Why aren’t more restaurants child friendly? I asked myself this question after a visit to Ask Italian, near Tower Bridge.
The Ask Italian chain does everything to try and help parents who have lively and easily bored small children in tow. It provides colouring pens and spot the difference pictures, small knives and forks, and highchairs and baby changing facilities. It even serves children’s meals first and on cold plates, so they don’t get their fingers burned.
As well as this, the waiting staff at Ask are always very tuned in to the needs and fickleness of children. They don’t freak out when a child starts banging the salt cellar on the table or spills orange juice on the floor.
Yet this kind of focus on the needs of children and families is still very much the exception rather than the rule in many restaurants I’ve visited. Given that, at least during the day, there’s a good chance that families as much as couples or groups are going to be coming through the door, you would have thought owners and managers would have cottoned on. It’s pretty basic.
In contrast, in countries such as Spain or Italy you generally find restaurants are far more geared up to children.
I suspect that the reason that so many restaurants don’t adapt to children is that they don’t really want them there. Either that or they are too blinkered or lazy to do anything to make the experience more enjoyable for them, and their parents.
Yet, as McDonald’s discovered a long time ago, there’s money to be made in being child friendly. If you make yourself more friendly to children, then you make yourself more friendly to their parents.