Making a Great Restaurant Experience for Families
We’ve all been to restaurants where there’s a kid climbing under our booths, or a baby crying the entire meal, of someone’s toddler spilled his milk on your shoes. Sometimes, dining experiences can be a drag—but it’s not just chaotic for the innocent, child-free clientele: dining experiences can be painful for the parents, too (take it from us!). But if there’s one thing for certain, eating out as a family is not a tradition that’s going away any time soon. That’s why we’re covering off on some key ways to make a great restaurant experience for families—one that will also be great if you’re flying solo.
Let’s talk cleanliness—one of the biggest sources of contention when dining with children at any restaurant. There are some pain points that are easily avoidable, if you’ve just got the right staff training in place. And if you’re a parent yourself, all the better! That just means you’re more likely to identify ways in which you can create a great atmosphere for families. Consider simple things, such as making sure each table has plenty of napkins (without them having to ask). Put lids on the kids’ cups, and insert straws before handing them over to the table. Put a dustpan nearby for impromptu messes. Take the kid orders first and make sure to bring them out ASAP—unless the parents want everyone to eat at the same time! Speaking of meals, triple-check all the goodies that are supposed to come with every child’s meal are present, and check back in frequently; there’s nothing worse than finally feeding your child, only to learn that the applesauce is missing or there is no ketchup on the table.
Like in nearly every situation, children are just aiming to have fun. That’s not going to change just because you’re dining out. Now we’re not saying you need to install video games at every booth, but there should be small (and mess-free!) sources of entertainment available to keep tiny hands occupied while you’re waiting on your grub. Crayons and coloring books are ideal, as well as small tabletop toys and games. Tablets are also a common addition to the family dinner table these days, so make sure there’s an outlet near any table with children.
While you should also have available highchairs and booster seats, there’s also the other equipment involved with taking kids anywhere! So make sure to have room to house strollers and car seats somewhere that’s not in the way of your other guests.
To keep everyone comfortable and at ease, try to seat families at booths. They often offer much more room to spread out and serve as a buffer between rowdy kids and the rest of your patrons. Plus, the less stressed the parents are about “keeping it down,” the better the experience is for everyone.
Finally, consider the service you offer. Tables with kids need to be checked in on regularly. Outside of a plethora of napkins, set out plenty of hand wipes to take care of sticky messes. Clean plates, dishes, and trash off the table regularly to avoid an overflowing tabletop. Your staff should also be well trained on what is appropriate versus non-appropriate behavior for a child at your restaurant; some venues are okay with kids running all over the place, while some are not. Stick to your ground rules and everyone will have a great time.
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