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How to Create a Kid-Friendly Restaurant

How to Create a Kid-Friendly Restaurant

Kids can be picky eaters, and catering to the tastes of young diners is challenging. Parents are familiar with the struggle of finding a restaurant that truly welcomes families. A kid-friendly restaurant goes beyond having child-sized chairs or a kids’ menu. It’s about curating a whole atmosphere and experience that caters to the preferences of young diners and their families.

That’s why designing the perfect kid-friendly restaurant requires thoughtful consideration and meticulous planning to ensure a delightful experience for parents and children. From customizing the menu and including healthy and delicious options that adults and children love, to ensuring the interior design is attractive for all family members. Our guide will outline everything owners need to make their restaurant a hit with families eating in restaurants with kids!

What is a Kid-Friendly Restaurant?

Kid-friendly restaurants are perfect for families to dine out and enjoy an evening together. These restaurants cater to both the needs of parents and their children, providing healthy menu options, fun activities, and a welcoming atmosphere. Typically, kid-friendly restaurants incorporate features such as colorful decor, play zones, activities, and entertainment.

National chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, and Chick-fil-A have long been known for their kid-friendly menus, which typically feature smaller portions and options for sides and drinks that are popular with children. Additionally, they offer gifts, activities, and other facilities tailored for kids.

How to Create a Kid-Friendly Restaurant?

Before starting a restaurant business for kids, certain factors must be incorporated to ensure the little ones will be entertained while parents enjoy their meals peacefully. With the right ingredients, you can turn your restaurant into a crowd-pleaser for all ages.

 kid restaurant

Develop a Concept

A restaurant concept is a unique idea that defines a restaurant’s atmosphere, style, cuisine, and overall customer experience. It encompasses the look and feel of the restaurant and its menu offerings. In recent years, entrepreneurs have begun to rely heavily on focus groups and market research to develop new concepts tailored to a specific demographic or target market, and kids are no exception.

Developing a concept for a kid-friendly restaurant begins with understanding the needs of potential customers, children, parents, and guardians and finding ways to meet those needs enjoyably and engagingly. A family-oriented concept often features warm, inviting decor, friendly staff members, and interesting menu options to meet guests’ needs.

Design Your Space

When designing a kid-friendly space, it is important to consider safety, comfort, and fun activities that will entertain the kids while they wait for their meals. This means considering accessibility, comfortable seating options, bright colors, fun decorations, and age-appropriate activities. Most importantly, parents should be able to supervise their kids easily while having enough room to move around freely.

These are a few practical ideas that big names in the restaurant industry have implemented to make their establishments more kid-friendly:

  1. Create a kids’ corner or play area within the restaurant, equipped with games, toys, or arcade games, to keep children entertained and engaged while waiting for their food. 
  2. Offer a variety of kid-sized utensils, plates, and cups that children can handle, making their dining experience more enjoyable and comfortable.
  3. Include colorful murals, playful artwork, or themed decorations that capture the imagination and interest of children.

Develop a Kid-Friendly Menu

Before developing a kid-friendly menu, it is important to understand children’s nutritional needs, preferences, and interests. By considering the various dietary restrictions of each age group, menus can be designed to provide healthy yet enjoyable meals for children of all ages.

kids menu

Offer a Variety of Options 

From picky eaters to vegetarians and those with gluten intolerance, there are many variables to consider when designing a healthy restaurant menu. There are various kid-friendly food options available, as well as vegetarian and gluten-free alternatives. 

Examples may include:

  • Mini burgers with a choice of beef, chicken, or veggie patties, served with a side of fries or sweet potato fries
  • Chicken or veggie nuggets with dipping sauces, such as ketchup, honey mustard, or barbecue sauce, served with carrot sticks or apple slices
  • Mac and cheese made with whole wheat pasta and a choice of cheese sauces, such as cheddar, pepper jack, or parmesan
  • Fruit smoothie made with frozen fruit, yogurt, and honey
  • Fresh fruit salad with a drizzle of honey or a dollop of whipped cream

Vegetarian and gluten-free alternatives can include

  • Mini veggie burgers with gluten-free buns and a side of sweet potato fries or carrot sticks
  • Baked sweet potato fries with a side of ketchup or gluten-free ranch dressing
  • Gluten-free and vegetarian pasta dishes, such as spaghetti with tomato sauce or pesto sauce, served with steamed vegetables or a small salad
  • Coconut milk ice cream made with natural sweeteners and served with a side of dark chocolate chips or caramel sauce
  • Flourless chocolate cake made with almond flour and served with a side of fresh berries or a dollop of whipped cream

