Just because the place has a kiddie meal with a toy doesn’t mean they’re a family restaurant.
Families love family restaurants because it’s a place where they can celebrate and have a break from home cooking. As a working parent, I truly appreciate family restaurants especially when on days when I’m simply too tired or too lazy to cook (or too tired and lazy to do the dishes).
But I find it so frustrating that some “family restaurants” have no idea what amenities families need when dining out. Children are not miniature adults. You need to make a few concessions to make them more comfortable. And when the kids are comfortable, the adults are comfortable. And when everybody’s comfortable, everybody will want to go back to your restaurant.
Families don’t need much. As a parent, I only look for 4 things in a restaurant. The first 2 are essential, the second 2 are optional.
family friendly and yet they don’t have any high chairs. It’s like they have this idea that families with infants and toddlers don’t eat out.
It’s also annoying that some restaurants that claim to cater to children and toddlers only have one high chair. Seriously? One high chair? You want to fill your restaurant with children but you only have one high chair?
I do appreciate the effort that some restaurants go through to provide several high chairs for their guests. They even go through the trouble of having these chairs custom-made to fit their decor. But when I tested out their high chairs I get the impression that chair was made by someone who doesn’t know how rambunctious kids can be. For the most part, they look like glorified bar stools.
Restaurant owners, please, have more than 1 high chair per restaurant and make safety a priority for your high chairs. We don’t care how pretty or ugly it looks, as long as it can strap them in and keep them there for the rest of the meal.
2. Restrooms. Children, especially toddlers in potty training, can’t hold it in that long. And parents need a private place to change and dispose of diapers. Some restaurants, especially mall restaurants, don’t have their own restrooms. You often have to go to the common restroom, which for some reason is always really far from the restaurant.
Restaurants owners, please provide a restroom. I assure you that even a teeny, tiny one within the premises would be much appreciated. We would much rather go back to restaurant that has its own clean restroom so we can have a bit of privacy than walk to a large common restroom that’s located a block away.
3. Smaller utensils. I admit, watching a toddler try to eat her food using a tablespoon is funny. But I also know how uncomfortable it is for my daughter to do so. It’s a good thing most restaurants do have teaspoons (or coffee spoons, dessert spoons, or plastic spoons for take out, which are smaller) to make eating more comfortable for toddlers and small children.
4. Distraction items. Things to help keep our kids occupied while waiting for the meal isn’t necessary but very much appreciated. Kids hate waiting and they can get restless when they know they have to wait for their meal. As parents, we usually pack stuff like this (crayons, toys, books) but we do sometimes forget. A restaurant that has these items available will earn our never-ending gratitude and patronage for helping us keep our kids on order.
What motivated me to write about I know how hard it is to eat out with a baby or toddler in tow. I also know how hard it is to find a restaurant that can make eating out a fun experience of everyone.
I do know for a fact that there are some restaurants out there that do make an effort to do this. Most franchise restaurants and fast food places have this down pat. Yeah, these places can be boring in the long run but families go back to them because they make dining with children easier. Although, there are some restaurants that have surprised me over the years for being unexpectedly child friendly. I want to share one of those places with you.
When my husband and I were still dating, we liked going to Muang Thai in Quezon City. It had the right ambiance for romance and great Thai food. Eight months after I gave birth, we went back to Muang Thai with my in-laws to celebrate my daughter’s 8th month birthday.
I was surprised to find that they had custom-made and sturdy high chairs that fit their decor (we did reinforce it a bit though because it didn’t fit my daughter’s frame). And to keep my baby occupied, they lent us a wooden toy frog that she can play with. They didn’t have a kiddie meal and my daughter was still on semi-solids so she couldn’t eat anything that was on the menu. But the staff did give recommendations on what Thai foods didn’t have too much spice in them that children may like. Their restroom didn’t have a diaper changing table but the restroom sink had counter tops wide enough so I could easily change my daughter’s diaper by myself. They even offered to let me use their plate and teaspoon to feed my daughter so she could feel like she’s part of the family meal.
It’s usually a date place but the restaurant and its staff really went out of their way to make eating out with my child a fun experience. That is the mark of a true family restaurant. Great food, great service and a wonderful dining experience for families.
- Family restaurant? Lack of high chairs at Earls sparks food fight (theprovince.com)
- What are some Toddler-friendly places in Manhattan? (ask.metafilter.com)
- Kid-Friendly Restaurant: Saigon Boy Noodle House (pubpatioplaydate.com)