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Are You Doing Enough To Target The Family Market?

9:05 am

Are you catering for kids on your menu? How can you benefit from establishing a warm and welcoming family atmosphere at your venue?

You only have to look over the water at countries like Italy, France and Spain to see how children are encouraged to sit down and eat together with their relatives of all ages, even long into the night. In modern times, we seem to be adopting this element of the culture, with chain restaurants like Jamie's Italian appealing directly to family groups.

Families typically account for around 56% of food service sales but this number is currently on the rise. Naturally, the summer holidays provides more time for families looking to eat out, so what changes can you make to give your restaurant family appeal?

Space and Facilities 

Families with younger children naturally need more space at the table to accommodate accessories such as changing bags, toys and books. Allowing two extra seats per family is common practice among most restaurants to ensure everyone is comfortably seated.

Providing high chairs or booster seats is essential, and these come in a variety of finishes so that you can match them with your existing decor. In general, one chair and booster for every three or four tables is highly recommended. Bolero highchairs benefit from multibuy savings, so you can save by buying more.

Changing facilities will naturally help appeal to the parents of young children, so if you have these then be sure to advertise this clearly to prospective customers.

Creating a Family Atmosphere

A welcoming atmosphere stems from a perfect match of warm decor and friendly service. 

Firstly, think about a warm wood grain for your tables which exudes a natural, organic feel. Match your tables with similarly eye-catching, comfortable seating to make your dining space feel cosy and welcoming.

Next, subtle aesthetic touches such as artificial plants and flowers, artwork and bespoke decorations all add to the overall impression of your venue. If you can find a piece of art or a picture which relates to the history of your restaurant, make it easy to see as this will contribute to the inviting ambience that you want to create.

A smiling service always helps, but it's important for your staff to strike a balance between diligent service and friendly conversation, whilst leaving the family alone to enjoy their time together.

It's important to establish this family atmosphere before deciding on a menu or any promotions. The key to creating this lies in making the adults feel comfortable whilst bringing a child-focused theme to your venue. To do this, there's no need to redecorate with bright colours, but instead provide other forms of entertainment such as a play room, outdoor recreation area or even a simple aquarium. It's amazing to see how a basic fish tank can absorb a child's attention, even if the inhabitants don't feature on your menu!

There are a few ways to make adults feel comfortable too. Firstly, speak to your staff and find out how confident they are when looking after young children. If necessary, train them on some basic elements of service: to be patient and make the experience fun for the kids. This will ultimately make the adults feel more relaxed and impress them with your attention to detail. Ensuring you can meet the demands of the average family with younger children will be a key factor in their decision to make a return visit.

Allowing children to get involved is a major theme for well-established family restaurants. It's always good to encourage young adults to take an interest in the food and how it is made, so offering a taster class during the summer holidays is a perfect opportunity for them to learn and enhance their palettes. This is best suited to daytime hours, in between lunch and dinner service for example, when it is quieter and less disruptive.

Child-friendly Flatware and Cutlery

Save the parents searching desperately for a spare sippy cup in the bottom of a bag, and make sure you have plenty of disposable cups with lids and straws to hand. Cold cups from Vegware are fully compostable within 12 weeks, a forward-thinking sustainable alternative to other plastics. These cups are ideal for cold drinks or ice cream, and clear domed lids to accommodate straws . These are great for kids who are a 
little too young to drink out of an open top cup.

For children of all ages, melamine dinnerware is the ideal choice because these items are hygienic and incredibly hard wearing.

It's also important to make sure you have suitable cutlery for children to use. Polycarbonate cutlery is perfect for kids thanks to its safe and lightweight properties. The knives feature a serrated edge sharp enough to cut through most food but not sharp enough to pose any risks. This colourful range of cutlery also helps children make the transition to metal cutlery. 

Kid's Menu and Promotions

By creating a kid's menu you'll certainly win over the children but it also lets parents know that you've catered to them specifically. Just some ideas for promotions in family restaurants include: 

Build your own pizza
Free deserts for children under 2 years of age
Healthy sides

Buffets are another great idea for kids, especially for older kids as it makes them feel more like adults and that they are making their own decisions which is important too.  

Legal Seafoods, a chain restaurant specialising in fresh fish found that even with a wide selection of kid's favourites, many of the older children still wanted to repeat their parents menu choices, largely because it makes them feel grown up. This small degree of behavioural psychology is important to note, as its critical that your menu doesn't condescend to young adults.

Give the younger kids a chance to choose the food for themselves too by providing clear imagery alongside each menu choice, but again it's best not to make your font and menu style too infantile that it discourages the older kids. 

Activity Packs For Kids

Also dubbed as 'wedding favours', kids activity packs are another great way to appeal to families. The parents will be grateful to see their children occupied with fun, yet educational activities, whilst they dine as it helps them to relax and enjoy their meal.  

From colouring in animals to chefs' hats, providing plenty of healthy distractions for your little guests has many benefits for the family, your staff and the surrounding atmosphere. 

Ensure a heartfelt birthday speech isn't cut short by an unexpected outburst by keeping the kids busy at the table.

For all your catering equipment needs, don't forget to browse our latest offers at Nisbets

By Jeff Gibson


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