When creating a guest experience, you likely spend your time focused on adults—but don’t overlook their kids. Children can have a big influence on where to eat, insisting on a specific location with the same fervor that they can reject one. From the food to simple moments of entertainment, here are ways to help your smallest patrons (and their parents) to choose your restaurant.
Little Tummies, Big Benefits
There’s good reason to invest in giving kids the best experience at your restaurant. Not only can it build loyalty and name recognition among children, but it can also benefit your bottom line. While the prices on kids’ menus make dining out more affordable for families, their repeat visits—and orders off the main menu—can add up fast.1
Conversely, you also have the opportunity to upcharge on premium items like fancy french fry dip, take-home juice cups or seasonal LTOs.
For a successful meal, the food on your kids’ menu must live at the intersection of what kids want to eat and what their parents feel good about them consuming.
As the children of millennials, today’s younger diners are naturally exposed to the health-conscious choices of their parents.2 So while classics like hot dogs and mac & cheese were staples in the past, we’ve found they are slowly being replaced by unique and better-for-you choices,3 like:
- Broccolini (up 28%)
- Alternative proteins (up 17%)
- Falafel (up 4.4%)
- Grilled salmon (up 4.4%)
- Spinach tortellini (up 4.4%)
51% of millennial parents say healthier kids’ menus drive them to restaurants more often.4
Kids can be persuaded by the simplest joy, and parents are quick to recognize that. Think about what low-effort, unexpected touch can make the visit memorable. Here are some ideas:
A Presentation to Remember: Serve food with a little extra flair. Try pancakes lined up like a snowman, sandwiches cut into fun shapes or drinks served with a silly straw.
Adventure on the Plate: Offer a sweet-salty-sour-bitter sensory plate as an appetizer, giving kids the chance to explore ingredients that have varying tastes.
Color Them Surprised: Instead of a few crayons and a paper menu, leave a box of trivia cards on the table to inspire conversation. Or get resourceful: Red Wagon Pizzeria in Minneapolis hands out their own floured dough balls for kids to play with before their meal arrives.
Grammar Check: Kid’s, Kids’ or Kids Menu?
While we’re on the topic, should you list your children-only options under a Kid’s Menu, Kids’ Menu or Kids Menu? Grammatically, the menu is for all children, so Kids’ Menu is correct. But at the same time, as only one child chooses something from the section, it’s technically a Kid’s Menu. It’s also a menu under the topic of “children,” much like an Appetizer Menu or Drink Menu, so Kids Menu works just the same. Our recommendation: pick one and be consistent. Unless you’re a grammar-themed restaurant, few guests should have an issue with it.
1 PMQ 2021
2 Food Institute 2021
3 Restaurant Business Online 2021
4 Technomic 2020