Meltdown Averted: How the Pros Help Prevent Your Kid’s Restaurant Tantrums

kid's restaurant tantrums

Restaurant staffers work overtime to create a warm, welcoming environment. But sometimes minors can cause them major headaches, and threaten to derail the establishment’s carefully crafted dining experience. By thinking quickly and being proactive, staffers can prevent your kid’s restaurant tantrums and make sure everyone goes home happy.

The Picky Eater

Walking through the dining room of Betony in New York City one evening, executive chef Bryce Shuman noticed something awry. A couple was dining with their six-year-old son, who clearly wasn’t enjoying himself. The youngster hadn’t touched the food on his plate, wore a grumpy expression, and was distractedly playing with his iPad. His dissatisfaction was impeding his parents’ ability to have a good time and enjoy their meal. So Shuman decided to try to turn around their experience. He sent a staffer out to the nearest grocery store to buy a bottle of ketchup and frozen curly fries. When they brought out the nicely plated treat soon afterwards, the kid’s face lit up and he dove in. The parents looked equally pleased. “It was a good moment,” says Shuman. “So much of what we do goes beyond simply serving food and wine; it’s about making people feel great. So anything I can do to make that happen, I’ll do it.”

The Young & The Restless

Trummer’s on Main in Clifton, Virginia is used to hosting little diners, who usually don’t require much extra attention. But a few years ago, co-owner Victoria Trummer noticed a brother and sister – aged approximately five- and seven-years-old – were getting antsy during dinner and were itching to bolt. They had already finished their meal, but their parents’ entrees hadn’t arrived yet, so leaving wasn’t an option. The usual iPhone videos hadn’t worked as a diversion, so Trummer decided to come up with a better distraction. She and the kitchen crew assembled DIY sundae platter featuring scoops of vanilla and popcorn ice cream, candy, chocolate pecans, and housemade butterscotch. “The kids and the parents were elated,” she says. “The energy at the table and the dining room changed dramatically.” The experience help inspire the restaurant’s Petit Gourmand program, a high-end tasting menu for children that culminates with a make your own sundae that often makes the adults at the table jealous.

The Bored Ones

There’s an old saying, “When the mind wanders, happiness also strays.” This is certainly true with children in restaurants. Boredom can transform into a hissy fit in five seconds flat. That’s why Grace Abi-Najm Shea, co-owner of the Washington, D.C. area Lebanese Taverna restaurants is proactive in engaging children. If the smaller members of a party appear to need amusement, she uses a variety of techniques. Shea might take them into the kitchen to help make the eatery’s signature puffy pita bread. Another tactic is to bring them around the restaurant and introduce them to other guests, especially those with kids. If the children are a little older, she lets them play host and give guests their menus when they sit down. “The customers love it and the kids feel so important,” says Shea. “And the parents get a break, which is always nice.”Continue Reading

The Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Top Summer Travel Destinations in America 2016

As families hit the road and take to the skies on summer travels, we are pleased to unveil the Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Top Summer Travel Destinations in America.

Featuring restaurants beloved by locals and visitors alike, the complete list highlights restaurants in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., including Little Goat in Chicago, M Street Kitchen in Santa Monica, and Le Diplomate in Washington, D.C. A to-dine list for families who love to explore the cities they visit through restaurants, this collection of eateries represents those that provide a welcoming atmosphere for children and their families in addition to food that pleases all palates. A multitude of cuisines are represented on the lists, including barbecue, Brazilian, dim sum, French, Japanese, seafood, and, naturally, perennial family favorite, Italian.

 

The Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Top Summer Travel Destinations in America 2016 list is generated from more than 1.4 million restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners between June 1, 2015, and May 31, 2016. All restaurants with a minimum “overall” score and number of qualifying reviews were included for consideration. Qualifying restaurants were then sorted according to a score calculated from each restaurant’s average rating in the “kid friendly” category. Based on this methodology, the following restaurants, listed in alphabetical order, comprise the Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Top Summer Travel Destinations in America 2016, according to OpenTable diners. The complete list may also be viewed at http://www.opentable.com/m/best-kid-friendly-restaurants/.

