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Secret kids menus

I have the privilege of living in Asheville, NC, a city that is heavy on good food and is also super kid friendly...handy as I have a two year old daughter who is almost always with me when dining out.
My husband and I are both pretty adventurous eaters and will try anything at least once. As a result, we often want to go to new places. Being that my girl is only 2, and picky like toddlers are inclined to be, I always look online at menus before deciding where we're going to eat.
Mysteriously, I've noticed a trend about kids menus...generally, most restaurants have them...and more often than not, they are completely unmentioned until you arrive, with your kid in tow.
I don't get it. I just don't. Anyone who has a young kid is going to be curious as to what they might offer for a small fry. It's worth mentioning, my daughter is not too bad about trying new stuff, this is not a rant about wanting chicken strips available everywhere we go. I'm looking for small, reasonably priced kid sized portions. I could order her the fancy chicken, sure. But she's two, and if she doesn't feel like having her $18 entree, well, it sucks.
I guess what I'm wondering is: if you have a kids menu, why wouldn't you mention it on your website? Is it a deterrent to try and keep people with kids away? I've found that one of the best ways to go to a decent restaurant with a little impatient child is to have a game plan before arriving. When you go to the trouble of searching for menus beforehand and can't find anything that seems like it will work for your family, it makes you question whether you should go at all. Is it just here that this happens? Why wouldn't a restaurant want to advertise their kids menu?

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  1. I think the answer is that while some restaurants thrive on being family oriented, other aren't. The profit margin on a kids menu may not be enough to make up for what a screaming kid could do to the ambience of the restaurant. So unless your concept is to be family friendly, why would you encourage the presence of kids?

    When I went to restaurant school, the instructor, who was a veteran owner and manager of three-star places, was asked by a student about kids in restaurants. His answer was blunt: "Kids don't belong in restaurants. That's what babysitters are for."

    1 Reply
    1. re: nocharge

      When I went to restaurant school, the instructor, who was a veteran owner and manager of three-star places, was asked by a student about kids in restaurants. His answer was blunt: "Kids don't belong in restaurants. That's what babysitters are for."
      _______________

      You had a very wise and sage instructor. Lucky you.

    2. I'd call whatever place you had in mind and ask...save yourself frustration by being proactive

      1. I have to agree with nocharge, and the school instructor.
        Why would a decent restaurant encourage people to bring a toddler who, odds are, going to be a problem or at the very least a distraction to everyone?
        I guess I just don't understand people who think a toddler wants to go to a restaurant. Get a babysitter, take a break, the child will love you for it.

        1. "a little impatient child"

          Your words, not mine. You might have answered your own question.

          1. Ok, well, here's the thing. I get that toddlers aren't always great in restaurants and I certainly take her current mood into account when we are considering going out to eat. The thing is, these are often times, restaurants that are totally casual and kid friendly. And their kids menu is totally unadvertised. For example, we went to lunch today at a place that is essentially a burrito joint. You order at the counter and then go sit at a table and wait for your name to be called. We stood in line, perusing the menu, and only until we got to the cashier to place our order were we told verbally that they have a kids menu available.
            The question here is not "does a toddler belong in a restaurant?" The question is, if you've got options for children, your kitchen clearly knows what they are and how to prepare them, why not make that information available to the people who actually care and have kids.
            Why would it be a secret?

            4 Replies
            1. re: Faraway11

              If a restaurant tries to be child friendly and has the rest of the menu online, I don't see why it couldn't have the kids menu online as well. And many such restaurants do, e.g.,
              http://www.scomas.com/menu/childrens-...

              On the other hand, a restaurant that is not child friendly might not want to advertise a kids menu online for fear of attracting more kids than it would like. But if someone comes in with a kid anyway, why not have a kids menu up your sleeve if it can help keep the kid happy and well behaved,

              1. re: Faraway11

                They would rather you order a full sized $8 burrito and go home with leftovers than have you spend $3 on a kids burrito.
                FYI, Chipotle has a "secret" kids menu item- you can order just one taco. (A regular order has three)

                1. re: Ttrockwood

                  I think you just nailed it. We've been to so many places recently that have a kid menu, but there's no way to find out about it unless someone tells you. I guess I was looking for some insight into why it wouldn't just be available information. And duh, per usual, I'm sure it just comes down to money. Why spend $3 when you could spend $10. Thanks!

                  1. re: Faraway11

                    "there's no way to find out about it unless someone tells you."

                    Sure there is....ASK.

                    My wife and I were never embarrassed to ask f there was a kids menu when we had our little girls dining with us (all those years ago), and in those days there were few restaurant websites. Remember ads in the Yellow Pages?