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Easter is well-known for being an important family time involving meals out, celebrations and creating special memories. But with so much choice when it comes to dining out, what makes one restaurant stand out over another?

How do you entice young diners to want to eat in your establishment? And who is the decision maker when it comes to family dining? It’s important you appeal to children and parents if you want to encourage this lucrative market. To help you capture the minds and mouths of families over the Easter break, we’ve put together some food for thought.

Discover Dalebrook's Children's Range

Do your research on family dining

Firstly, you need to understand the market. For those of you who have children of your own this will be easier as you will know the audience a little better, but if not involve friends and family members. Don’t ever be worried about asking children what they think. To be honest, these are the best viewpoints when it comes to market research as they are so honest and say it how it is. Always test out any marketing materials in advance and get feedback from young minds.

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This playful tugboat doubles as a toy before dinner, then separates into a plate, a bowl, and a cup when its time to eat. Junior will be totally on board. By KitchenCraft.

Involve children in the experience

A few years ago, research was carried out by Digital Blonde where a group of young people were taken around UK restaurant chains. It was revealed that children craved food experiences throughout the meal and wanted more than a standard activity sheet. The children wanted to be able to see what the chefs were doing in the kitchen, have tasters, enter competitions and learn about new foods during the mealtime. How can you build this into your dining experience?

Is your menu attracting young people?

Look at your menu. What age of child does it appeal to? Are you differentiating between older and younger kids? Having a menu that looks too young and features just toddlers in photography will be off-putting to a ten-year-old. Whilst those which only include older children may concern parents that their young child’s needs may not be catered for. Some restaurants overcome this by having different menus for those aged seven and under, and an older version for those over eight. Remember that all children are different and not everyone conforms to stereotypes so be prepared to be flexible.

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BPA Free, dishwasher safe, and perfect for every day use, the Monster collection is the perfect addition for every family! Melamine & Plastic by Dalebrook.

Promote activity on social media

Whilst you are unable to market to children via social media you can target parents who will be looking for places to eat out over the school holiday. One of the most successful powers of persuasion is ‘liking’. This means people want to see people like them in marketing activity as we like people who are similar to ourselves. So, include children of all ages and a mixture of mums and dads in your photography and use the Facebook advertising platform to target parents within your local area. In the ad targeting, you can define parents with children of different ages so it’s really focused advertising.

Make it clear you encourage children to eat with you

Do you remember Jamie Oliver offering free meals to children in half term? This was a strong stance from Jamie making it clear this was a market he wanted to see in his restaurants. Whilst we aren’t saying you need to offer free meals it is important you make it clear in your messaging that you welcome children. Special offers and family discounts is an effective way of doing this.

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Junior D by Dalebrook is sure to bring a new element of fun and interactivity to every single meal.

Think about your product offering

Do you have separate products for children? Let’s be honest, you don’t want to bring out the most expensive crockery in the business and hand it to a three-year-old. This will put parents on edge and won’t appeal to young people either. Children like to be made to feel special so offer them something a little different when serving food. We love Dalebrook’s Children’s range which aims to make eating more fun for kids.

It is also key that your actual food offering appeals to both parents and children. With so much research on the importance of healthy eating, parents are opting for healthier options, but children want it to be served in a way that looks both appetising and appealing. Discover more of the ways this can be done in our ‘New Kids on the Block’ article.

Train your staff to be approachable

One of the most important elements of family dining is making sure staff speak to children appropriately. Whilst this will come naturally to many of your staff, it won’t to them all, so make sure they are appropriately trained. Some children prefer to order their own menu choices as this makes them feel grown-up. Don’t just assume you should talk to the parents, try and gauge the situation. Ask children questions and offer activities for them to get involved throughout the meal.

The most important thing to remember is if children are relaxed and happy when eating out it will be a much more enjoyable experience for parents and other adults, who are ultimately the ones footing the bill and deciding whether to return. How do you appeal to families? Let us know by tweeting @bunzllockhart.


Lockhart Catering on 26 March 2018 12:00 AM

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