Use Eye-Catching and Fun Design

Eye-catching and fun designs can make a big difference in kid-friendly spaces with different elements such as graphics, colors, and shapes. The goal is to create a visually appealing and functional environment for families with children. Here are a few tips:

  • Bright, happy colors: Kids love colors, so incorporating bright and bold colors can be a great way to create an engaging atmosphere. Consider using primary colors such as red, yellow, blue, or pastel shades for a softer look.
  • Lively patterns: Incorporating playful patterns such as stripes, polka dots, or chevrons adds visual interest and fun to the space. Consider using these patterns in upholstery, wallpaper, or tablecloths.
  • Fun seating options: Children often find sitting on regular chairs boring, so incorporating unique seating options such as bean bags, floor pillows, or even swings can make the space more inviting.
  • Exciting themes: Creating themed spaces such as a jungle, beach, or space-themed area is a fun way to make the restaurant experience more exciting for children. Consider themed decorations, murals, or special menus matching the theme.

Make it Interactive

With thoughtful planning and creative ideas, restaurants can easily transform their spaces into kid-friendly, exciting, and educational zones for younger guests. Here are some examples:

  • Interactive menus: These can be fun to engage kids and get them excited about their food. Consider offering menus with pictures of the food and interactive elements such as coloring pages or puzzles.
  • Play zone: This can include various activities such as toys, books, puzzles, and even video games.
  • Interactive elements: These can include climbing walls, ball pits, and slides to make the play area more engaging and fun for children.

Consider Nutritional Value

Parents are constantly on the lookout for restaurants with good kid menus. As a restaurant owner, ensuring that the meals served to children are nutritious is key to running a successful kid-friendly restaurant. Nutritional value can be determined by the ingredients used, how the dishes are cooked, and what the dish provides regarding nutrients. 

  • Reduce sugar and salt: Reducing the amount of sugar and salt in menu items is a simple way to improve nutritional value. Consider reducing the amount of sugar in desserts or offering low-sodium options.
  • Include nutritional information: Including nutritional information such as calorie count or macronutrient breakdown on the menu helps parents decide about their child’s meal more comfortably.
  • Offer portion control: Providing smaller portions or meals in half-portions can promote healthier eating habits.

Create a Play Area

Creating a play area or zone is essential to providing an enjoyable dining experience for families. A kid’s zone in restaurants should be set up to encourage children to engage and interact with each other while they wait for their meals, and parents can relax knowing their kids are safe and entertained.

Determine the Space and Design of the Play Area

Determine the available space in the restaurant. The play area’s size, shape, and design should be carefully considered to ensure that it meets the needs of both customers and staff. Hence, consider the size of the area, the number of children it can accommodate, and its proximity to dining tables.

Develop Safety Guidelines

Safety should be a top priority in the play area. First, make sure to assess the area and identify potential risks. Consider all safety aspects, including potential hazards, such as slippery floors or sharp edges, and policies and procedures to prevent accidents or injuries.

Create Entertainment Options for Kids 

Entertainment options such as coloring pages, activity sheets, and puzzle books will give kids something constructive to do while in the restaurant and help keep them occupied until the food arrives. Coloring pages and activity sheets can be tailored to a specific theme or related to the restaurant’s menu items. 

At the same time, puzzle books can provide an added challenge for more advanced children looking for something more engaging than just coloring pages.

Entertainment Options for Kids

Train Your Staff

A well-run restaurant requires employees who understand how to interact with children and maintain an enjoyable atmosphere to improve the restaurant’s service. This is why restaurant owners need to provide regular training sessions to their staff about handling children and providing the best possible service. 

In general, training should include topics such as safety protocols, food safety regulations, handling customer complaints, and creating a comfortable atmosphere for kids. 

Offer Special Events

Special events allow restaurants to showcase what they offer and increase customer loyalty by providing a delightful atmosphere for children and their families. Hosting special events, such as birthday parties, themed nights, or seasonal or holiday celebrations, creates a memorable experience for families and children. 

Themed Events 

Who does not like themed events? Indeed, they are a great way to bring life to a restaurant. Whether it is a superhero or pirate theme, these events create an engaging and fun atmosphere that can help draw in more customers and ensure everyone enjoys themselves. It is also an opportunity for parents to bond with their children, creating memories that will last a lifetime. 

