Are you ready to build a loyal customer base who considers your restaurant the go-to for any occasion? Do you want customers who find your restaurant so delicious that coming back every day of the week sounds like a good idea to them? Well, have you considered making your restaurant kid friendly? Kid friendly restaurants can fill tables during late lunch or early dinner hours when your servers would normally be folding napkins, and because children build fierce loyalties (and have powerful methods of persuasion), your restaurant could become the new family dinner hotspot. First step: convince kids to come back again and again by building an awesome kids menu. Here are some tips to get you started.
Keep kids busy with engaging menus. Not only do engaging menus give parents a break, they also keep kids from getting bored and cranky. You can make your menu fun by adding tricky mazes, color-by-numbers, connect-the-dots (or connect-the-symbols for very little kids), and restaurant Mad Libs. Crayons are always a good idea for kids to have, but you don’t have to buy those sterile, brand new, plastic sealed ones. Kids are just as happy with a small set of well-used Crayolas in a colorful small pail. Great activities for kids menus can be downloaded from teacher websites–that way you’ll know the activities are engaging and age-appropriate.
Word to the wise: Don’t make your menu items too easy, kids spend hours every day solving tricky puzzles at school, at home, and on the Web, so mazes that have a few dead ends or more complex drawing activities will keep their attention longer.
Keep kids happy with good-looking menus. Try adding detailed borders that kids can color. Maybe you can combine the engaging and eye-catching factors of your menu by creating borders that kids have to build with themselves with connect-the-dots, or color-by-numbers. Try putting mazes in the borders. Make sure that your menus are gender neutral as well. Not all kids love princesses and ponies, but robots, adventure scenes, and pirate treasure maps tend to be pretty universal.
Word to the wise: When writing on a kids menu, use clear, easy-to-read fonts. Avoid fonts that look “wacky” or look like kid handwriting. Kids aren’t very good readers, and they will have a harder time reading a menu written with “cute” letters.
Keep parents coming back by providing healthy kid’s food options. Michelle Obama’s strong push is to get to get kids to eat healthier foods, so quesadillas and cheeseburgers have become old fashioned. To win the loyalty of health-conscious parents, consider adding whole grain options to your kids menu in the form of whole wheat bread or buns, or whole wheat pastas. Vegetables can be baked into pasta dishes or made into a fun shape on a plate to get kids eating healthy. Kids enjoy unique food ideas like burger-kebabs or skewered chicken tenders with ranch (grilled not fried), so let your imagination run wild… or try asking a kid you know for advice. Kids especially enjoy miniature food–try mini tacos or pint-size sweet potato fries to make regular items even more fun.
Word to the wise: Kids are allergic to many more things today and busy parents might overlook unexpected menu adds. Make sure to list ingredients for kids menu items so that parents clearly understand what their kids are ordering, and make your combos flexible.
Now that you have fun, eye-catching and healthy menus for children, it’s time to invite them in. It’s easy to keep your regulars happy while inviting in kids, just make your “half-off kids menu hours” fall earlier in the evening and remember to mark up that menu so that “half-off” ends up being a good deal for you and the parents you’re inviting in.
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