I’ve had this post brewing in my mind for months now. I should probably be writing about the toddler sleep issues we’re experiencing in our home right now but I’m gonna wait on that one. It’s a sensitive subject for all.
Back to the point, I’d once like to visit a restaurant that is truly kid-friendly. I think most dining establishments fail big time when it comes to catering to families. It can be quite an ordeal to take your child out to eat, especially if you’re the only adult or have more than one child with you. Here are few of areas I really think restaurant owners need to take into consideration.
1. Highchairs – Let’s start with the obvious. If you plan on having children dine in your restaurant you’ll want to have a few highchairs. And while I think it might be a requirement in most places there appears to be no code for safety or cleanliness. Most of the highchairs we use are filthy and broken. I doubt anyone ever cleans the highchairs, there is just a constant film of ick all over them. And what good does a broken safety strap do me? Or worst of all the safety strap designed for an anorexic baby doll, folks my son has thighs and a big ole cloth diaper butt. Let’s start by keeping kids safe and healthy.
2. Changing Tables – The next point I need to address is the lack of adequate changing tables. I mean if you have a kid’s menu and highchairs it should just be a given to have a changing table. It’d be nice to have one with a working safety strap and maybe a nice table nearby where I can put my supplies. If I’m changing a diaper away from home it’s probably not going to be super quick and clean. Additionally, why do men get out of changing diapers when we dine out? Father’s change diapers too. Put a changing table in the men’s room for goodness sake.
3. Menu – Kid’s menu options generally suck. I mean no wonder our country is full of fat picky eater children. If all you offer is fried chicken fingers and pasta that’s all they are going to eat. I’d like to see a kid’s menu that offers small portions of regular menu items. I mean when I pay $5 for a turkey sandwich I want more than a slice of turkey slapped between two pieces of white bread. I generally find that it works out better if I just order off the adult menu and split it. Jude loves tomatoes on his turkey sandwich and he’ll eat chicken curry and spinach and artichoke pizza. Choices people.
4. Service – Now this is a tricky topic because sometimes you just get a bum server but it should be a general rule that customers with children should be treated with the same respect as everyone else. But what I’d really love to see is a place where kids and families are treated special. A great example is Chick-fil-a, I don’t know if this is across the board or just my local stores but they have superb customer service for families. They understand I can’t carry my child, purse, push the high chair and carry my tray of food to the table. I think they do a good job caring for families. I’m not asking all restaurants to bend over backwards but a little extra care goes a long way.
5. Tables – This could fall into the highchair category but I thought it could use it’s own point. It drives me nuts when they put the high chair off to the corner of the table, as if my son would just like to watch the rest of us eat. He needs a place to eat too. He’s a person and despite the fact that he’s small he somehow manages to take up a lot of space.
6. Silverware, Napkins and Cups – This post is getting rather lengthy so I’ll combine these three. Basically, kid’s use (or should) use silverware when they eat, so maybe give them some. And they most certainly use napkins, lots of them. And I know it seems like a good idea to substitute to regular glass with a Styrofoam cup but it’s not. Take two tiny thumbs, insert in styrofoam cup and mom has a lap full of water. *Also if you’re bringing bread or an appetizer with small plates to my table bring one for my son… he’d like to use one.
Maybe I should start a kid-friendly dining room consulting business? But really most of this should be common sense.