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Building a Kid and Family-Friendly Restaurant

by kenzie on April 22, 2015

Earn the “family favorite” seal of approval for your restaurant. This is actually a wise business strategy not just now but for the future. Becoming family and kid friendly can actually increase the level of traffic you have. What’s more, you get to build a relationship with the next generation of diners – diners who, if they like you now, will most likely remain loyal to your restaurant even when they have grown up.

Here are some ways to build a restaurant that families and kids love:

-          Create a kid-friendly menu. Offer healthy but delicious and attractive meals. This keeps both the parents and the children happy. You can still offer a child’s favorites such as burgers and fries, but be sure to provide healthier options (i.e. whole wheat bread instead of white bread and organic vegetables). When crafting your menu, add more of finger foods, as these are the type of foods kids love to eat and are more convenient for the parents.

-          Playful plating. Have a theme for your meals and design your dishes with fun in mind. There are many ways by which you can create pictures using food (such as creating an image of a house or favorite cartoon characters).  This can also encourage children to eat their vegetables: “Look, ma, I’m eating the broccoli trees!”

-          Create visually attractive menus. The menu should tell its own story and should appeal to the visual aesthetics of a child. Work to create imaginative and attention-grabbing names for your food items.

-          Provide activities and kids’ corners to keep the children occupied while waiting. If you have the space, add a playground inside or outside of the restaurant. You can also provide paper for kids to draw their favorite menu items – this is a great way to get feedback from your little customers. Books, games and coloring books help to keep the children busy so that time does not have to go excruciating slow while they are waiting for their orders to come. This also provides some breathing space for parents to relax and talk while the kids are kept occupied.

-          Provide kid-friendly facilities. For instance, the washing areas should have sections that are low enough for a child to easily wash their hands. Provide restaurant high chairs, booster seats, changing tables at all the bathrooms or in a separate room. Keep a stock of diapers (in case the parents run out). Another important consideration is providing kid-sized and kid-proof utensils such as spill-proof cups. When filling cups, fill them only halfway to minimize spills.

-          Train staff to be kid-friendly. Waiters, especially, need to understand the needs of a child and to treat children as individuals. They should be willing to go the extra mile to be kind and friendly to kids. They are your customers, after all.

-          Provide a rewards and recognition program. Celebrate with the family, especially if they are going to the restaurant to celebrate a child’s achievement. For instance, offer a toy or an extra treat for children who have graduated in kindergarten or grade school or who have achieved excellent grades for the school year.

-          Post key information online. Some parents get on the net to decide which restaurants to go to and what food to order. For them, this cuts down on the drama and hassle and also ensures that the food is both kid-approved and parent-approved.

-          Provide kid’s happy hours. For off-peak times of the day, provide activities for families such as kiddie singalongs. This not only works to add traffic to your restaurant during off-peak hours, it also means that kid-free customers can enjoy a quieter and less busy dining room during peak hours.

-          Serve food within 10 minutes. This is a long enough time for kids and families to wait. After this, young kids may start to fuss, so work to bring out the kids’ meals quickly.

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Cutting edge technology has invaded the commercial kitchen – and this is very good news indeed! With the latest innovations, the commercial kitchen can become a safer, more energy-efficient and more productive place.

Aside from tablet ordering systems, here are some of the high-tech commercial kitchenware you can think about:

-          Commercial induction equipment. Although induction cookers have been in the market for years and have gained popularity, these have mainly remained as household kitchen items. Recent innovations indicate that induction technology is moving into restaurant kitchens. Induction cookers offer the advantage of faster heating and cooking times, precision control of heat, safety (since no fires are involved) and minimal ventilation requirements. The latest cooktops provide additional functions such as sous vide cooking, as well as mobile connectivity, so that you can control and monitor the cooking via a smartphone or tablet.

-          Touch screens. Interestingly, the user interface for these cookers resembles that of a smartphone or tablet. There are even moves towards incorporating a tablet-like screen in a cooktop so that staff can access recipes or job orders. The move towards touch screens also goes for other major restaurant equipment. Aside from cookers, manufacturers are also starting to integrate touch screen control systems to refrigerators, ice machines, deep fryers and other equipment.

-          Apps and restaurant operations. As they say, “There’s an app for that.” From making business plans and financial reports, managing staff and shifts, marketing, managing inventory to taking in reservations, mobile apps have made things accessible to your computer or mobile device. There are even apps that enable you to scan barcodes as you reorder your wholesale restaurant supplies. You can also use an app to implement your loyalty rewards program. However, remember that you need to manage and use apps wisely so that their very use will not take up too much of your time.

