friendliness with other kid-friendly partners, like kids’ attractions, museums, schools, bookstores, libraries, toy stores and kids’ clothing. Tell everyone you love children, and before you know it, you will have a whole new generation of loyal customers.