Catering to kids and families can pay dividends!
Catering to kids and families can pay dividends!
It’s a FACT that kids Do determine where the family eats out and they want to go to the FUN PLACE.. Parents also want to eat out where the kids are entertained and they can just relax and enjoy their meal in peace. Here’s how to make your restaurant “THE” fun choice for families.
Most restaurants have really boring kid menu/coloring sheets and take no thought to how Powerful these are as a fun branding tool to make kids want to come back again and again. It all starts with your restaurant’s theme… come up with some pictures for kids to color that bring your brand to life… If your place is all about sports… have your pictures depict your local big league teams…. If your place is known for family recipes create pictures of your classic food dishes… you get the picture! At least one of your employees has artistic talent.. ask them to create your creative pictures that are on-brand. You can also integrate your kid’s menu food items into the pictures.. get creative and then round out the fun with a Maze (maybe also part of your theme), word search with names of your food items or other on-theme ideas and that old favorite Tic, Tac Toe.
Rent a Helium Tank from your local beer gas vendor and keep this and a supply of balloons at your host counter… Give every kid a balloon at the end of the meal as they leave your restaurant… better yet, have your balloons custom made with your restaurant’s logo big and bold when the balloons are inflated.. Even cooler, hire a balloon-animal tying clown on your busiest nights… Balloons are super fun and super popular with kids.
Facepainting is super fun and popular… you can easily find non-toxic face paints at the mall or online. Have one or a couple of your artistic employees paint the faces.
How about a fishbowl at your host counter filled with “Dum Dum” brand lollipops, “Smarties” or other fun candies. Speaking of fishbowls, lots of restaurants have cool big fishtanks with tropical fish in their restaurants to attact and entertain the kids. I’ve even seen some with fresh lobsters that the restaurant has on the menu and even swimming turtles – how cool is that?
Make a giant Pirate’s Treasure Chest out of a banker’s box storage container or wrap it in fun wrapping paper like a giant present with a huge colorful Bow. Have a slot cut in the top of the box and then fill the chest with inexpensive toys like Army men, water pistols, little dolls, temporary tattoos, yo-yo’s – you name it. As the family leaves your restaurant, every kid gets to reach in the slot to take a prize. You can find all kinds of inexpensive novelty toys at “orientaltrading.com”
As I already mentioned, the Kid’s Coloring Contest is a huge idea to build repeat business. Have every kid pass in his finished coloring sheet with his name and family email address on the back. Send an email a few days later to every kid who entered announcing that they WON a $5 Certificate back at your restaurant. The kid is sure to want to come back again to use the $5.
Arcade Games are HUGE and will never grow old… best of all, they’re a New Profit Center for your restaurant. Parents are more than happy to give the kids lots of dollars and quarters to keep them occupied, having their own fun with other kids away from the table. Many larger beer distributors or dedicated Arcade/Juke Box companies will provide the latest arcade games, pool tables, pinball, ATM Machines and a Coin Changer to your busy restaurant (and maintain them) at NO Charge to your restaurant in exchange for ½ of the revenues the machines take in at your place.
NOTE: The absolute Must Haves are the “Crane Skill Games” filled with stuffed animals or jewelry, candy, small toy knick knacks, etc… You can’t go wrong having at least two Crane games for kids to win.
If you have the room, set up a Kids “Make Your Own Ice Cream Sundae Bar”.. a guaranteed every kid must have activity that just rings your cash register. If you serve pizza, have a “Make Your Own Pizza” menu item, bringing little trays of pizza dough and topping containers to the table where the kids can spread the sauce, add cheese and top their own pizza. Your server then brings the kids pizzas up to the pizza oven for baking before serving back at the table.
Whether you serve pizza or not, have dough balls on hand that the kids can roll, shape or create animals with.
My biggest Kid idea ever was creating a KIDZ KARNIVAL! This dedicated idea built one of our slowest nights into a busy one. Kidz Karnival was designed for 12 and unders. Here’s the magic formula: Find some space in your restaurant (on the stage, in a function room, etc..). Come up with a series of kid games (ring toss, hopscotch, apple bobbing, “Twister”, photo-ops, dough table, bubble blowing, joke telling, Pictionary, Eat a Devil Dog and first kid to whistle contest, facepainting, etc…. Pay one of your kid-friendly employees to be the “Kamp Kounselor” to entertain kids for a 2 hour period on a slow night (maybe this is Sunday in your place). Again, the ideas really are endless, especially with a fun, imaginative Kounselor.
Have a colorful Giant Banner Printed announcing the Kids Karnival and hang it where the fun will happen. Have inexpensive Prize Giveaways for every kid (maybe a reach-in to the Pirate Treasure Chest, a helium balloon, etc..
NOTE: The Kounselor is NOT a substitute for parental discipline so make it clear to parents that if a child is not “playing well with others in the sandbox”, back to the table he/she goes