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5 Ideas for Kid-Friendly Tables

Eliminate the kids menu hassle and waste with these options for fun, easy pre-meal entertainment

By Sarah Ann Noel - July 13, 2018

Our restaurant consultants have written before about the importance of kid-appeal in your restaurant to help make your guests comfortable. A large percentage of your guests will be families and groups with kids. Keeping a few tools on-hand to mitigate a family-friendly experience makes it easier on you, the family, and your other guests.

But it can be a hassle and a large cost to stock and handout special kids menus and crayons or other toys. It generates a lot of waste and extra costs in your budget. So our restaurant consultants have come up with a few options that lessen waste and spending, while still making for a welcoming family environment. In fact, these ideas actualy have a more personal touch than a generic activity paper, and can be a great way to increase the neighborhood vibe of your restaurant.

1. Book baskets. Start simple and crowdsource a broad range of kids hardback books. If you need to make purchases to fill in your collection, check used book stores and secondhand childrens stores for affordable options. Ten or so books in a small basket are perfect to set in the middle of a table of kids.

2. Pizza dough. Set aside small portions of your day's pizza dough and deliver small balls to each kid waiting for their meal. It's as good as playdough and doesn't require any outside resources. (If your restaurant doesn't serve pizza, consider a simple saltdough recipe.) 

3. Table games. Instead of sending a few pre-drawn tic-tac-toe boards to the table, supply the table with games. They could be a permanent installation on each table, not only fun for kids, but adults, too. A great example is the peg game on every Cracker Barrel table--iconic. Or, consider a library of simple table games that whole families can "checkout" while they wait.

4. Conversation sticks. This requires a little up-front effort, but supply tables with jars of "conversation sticks." You can use large popsicle sticks or a predesigned option, like these dice. It's a great way to keep kids entertained but without disconnecting them from the table. Engage whole families at once.

5. Make Your Own Meal options. Let the kids participate in the meal making. For kids meals, consider things like mini-pizzas, tacos, or sandwiches, and deliver the pieces ahead of time. Let the kids "decorate" their pizza, top their tacos, or build their sandwiches to keep them occupied until the adult meals arrive. (This especially works for parents who prefer the kids meals to precede their own.)

What ideas do you employ in your restaurant? Do you have a lot of kids and families? To discuss these and other options--both for kid menus and adults--contact a restaurant consultant today. There's always a way to make your restaurant even better.

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash