Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Restaurant Idea

So earlier today I had a great idea (I thought) about making a restaurant that was geared toward kids and their paying parents. I know, vague, right? As long as there are high chairs and chicken nuggets, kids are covered. You would think.

But the thing is, there is more to it! When I think to take the kids out to eat the same four progressive thoughts occur:
1) Let's go somewhere noisy so my excited and rambunctious (loud) kids will blend in with the atmosphere (note: Applebees).
2) Let's go somewhere they can run and play (note: Del Taco and McDonalds).
3) Let's go with a Drive-Thru
4) Let's scrap dinner out and just throw a pizza on the floor and let them, and Holly (puppy), do their thing

NO, my kids are not THAT bad, but they ARE kids and when I am in the company of others that do not have kids or have better behaved kids, all the side glancing and eye rolling can take it's toll. And sometimes I want to eat out, but I don't.

My kids are kids, and some days they are really good in a restaurant and you can find me dining at Bud's Seafood Grille. Other days they are tired, over played, under fed and a little more free spirited -- in which case I will be at Del Taco.

Despite KNOWING all of this, I still envision a different dining out experience. One that allows me to enjoy good food, conversation with my husband, and a good time with the kids -- thereby saving on the $50 dollars I would pay for a babysitter.

THAT'S when I started thinking about this great restaurant idea.  

At first I thought there should be a play structure, similar to those at some fast foods establishments, in the center of nicer indoor restaurant that actually serves you on real dishes and not in cardboard boxes (which is way better than the old school styrofoam). But then I thought - NOPE, won't work -- a restaurant wants to make money and if they have a play structure they won't have table turnaround that will generate the cha-ching; parents might camp out long after their meal is done (I could be guilty).

Then I thought of other types of things - an activity center, a train ride that circles the restaurant, a rock wall inside the restaurant, etc. etc. etc. Sounds good, would photograph well, but - NOPE. That wouldn't work because the parents would be chasing trains, kids would be accidentally taking (or eating) play dough, and dads would knock kids over to get on the rockwall themselves. The whole "nice dinner" would be forgotten and the rest already exists at local places like Micke Grove's  Fun Town or the Children's Museum.

Finally, after I had my kids taken care of and I was sipping my nightly cup of coffee, I landed on an idea!

Kids don't really eat. Let's be real. They nibble. We pay gazillions of dollars on meals (unless it's a kids eat free night) and they nibble. They eat the croutons off your salad, lick a nugget, eat the fries and call it good. Meanwhile, the parents (ME) are trying to still enjoy a nice meal long after the kids are DONE and ready to leave the joint. GAH! CHECK PLEASE! So why not focus on a different activity other than eating, for the kids? So the parents CAN eat? Stay with me on this.

What if.... what if there was a restaurant that had a "storytime/puppetshow" element to it?  Hang on.. think it through with me.

What if there was a restaurant seating area that overlooked an inner circle/seating area that had bench-like seating and a stage (this is raw thinking, let's just keep going and rethink that bench seating later). So, all the parents could go to a table not far from their kids, they could wave and smile.... and EAT while the kids were entertained for a specific amount of time (30 minute intervals?) with a great puppet art/storytime event? Whattya think?

I might pay extra for a meal because in the price was a small storytime fee, too. HECK YA! I can chat, hold hands, sip coffee, not hide the knives (salt, pepper, ketchup, sweetener, specials rack card, cholula) at the table... and my kids can laugh and learn and imagine and pretend... WIN WIN!?! Right??

Maybe we can get the kids meals to go?? It's like taking your kids to a sitter so you can eat? It's amazing? No?

Back to the bench seating -- maybe that should be some kind of interchangeable seating because AFTER HOURS (say 9pm) the place could actually convert the to a live entertainment venue. Acoustic guitarists (I know a great guy named Doc Mompean), trios, singer songwriters, dancers, etc  could perform "in the round" with intimate seating while others sat at the tables around the stage?

Again, it's a raw idea... maybe their are flaws, but let me tell you this: Whoever does come up with a new concept for kid friendly restaurants that don't have value meals and do have nice ambiance for the paying units... they will make a fortune. A FORTUNE!! I think.

Or there's this:

Choo Choo Johnny's in Naperville, Illinois

What are YOUR ideas?