My daughter just slung my handbag over her shoulder and announced that she is headed to dinner at our favorite neighborhood restaurant to see Anne Marie.
(Side note: my daughter is not even close to legal driving age). Anne Marie is our favorite server. Restaurants, take note: much like their early awareness of branding and logos, even toddlers can recognize–and appreciate–friendly service. For many families, servers like Anne Marie are a driving force behind frequency and brand loyalty.
Restaurants, here are five ways to win big when serving the youngest guests:
- Engage with our kids: High fives go a long way, and so does addressing our kiddos by name. Counter service concepts that give parties a table number may offer this to the child to carry to the table.
- Give kids a boost: Maintain a good supply of high chairs and booster seats, and ensure the buckles on the highchairs are functioning.
- Serve our kids first: Many parents automatically order the kids’ meals when we place the beverage order, but some do not—especially when dining at a new restaurant for the first time. The best servers ask parents if we would like to order the kids’ meals first.
- Consider the dipping sauces: Kids do love to dip their food, but they also love to dip their sleeves. A small plate with a few sauce containers lets the parents control the finger painting.
- Give us your insider tips: Anne Marie once asked me (when I ordered a side of fruit) if my daughter preferred one type of fruit over the others in the medley. My daughter is an equal opportunity produce fan, but this was a really nice touch—as some kiddos may just want to go all in on one type of fruit.
When restaurants win our kids over, it trickles up to the parents. We request certain restaurants, and certain servers, over and over. We bring our friends, our parents, and shout our praise from the rooftops (or drop a tip on the restaurant’s Yelp page). We’re the ones who wave the manager over for a GOOD reason. This is beyond service with a smile: this is service with style.
Meg Ross is a Business Development Director, writer, and mom.