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7 Ideas to Make Your Restaurant Family-Friendly

Updated: Jun 21, 2020

An establishment that is well-known in the community as a go-to place where families gather whenever they want to dine out every single week.

A perfect venue to host special family occasions like birthday parties or any event to celebrate a family member's milestone.

To be the most family-friendly business. That should be the goal of your restaurant.

Do you think Chick-fil-A and McDonald's are known as two of the friendliest restaurants for no reason?

Definitely no, there must be a tremendous amount of strategy behind everything they have done in their restaurants in many different aspects to be family-friendly.

One is obviously their play areas that make it very convenient for couples to finish their meals without the hassle of dealing with "bored" children.

If the kids are done eating, they can just go to the play area while their parents are having a good time while they finish their meals and have a good conversation.

It is rare for couples to do that when they go to restaurants with kids.

And with all these things, that maybe you and I can not afford to have, however, it's more about identifying the problems that they were able to solve by having those designated areas for kids to play and be resourceful on how we can recreate some of those things in our own restaurants.

In addition to that, they have fun kid's place mats that absolutely attract children. They have kid's meals that come with a toy and an ice cream cone that surely kids loved.

They also have sanitizers that they offer to boys and girls the minute they come out of the play area.

They even have a little stool in the bathroom for the little ones to step on to wash their hands, how thoughtful is that, right?

So they have gone through a colossal amount of thought and strategy, and obviously, they have teams for that, thinking about what are the problems that parents encounter when going to restaurants and how are they going to be a go-to place for families.

For small businesses like us, we can absolutely take simple steps on our own to make our restaurants more family-friendly, it is just a matter of creativity and diligence to be one.

First, you must consider these 4 basic requirements for you to become a more family-friendly restaurant:

1. High chairs - Make sure you have enough high chairs or booster seats for babies and toddlers that your people clean every day.

2. Changing tables - The restrooms must have a changing station for mothers to be comfortable in changing their babies' diapers because if you don't then perhaps you are sending to moms message that your restaurant is not so kid-friendly.

3. Kid’s menu - We all know that most children are picky eaters so you need to come up with menus that are appetizing for the kids and overall can give them a good experience.

4. Kiddie cups - The majority of the families would prefer little cups with lids for their young ones because they are easier to use and to avoid any mess.

So now that you are fully aware of the primary things that you need, here are 7 ideas for you to become a more family-friendly restaurant:

1. Coloring/activity sheets - This is the most common idea that you can consider, it is extremely easy, grab something from the internet and make it on your own.

We did a lot of kids' activity sheets in our pizzeria. We purchased 250 boxes of crayons from Amazon for like $10. You want to make sure that you have plenty of them when the little kids fill out the activity sheets.

When they paint something, we do post it on the wall. We have this area that we called the "Kid's Art" section where kids get to display their works on the wall, this is very nice because every time they visit us, they see their names on it.

We asked kids to put their names and age on the sheets and we even give away sheets that have a message like "Fill out this activity sheet and get a free zeppole donut with a minimum purchase of $10."

That way, the kids can bring an activity sheet home, they can fill it out and ask their parents to come back to the restaurant and get the freebies. That apparently increases our repeat business.

So be creative, coloring or activity sheets really work, on Mother's Day or Father's Day or any occasions, we redesign our activity sheets a little bit so it is more contextual to what's going on, what's the season and it's more heartfelt, hence being more appealing to families.

2. Train/Lego table - This is something that we learned from frequently visiting barns, adding a train table, they even have a Lego table and we applied that to our own restaurant.

It usually costs somewhere around $100-$150 to purchase one from Amazon and set it up in a little corner in your restaurant.

We received dozens and dozens of compliments from families being happy about that because their kids enjoy it and it keeps them busy so the couples can have a little conversation and almost have a mini-date.

We may not afford a whole play area like what Chick Fil A's or McDonald's offer but to have a budget of $150 and add a little feature to your restaurants like a train or a lego table isn't bad at all, that can definitely make more families visit and come back to your place.



3. Man in costume - Along with the ways of keeping the kids busy with activities to do, one of the greatest things you can make is to purchase costumes, like pizza, burger, taco costumes, etc.

On Friday nights, we have our Pizza guy come out, wave and say hello to the kids and they really loved it, they even take photos with the Pizza guy.

That costs less than $50 of investment, depending on what you want to get, but little activities like this can go a long way.

Have a team member that you can pay extra to do this a couple of hours within your busy shifts or whenever you hold a fundraiser or any event to come out with a face painting or a balloon, etc.