Restaurants will and can change, it is just the choice that needs to be driven by the parent; the kids menu taken seriously!
This article is a fragment out of the book ‘A hotelier’s mind, setting strategy for the future’ by Jeroen Gulickx, to be published summer 2016. http://www.jeroengulickx.com/the-book/
Innovation and creativity are words often used within the hospitality industry, key words I would say for sure, and there is definitely plenty of space for opportunity within every department of our beloved industry. I work with two amazing guys, a Dutchman, Koen Crommentuijn and a Brit, Carl Mills, both based in Holland. They are genius, in understanding the need of children of all ages. There original idea for their company was to create toys, that are attractive, fun, promote exercise and pedagogy. By creating toys they leave the use to the imagination of the kids. Since we met we have created Kid’s clubs in all kinds of parts of the world. Not the usual kid’s club, with a few plastic toys, some crayons, a retired playstation and a little splashing area. Instead the real stuff, that motivates children to stay, to play, to learn, exercise and understand food & beverage. I have learned a great deal about the kid’s behavior as well as the parent’s behavior, those who are looking for a time of silence at the pool with a good book, or during a romantic dinner, or a sundowner on the terrace.
The typical kid’s menu, do I even have to describe it? Is it the parent who decides, or is it the child? I wonder if it is the parent who chooses the easy way out, by not questioning the intensely boring offering, or is the child who does not know any better then to suit the standard. What the guys have taught me is that children are creative, open, eager to try and learn, in no matter what circumstance or environment.
So why offer them macaroni cheese, a hamburger and fries and spaghetti bolognese or a pizza slize? I have always thought it was wrong, but now I am convinced. At a table setting, surely the parent wants to get the kids involved, wants them to experience and learn about flavors, meals, and above all cultures. Sure it depends on the restaurant, and every parent has a need for some adult time during dinner, so we welcome the Ipad’s in full glory.
Times are changing, opportunities are created and yet we leave the kid’s menu exactly where it was since I was born. Sure, when you would have asked me when I was 7, what do you want to eat? Well there we go. But being a adult now, and you get asked do you want a Volvo or a BMW, what happens to all the other brands? Perhaps I have other needs, but the choice is not given to me, let alone the education about the other brands. And the Volvo, well that would be the hamburger and fries, and the BMW the spaghetti. Eventually kids will ask, dad what is on your plate? Why not start the process earlier, get them involved, let them be a part of the atmosphere, challenge them, let the server explain a few dishes, like where and who caught the fish that morning, or invite them over to the kitchen to show them where the food is prepared. The kid’s clubs that the Dutch team are developing, don’t just offer lunch to the kids, they invite them to cook, in a real kitchen, sure in simple ways, but they get explained where the produce is coming from, and they will eat whatever they create, they made it themselves, they are proud, and can tell mum and dad, that they did, and that cooked in a real Restaurant kitchen, with people in weird white clothes.
I have not even touched on healthy foods, delivering vitamins and minerals needed for the health and cognitive ability for the child. I don’t need to write in detail about this need, as you can read about that every day, in every newspaper, as we are fighting obesity and illnesses related to bad nutrition.
Back to the restaurant menu, ever tried small tapas style course for kids, in line with your restaurant philosophy and theme. The chef will be the proudest person to create something to those who form our future. A starter, a main and a desert, will keep them entertained longer, it will educate them, it will create feeling in a pedagogical manner, pleasurable for both the parent and the child, and ok, after giving them that experience, feel free to take out the Ipad.
Jeroen Gulickx is originally from Holland, where he obtained two business degrees. Later in life he also certified as black belt in Six Sigma.
He is Managing Director of Mocinno International, a hospitality consulting company that started in 2006, focused on delivering incremental revenues for hotels, spa’s and hotel suppliers. Jeroen is well travelled and has extensive experience in the luxury travel segment. The main capabilities vary from streamlining cost and operational models, strategy, yielding, business development, and marketing. Mocinno International works with a network of highly experienced, energetic and yet innovative people, based in key locations.
Jeroen leads Mocinno originated projects and companies within the luxury spa and travel industry.
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