The Key to Attracting More Families

May 2019

It might be hard to believe that most millennials are all grown up. Once in the spotlight as the youngest generation, almost half of them now have children of their own. Nearly 90% of these families consider kid friendliness to be a major factor in deciding where to eat. When dining away from home, millennial parents seek high quality, variety and value. Operators can inspire repeat traffic by shifting their focus to younger customers, ultimately attracting their parents.

Many millennials find that once they have children, healthy options become more of a priority. In particular, demand for better-for-you choices on kids’ menus is rising, coinciding with millennial preferences for organic products and foods that are described as fresh, real or natural. Labeling kids’ meals with callouts of natural or real ingredients or no artificial flavoring makes it easier for parents to find options they feel good about ordering for their kids. Turkey is an ingredient that can reassure patrons concerned about nutrition, as it’s low in calories and fat while still high in protein.

In addition to a healthy kids’ menu, variety is a draw for families. More than 80% of consumers say that being able to select from a wide range of options is important. Millennial parents want unique meal choices, and as a result, today’s young diners are exposed to greater variety than previous generations were. North Carolina-based steak and seafood chain Firebirds Wood Fired Grill plays on this by featuring adult-inspired kids’ meals, such as fish tacos that include avocado, alongside chicken fingers and other classic fare. This Turkey & Cheese Panini offers a more sophisticated take on a grilled cheese sandwich and can add variety to any kids’ menu.

International flavors are another way to catch the attention of parents, as 44% of millennials are looking for more ethnic foods and beverages at restaurants. Global cuisines also help children develop more refined tastes. For young, picky eaters who may be reluctant to try unrecognizable dishes, tweaking kid favorites to feature international influences is a simple solution. Recipes such as this Queso Mac & Cheese and Turkey Banh Mi are more adventurous but still familiar versions of foods kids love.

Beyond the menu, there are several ways for restaurant operators to engage all guests. In an age when delivery provides the convenience that parents seek, interactive entertainment can entice them to enjoy some fun time away from home. In restaurants with less space, digital technology can be used to engage young diners. Weekly family nights, promotions that focus on kids and discounted meals provide even more reasons to visit an establishment.

Being family friendly also extends to amenities. At a minimum, having booster seats, high chairs and baby changing stations in restrooms for all genders makes a venue functional for families. Maintaining low TV and music volumes and providing child-size silverware also create an attractive environment. To really impress parents, operators can supply extra diapers and baby wipes and install automatic hand dryers to limit exposure to germs, showing that they understand their guests’ specific needs.

How does your restaurant cater to families? Share your ideas with us on Facebook or LinkedIn. To stay up to date with the latest foodservice trends, visit our Resource Center.


Top tips for making your restaurant appealing to families, Restaurant Business, February 2019.

Pesch, Krystal. Satisfy Your Bottom Line with Millennial Parent Loyalty, Modern Restaurant Management, March 2019.

How to update the kids’ menu with current foodservice trends, Restaurant Business, February 2019.

Fantozzi, Joanna. How to win over Millennials? Cater to their kids, Nation’s Restaurant News, March 2019.

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