Five engagement tips for kids at your restaurant

By Jasmine Kafka

Going out for dinner with the family is a treat—especially for the kids! How your servers interact with these young guests can make or break whether they return.

After 15 years studying, testing and producing kids’ engagement activities, we’ve learned a thing or two on encouraging repeat patronage, especially for families with kids. Here are our top five ways to engage kids in your restaurant:

  1. Welcome the entire family to the restaurant, not just the adults. Going out for a meal is an exciting adventure for kids, and making eye contact and speaking directly to your youngest customers will help establish a rapport for the rest of their stay.
  2. Acknowledge special toys or stuffed animals as guests of the child.
  3. When seating the family, walk at the pace of the kids. This makes the kids feel included and is appreciated by parents.
  4. Bring the kids’ meals to the table first. This allows parents to help them get settled with cutting food and applying condiments so they can then enjoy their own meals hot when they come to the table!
  5. Keep the conversation going! Ask the kids how their meals were, and compliment them on any drawings that they’ve done.

Tip: Remember that games, activities and toys at the table are a special treat! Approach the presentation of your kids’ program as such. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with some program specifics so that you can chat about them later. For example: “You found all of the words in the word search! Nice! I had trouble with ‘hamburger’ myself.”

When children feel seen, acknowledged and valued, they are often calmer and more engaged. These memories of inclusion create an immeasurable lasting impression, leading to happy customers and return visits.

About the author:

Jasmine Kafka is Manager of Marketing Communications and Account Services at Kidzsmart, a kids and family marketing firm based in Vancouver, B.C. Their focus is on increasing family market ROI for their clients by developing revenue-driving and loyalty-inducing kids and family experiences. Through the use of children’s illustrations, storytelling, character development and fun participation games, Kidzsmart develops brand relationships that last.