CHICAGO
Chicago q
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse
Little Goat
Maggiano’s
Mon Ami Gabi
Quartino
RJ Grunt’s
Stella Barra Pizzeria
Weber Grill
Wildfire

LOS ANGELES
BenihanaEncino, Ontario, Puente Hills, Santa Anita, Torrance
Black Angus Steakhouse-Torrance
Buca di Beppo-Claremont
Duke’s Malibu
Enterprise Fish Co.-Santa Monica
Farmshop LA
Gus’s BBQ
M Street Kitchen
Maggiano’sFarmers Market + Woodland Hills
North Italia-El Segundo
Paradise Cove Beach Café
Queen Mary Champagne Sunday Brunch

NEW YORK
Blue Smoke
Carmine’s44th Street + 91st Street
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que-Harlem
Landmarc at the Time Warner Center
Max Brenner-Union Square
NINJA NEW YORK
The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel
Rock Center Café
Sarabeth’s TriBeCa
Sugar Factory-Meatpacking District
Tony Di NapoliMidtown + UES
Virgil’s Real BBQContinue Reading

Dining with Your Mother-in-Law: Mother’s Day Etiquette Tips for Diners from Expert Lizzie Post

Depending on geography — and whether or not you hit the awesome mother-in-law jackpot, Mother’s Day can fill some people with a bit of anxiety. The vast majority of special requests associated with OpenTable restaurant reservations are filled with warm notes asking for a flower or some other gesture or accommodation for “my lovely mother-in-law.” However, there are more than a few of you who seem to be anticipating the day with the same zeal one might reserve for a root canal. A few of the standouts:

“It’s my first Mother’s Day with my new mother-in-law, so I’m trying to impress her.”

“Wife, mother, and mother-in-law will be there. Please help me keep them happy.”

“Have a stiff drink waiting for me because I am going to be with my mother and mother-in-law.”

“Bringing my mother and mother-in-law in for Mother’s Day – yes, I’m a saint!”

We checked in with expert Lizzie Post, cohost of the “Awesome Etiquette” podcast on American Public Media, for Mother’s Day etiquette tips for diners, so you’ll be ready to navigate even the thorniest of situations that could arise on May 10th.

Seat yourself strategically. As a first line of defense against any drama, Post says, “We always suggest strategic seating. Remember, this is your mother-in-law; this is your husband or your wife’s parent, so having them sit next to each other is a perfectly fine way not just to buffer it, but to allow them to have some time close to each other that, depending on where you live, they might not get very often.”

Shrug off any criticism toward your parenting skills, but… If your kids need distractions to make it through the dining experience and that doesn’t sit well with your mother-in-law, don’t take it personally — but do take it in. Post notes, “When I am out to dinner with a friend and their child comes along, it is nice to have those moments when their kid is focused on something else and we can chat. But, I am also an etiquette expert, and I’m going to come down hard on the side of you need to raise your kids in a way that you spend time at home preparing them for what going out to dinner is like. I do not expect a two-year-old to sit through an entire meal for an hour and a half, but I would expect an eight year old to get through that. So, you have to think developmentally.” Also, consider going old school when designing distractions. “Oftentimes what you’re dealing with when you get judgment from a grandparent is the child’s use of a cell phone. Your parents did the exact same thing — except that it was coloring books and small toys. So, I would suggest bringing something along that isn’t quite so criticism friendly from people of that generation. Try a small coloring book, instead,” she says.

Come prepared with polite conversation. In a perfect world, all of our dining experiences would be focused on the delicious food and warm hospitality, but sometimes conversations can veer to sensitive or unsavory topics. Post reveals, “We had people start talking at a lunch the other day about horrible deaths, and I lost my appetite over it. I thought, ‘This is ridiculous.'” When there was a break in conversation, Post seized the opportunity to steer things in a more lighthearted (and appetizing) direction. She says, “I just said, ‘Well, this is a totally different subject, but I’d love to hear about…,’ and I picked something that was a more upbeat conversation topic and redirected things that way – and I had back-up questions ready to go.” If it really becomes problematic and the subject matter isn’t appropriate for the kids at the table, she says, “It’s okay to say, ‘Hey, I’m just getting a little uncomfortable and I’d love to talk about something else.’ and then have something else to go to. You can say, ‘I know you and James just saw a new movie. Why don’t you tell us about it?'”

