Mike Parker

When you think of kids and restaurants, playgrounds and finger foods might be the first things that come to mind. But full-service restaunteurs have a different perspective. Savvy chefs don’t see children as tagalongs with their parents, who must be tolerated; but as future loyal customers. If they can attract youngsters with tasty cuisine and an engaging atmosphere now, they’ll have a loyal customer for years, or even decades.

According to the National Restaurant Association, a number of menus trends have emerged as restaurants attempt to cater to kids.

  1. Healthy Choices – What kids like to eat, and what parents want their kids to eat, doesn’t always coincide. Chefs are being challenged to create healthy menu items to satisfy choosy parents, that are tasty enough to satisfy picky children.
  2. Gourmet Selections – Grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken fingers might be staples on the kid’s menu, but savvy chefs know that expanding a child’s palate now will encourage more adventurous eaters in the future.
  3. Salads – While leafy green vegetables might not be a kid’s first choice, but offering fun alternatives, like baby carrots, sliced apples, multi-colored cherry tomatoes and seasonal berries can make salads a healthful hit with children.
  4. Ethnic Foods – Kid-friendly versions of popular world cuisines can give children an appreciation of different cultures; and we’re not just talking tacos and pizza here. Visionary chefs are introducing everything from curry to sushi, in portions and recipes that are just right for kid-sized appetites.

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