Crafts and Activities 

From coloring books and crayons to educational games and puzzles, plenty of activities can keep the little ones busy while they wait for their food. For instance, face painting allows kids to express their creativity and imagination and turn themselves into their favorite characters with bright colors and creative designs. In addition, balloon animals offer an even more interactive experience for children of all ages.

Games and Contests 

Kids love the thrill of a game and the anticipation of a prize. With games such as puzzles, scavenger hunts, trivia questions, and more, children can enjoy hours of fun while learning something new every time they visit the restaurant. In addition, contests give children an extra incentive to participate in activities by offering prizes or special discounts on future visits.

Live Entertainment 

Live entertainment can instantly transform any restaurant into an enjoyable space, especially if the restaurant caters to children. Whether it is magicians performing impressive tricks, clowns cracking jokes, or musicians playing cheerful tunes, live shows make the restaurant a place children will enjoy and remember for years.

Promote Your Restaurant

Promoting a kid-friendly restaurant is all about connecting with families, and the key is creating an engaging and exciting campaign to reach the target audience. Through targeted advertising campaigns, social media initiatives, and promotional offers, restaurants can reach out to families. It is also important to consider using kid-friendly language in the messaging to ensure it resonates with children.

Necessary Equipment for Kids-Friendly Restaurants

Having the right equipment makes restaurants more welcoming for children and their parents. Hence, it is important to consider the restaurant furniture and other kid-friendly supplies for a restaurant.

High Chairs

High chairs are an essential item in any kid-friendly restaurant. Not only do they save space, but high dining chairs make it easier for parents to relax and focus on their meals. They also provide a safe and comfortable spot for children who may be too small to reach the table or cannot sit comfortably in regular chairs.

Booster Seats

Booster seats provide safety and security to ensure children are properly seated and secure in the restaurant. Aside from safety, these kid-friendly dining chairs also provide a comfortable seating option for children, making them feel at home and welcome in the restaurant.

Kid-Sized Tables and Chairs

Kid-sized furniture creates a safe environment for younger diners, reducing the risk of accidents due to furniture being too high or too low. Furthermore, kid-sized furniture encourages children to socialize with one another, allowing them to develop good social skills and communication abilities.

Soft Seating

Soft seating, such as booths, padded chairs, and banquettes, provides a comfortable seating option for children and their families. They can also be safer for children than hard or sharp-edged seating options, which is especially important in a kid-friendly restaurant.

Childproofing Equipment

Childproofing equipment is a must in any kid-friendly restaurant. Childproofing includes using safety gates, installing locks on cabinets, covering electrical outlets, and keeping small items out of reach. Such measures help to ensure that children do not hurt themselves or cause property damage.

To Wrap Up!

Kid-friendly restaurants are a key part of many family outings and vacations. From creating an inviting family space to offering special menus for young diners, there are many ways to make a restaurant kid-friendly. 

Ultimately, establishing a family-oriented restaurant is all about creating a space where families can spend quality time together while providing the necessary means for children to remain safe and happy. 


Q1: How to market a kid-friendly restaurant?

Reach out to parents and introduce your restaurant’s kid-friendly environment and offerings. Consider investing in creative marketing tactics such as online campaigns, promotional events, and print advertisements to stand out from other restaurants.

Q2: What are the common challenges when running a kid-friendly restaurant?

Some common challenges include creating an inviting atmosphere, catering to parents, being budget aware when designing and decorating the space, ensuring proper health and safety regulations are met, and providing quality food options for kids while keeping prices reasonable.

Q3: How to entertain kids in a restaurant?

There are plenty of creative ways to keep kids engaged. These can include activities such as coloring books, games, or a play zone filled with toys. You can also provide special menu items and meals designed specifically for children. In addition, you can hire entertainment staff to keep the little ones engaged while their parents enjoy their meals.

Q4: How important is the restaurant’s decor in creating a kid-friendly atmosphere?

Creating a kid-friendly atmosphere in a restaurant is beyond just activities and toys. The decor plays an important role in setting the right tone, as it can help to ensure that all guests, particularly children, feel comfortable and at ease. Factors such as appropriate color schemes to furnishing the restaurant with an inviting demeanor can impact the children’s visit.

Q5: How can a restaurant make its menu more appealing to kids?

Restaurants can craft menus that appeal to young diners by understanding what appeals to kids and how to make the dining experience more engaging. Through a creative presentation, thoughtful ingredients, and kid-friendly options, restaurants can create menus that excite kids about eating out.