Be proactive, but not too prodding. If you observe that your mother-in-law has an issue with an order or seating during the meal, try to gently resolve the situation – emphasis on the gently. “You have to poke and prod a little bit. Ask if she’d like a different plate or table. And always say, ‘Hey, restaurants are really keen on getting you what you, want so it’s going to be no trouble to them to get you something better and it’s totally fine. What we care about is that you have something you enjoy.’” If she resists and says no, it’s best to just drop the issue. “If you force it upon her, that might get even more uncomfortable.”Continue Reading

Mother’s Day Restaurant Deals: 2015 Splurges + Steals

Mother’s Day 2015 is less than a week away. The great news is that there’s still time to find the perfect table to celebrate the special mom in your life. In fact, 50% of diners book their Mother’s Day reservations a week out — and 25% do so the day before. We’ve gathered Mother’s Day restaurant deals to help you pick a place that’s right for your family, from splurges to steals — and something a little different. Get inspired and start planning Mother’s Day today!

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ATLANTA

* A bit more: One Midtown Kitchen can help you say it with flowers. On your reservation, indicate that you’d like to surprise mom with a fresh floral arrangement and it will be ready and waiting upon arrival for $60.
* A bit less: Danntana’s Surf and Turf is picking up mom’s meal. Her entree is free if you purchase another menu item at regular price.
* A bit different: Le Vigne at Montaluce Winery invites you to spend a day in the mountains with mom. Enjoy handcrafted wine and live music on the patio.

BOSTON

* A bit more: Café Fleuri is serving fabulous food and a free mimosa set to live jazz, plus a face painter and balloon artist to entertain the wee ones at $95 per adult and $51 per children 5-12 years old.
* A bit less: Club Café offers their award-winning buffet, which includes carved roasts and lobster mac n cheese at just $23.50 for adults and $8.95 for children under 12.
* A bit different: Odyssey Cruises beckons you to set sail with mom for brunch. She’ll receive a flower, and a complimentary Champagne or mimosa is available for all diners, 21 and over. There’s juice, goodie bags, and entertainment for the kids, plus an ice cream sundae bar.

CHICAGO

* A bit more: NoMI is putting on a a luxurious culinary affair against a backdrop of stunning Michigan avenue views. Dine on a diverse range of specially curated chef stations for $135 per person.
* A bit less: Red Door is serving three courses for a wallet-friendly $25 — plus, guests can purchase a fun flower arrangement for mom for an additional $25.
* A bit different: Brass Monkey Brasserie is throwing a Mother’s Day Funky Brunch (“It’s like Tom Jones and Julia Child threw a party at Warren Beatty’s pad.”). Tell mom to bust out her bell bottoms for this seven-course, 1970s-inspired menu that is $40 for adults and $20 for kids under 12.

DENVER

* A bit more: Wine Experience Café and World Cellar invites you to raise a glass to mom on Mother’s Day with a white tablecloth four-course brunch at $59 for adults and $20 for children.
* A bit less: The Crown Social is putting on a gourmet brunch buffet for $20 per person with a “bottomless drink” menu, featuring a new bottomless Bloody Mary bar (for just $12 or $30 for both brunch and the bar).
* A bit different: Kachina Southwestern Grill wants you to heed the call of the wild — the wild west, that is. They’re preparing a family-style, wild west brunch with green chile deviled eggs, a chuck wagon egg bake, and chocolate chile beignets for $27 per person. Bonus: kids ages 8 and under eat free.

LOS ANGELES

* A bit more: Mr. C Beverly Hills is ready to help you treat your mom to a poolside Venetian brunch buffet featuring Cipriani pastas, waffles, custom frittatas, live music, and more! Plus, moms receive a complimentary Bellini and a flower, for $99 for adults and $45 for 5-12 year olds.
* A bit less: Sage-A Plant Based Bistro is great for going green while saving some green. A special brunch buffet and bottomless mimosas are just $25 per person.
* A bit different: smoke.oil.salt. can help you take mom on an armchair trip to Spain with their paella feast. Diners can choose from traditional paella with rabbit and pork, seafood paella with giant prawns, or vegetarian paella for two at $49 per person, and free Cava for all mothers.

MIAMI

* A bit more: StripSteak is rolling out the red carpet for moms, with a luxe brunch featuring their signature “fizzy bellboy” cocktail, sumptuous seafood carts, delectable entrees, family-style sides, and lavish desserts at $68 per person.
* A bit less: 7 Pecados lets you sip while you save with a three-course $30 per person prix-fixe menu that includes a bottle of sparkling wine per table. Pick from three delicious options of appetizer, main course, and dessert, including salad, baked brie, filet mignon, fish, and more.
* A bit different: City Hall wants you to put your hands together for a Gospel brunch starring Maryel Epps. Choose from a la carte brunch dishes priced from $10-$20, along with mimosas, Bloody Marys, and guava mojitos.

MINNEAPOLISContinue Reading