Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Letter To Restaurateurs

When dining out, my oldest son's appetite seems to be directly linked to how much his meal will cost. Free kid's meal? He'll clean his plate and ask for more. An $8 meal? Two bites at best. But that's not really what this blog is about.

Today I'm sending out a request to the people who are in charge of restaurant menus: Please don't underestimate your tiny diners' taste buds!

Would you like some crackers with your caviar? It's terrific to offer "kid-friendly" food on your Kids' Menus. Especially if it's food you don't have on your "grownup menu." You are acknowledging kids can be picky eaters, and have included classic kid-food choices to make parents happy and bring smiles to many little mouths.

However, some kids like a bit of spice. A touch of "Bam!" A little something different. My son loves hot sauce. He doesn't really like French fries, but he'll eat onion rings--after removing the batter. He and his brother love olives and mushrooms, avocados and hummus, broccoli and cauliflower. Some kids love cheese, some hate it. There are kids who only like fruit. Kids who despise salt and pepper. (And any one of those kids may have a completely different viewpoint on food at the next meal.) Some kids are picky eaters, some are adventurous. Some go with the flow, some have very specific ideas about their meals, and most will turn into tantrum-throwing monsters at some point. You're not going to please them all. But don't lump them all together. Kids are just like us, only they tend to voice their opinions in louder, and more dramatic, ways than most adults.

At a burger place, it's perfectly acceptable to have burgers dominate the kids' menu. But when we visit an Mexican restaurant, I don't want my kids to choose between a cheeseburger and chicken nuggets. And why would an Indian restaurant only offer pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches to diners 10 and younger?

My family has visited some restaurants with really cool choices for kids, and many with nothing but boringness. If you run a restaurant, please don't shy away from offering versions of your specialties to the kiddos, too--Start building loyalty to your food early! Thank you for kids menus. Thank you for smaller portions and smaller prices. Keep up the good work. And don't forget to include a few choices for the kids who decide they want to step away from nuggets and pizza!

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