Have you ever had a meal ruined by a kid at the next table? Half of the time you’re wondering why the parent doesn’t do something to fix the situation. The other half you’re wondering why the parent brought the child to this particular restaurant in the first place. Some kids are too young for certain restaurants. Some parents are too inexperienced to bring their kids to restaurants.
Yet we do take our kids out to eat at inappropriate places all the time. Sometimes it is the only choice we have. It might be cheaper to take the kid than get a sitter. it might be a gift certificate you have to spend before it expires. It might be that you just don’t realize what a nuisance your kids are to others because you’re used to their antics (and/or find them cute).
Whatever the case, if you are a restaurant owner, you’re going to have children in your establishment who might potentially ruin the experience for other guests. Yet, you’re the one who gets ripped on Yelp.
Unless you’re proactive and have planned for this contingency.
I was in Chicago yesterday doing presentations for the Independent Garden Center Show (#IGCShow) at Navy Pier. After my last class I headed out to meet a fellow toy store owner and dear friend for lunch. She directed me to Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish Market in the Lakeview area. It is both a Fish Market and a Seafood Restaurant. It is apparently run by a smart person who is either a parent or someone who has been annoyed by children in restaurants too often.
Seafood restaurants are typically the kind of restaurant you don’t take young children. They often haven’t developed the palate. While some seafood restaurants offer kiddy meals and other options, this restaurant took it to a whole new level.
You see the picture with all the cereal boxes. That’s only about 35-40% of their wall of cereal. Yes, you can quiet your children with a bowl of cereal. (You can even have one, yourself. They offer a substantial breakfast menu—not all seafood.)
I want you to look more closely at the bottom of the picture, though. Yes, those are children’s books. Books you can read to your children while you wait for your meal. Books your children can look through while you eat your meal. Books that keep kids quiet and occupied.
Kiddy meals are expected at restaurants, but a Wall of Cereal and Books to keep the kids occupied is certainly Surprise and Delight.
My hat is off to you, Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish Market, for taking it a step above your competitors. My guess is that the children LOVE to go to the fish market with their parents which means they are more willing to behave in the first place. Plus, it increases the average ticket for the restaurant and just might get those kids to develop a taste for seafood at a younger age.
That’s winning times four!
What can you do to take it to the next level?
PS The New Orleans BBQ Shrimp was fabulous! I highly recommend it!
PPS There are little things we do to appease the reluctant tag-along to our primary customer such as the “man seat” near the dressing room in a women’s clothing store. How can you take that to the next level? (Magazines? TV? Beverages?)