-          Connectivity. Some manufacturers have already designed specific mobile apps for their specific kitchen equipment so that you can view performance and diagnostics indicators, even when you’re away from the kitchen.

-          Smart thermometer. This connects to a mobile device and comes with its own app. Not only do you get to monitor the temperature and cooking progress via your mobile device, you can set reminders with regards to the cooking process (i.e. flip after 5 minutes).

-          3-D Food printer. This exciting innovation can add to a chef’s ability to incorporate breathtaking details to the food they present. Right now, 3D printers can churn out edible sugar and chocolate creations such as wedding cake toppers (you can even print intricate lace details or an exact replica of the married couple), garnishing for entrees, cocktails and desserts and personalized edible favors.

-          Monitoring by webcam. Managers don’t have to be in the kitchen area (or in the storage area or the delivery area) all the time – you can monitor your staff though high-tech cameras. These cameras come with complex algorithms that can detect if kitchen staff members comply with your operational procedures, as well as local health and safety codes. This includes monitoring whether staff are wearing sanitation devices such as hair nets and gloves or are washing their hands with soap or sanitizer. If you are a restaurant owner with several restaurants in separate areas, this monitoring system can ensure that you have “eyes” on all your restaurant branches.

-          Food wastage tracker. Currently in development is a waste auditing system where staff use a touch screen display to categorize the food that’s being thrown – whether the stuff that’s about to go in the bin contain meat, produce, diary or breads. The cause of the food waste can also be identified, whether it is comprised of trimmings, spoilage, plate waste or food that was prepared but not served. This way, restaurants can track just how much food and raw ingredients are thrown away and can implement measures to minimize unnecessary wastage.

 

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Some Considerations for a Highly-Productive Commercial Kitchen

April 8, 2015

The design and layout of your kitchen can do much to ensure that your kitchen staff is working efficiently and safely. Sometimes, faulty kitchen design has led to delays in bringing the food from the kitchen to the customer’s table. Faulty kitchen design can also cause mishaps and bottlenecks, and subsequently accidents that may cost […]

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Things to Consider When Starting a Catering Business

April 1, 2015

The food service industry is an exciting and highly-profitable one. It offers a lot of opportunities. This is very true for a catering business. Even with the economic crunch, you can remain competitive and profitable. However, before you start jumping into the business, here are some things you need to have in order to make […]

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Building Strategic and Profitable Restaurant Menus

March 23, 2015

The food service industry is highly competitive. As a restaurant, you do not only compete with other restaurateurs, you also need to be responsive to the changes in your customer’s needs and the ups and downs of the economy. Your menu can be an excellent way for you to be at the top of your […]

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Finding Success in the Buffet Restaurant Business

March 16, 2015

Buffet restaurants have their own attraction. For diners, buffets provide the opportunity to indulge in as much food as you can! Unlike a la carte meals, diners get to try a wide variety of dishes at portions they want and only pay one price.  Buffet diners are free to indulge and try new dishes and […]

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Getting the Right Equipment For Your Restaurant

March 9, 2015

Outfitting your restaurant kitchen can be a challenge. You need to strike the proper balance between your budget and ensuring the quality of the wholesale restaurant equipment you buy. Big-ticket commercial kitchen equipment such as ovens and cookers can run to thousands of dollars. Thus, you need to carefully do you research before buying a […]

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A Buying Guide for Portable Catering Equipment

March 2, 2015

If you are in the catering business, having portable catering equipment can help you expand your catering capabilities. Rather than doing all your cooking in your commercial kitchen, you can now cook up dishes on site. Indeed, some dishes are better tasting if they are cooked just before they are about to be eaten. And […]

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Restaurant Storage Basics: Shelving 101

February 23, 2015

Shelves are an important piece of restaurant equipment. These enable restaurants to make wiser and more efficient use of your kitchen and storage area’s limited space. However, a restaurant also needs to have policies and procedures in place to safeguard various areas of the restaurant’s operations. This will make the storage and kitchen area safer […]

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Developing an Appealing Menu (That Makes Money, Too!)

February 16, 2015

Your menu is central to your restaurant business. This is the primary product (aside from an ambiance or experience) your restaurant offers to its customers. The menu is a product of careful research – you do not simply piece together some personal favorites and offer this to the public. Like the central cog in the […]

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