After all, around 50 percent of families include children, who are notoriously picky eaters. With kids your options are quite limited. You can eat fast food or you can go to one of a handful of restaurants. It’s not a great choice.
Children’s menus are often insipid, unhealthy, and uninspired. Hot dogs, macaroni and cheese (often neon orange and from a box), and chicken nuggets are generally the available options. What if a restaurant offered an imaginative children’s menu that was as flavorful and inspired as the regular menu?
Eye Candy Counts in Kids’ Meals
You will want the plate to be attractive to the parents as well as the child. The cute snail roll-ups pictured above are both memorable and delicious. They are the type of thing that parents tell their friends about, upload images to Instagram, and come back for.
Use smaller plates and fresh, colorful ingredients. This is where those beautiful purple potatoes, that bright orange cauliflower, and the red and white striped beets absolutely shine. Use small cookie cutters to turn steamed sweet potato slices into hearts and stars.
Nutrition and Flavor Are Priority
Don’t settle for less quality on the kids’ menu just because kids are eating it. If you do chicken nuggets make them yourself with a unique breading (Cap’n Crunch, maybe?) and house made dipping sauces. Create scaled down versions of your most popular menu items and then brainstorm how to make them look fun on the plate. Don’t leave the foods bland, either. A little salt and pepper plus the appropriate herbs are just as delicious to a six year old as a sixty year old.
Toys Are Optional
Many restaurateurs debate whether or not to give small toys away with the children’s meals. It is really up to you. It is nice to have a children’s menu that can be colored that is presented at the table along with a crayon or two but anything else is probably not going to make a big difference in your marketing success unless you are doing fast food.
If you do decide to provide toys get good ones. Cheap, easily breakable items are an irritant to the kids and the parents.
Kids Eat Free
Some restaurants offer free food for young guests during certain hours. This is a great idea that can increase your clientele pretty quickly. Choose off-hours for the free meals and use it to pump up business during those times. For example, offering a kids eat free option from 4:30 – 6:00 will get families in there when you normally wouldn’t be serving many people.
Generally children can no longer eat for free after the age of 12, although in some places it is 10. You’ll want to have a rule that the items must be ordered off of the children’s menu, and maybe only one free child’s meal per paying adult.
There are numerous ways to entice your small guests with unique and captivating menu ideas – it just takes a little forethought and planning.
image: Marye Audet