10 Ways to Secure Good Service When Dining Out with the Kids

Introducing your children to the world of restaurant dining can be an exciting and rewarding experience for everyone involved, or it can be an absolute nightmare. From servers and staff that give less than stellar service the moment they see a child at the table to the glares of fellow kid-free diners, it isn’t always easy to enjoy a family meal out on the town.

restaurantStill, there are a few ways that you can ensure great service when you’re out with the kids, even if you can’t do much about the resentment of unfriendly table-neighbors.

  1. Keep Kids in Their Seats – When a server approaches your table and is forced to dodge your child as she darts around the dining room, it’s difficult to blame them for being a bit less welcoming to your family than they are with their seated, decorous guests. Make sure that kids understand your expectations while you’re in the restaurant, and that staying in their seats is one of them.
  2. Remember That Condiments Aren’t Finger Paints – Kids tend to be a bit messier than grownups at the dinner table, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make at least a cursory effort to clean up after them. Realizing that she’ll be forced to spend several minutes cleaning up the mess left behind by your children before she can turn over your table probably won’t make your server thrilled to see you.
  3. Be Polite to Your Server – It should go without saying, but a bit of politeness goes a long way. When you approach restaurant wait staff with an attitude that’s defensive right off the bat because you assume that they’re unhappy to see children at the table, you will probably lower the quality of service you’re given.
  4. Encourage Kids to Use Good Manners – Shouting, throwing food and completely refusing to use good manners of any kind won’t endear your children to the staff or other diners, nor will it create an enjoyable experience for you. Tables with well-behaved children will almost always get better service than those that servers dread dealing with.
  5. Choose Restaurants Appropriately – Kid-friendly dining doesn’t have to mean that you’re eating pizza while robots in animal costumes put on a show, but the swankiest five-star restaurant in town may not be the best choice for your little ones. Put some thought into choosing the right restaurant, and consider calling ahead to ask about the level of kid-friendliness.
  6. Bring Clean, Quiet Diversions – Coloring or activity books, small toys or even handheld video games with the sound turned down can provide just the diversion your children need to stay calm and quiet while they’re waiting for the food to come to the table. Make sure that you’re prepared before you leave the house so that your restless child doesn’t dash through the dining room and cause a scene that affects the quality of service you receive.
  7. Practice Acceptable Restaurant Behavior at Home – Kids can’t be expected to behave perfectly the very first time they visit a restaurant if they’ve had no previous training on the subject. Before you start taking your pint-sized gourmands to restaurants, practice acceptable behavior at the family dinner table and talk about why manners are so important, especially in public.
  8. Check Online Reviews – A restaurant may claim to be kid-friendly, but you’re more likely to get an objective observation regarding just how welcoming they are to younger diners by checking reviews online. High concentrations of negative reviews are strong indicators that the service may not be top-notch, especially if you have little ones in tow.
  9. Become a Regular – Managers and servers learn to spot regular customers, to learn their likes and dislikes and to anticipate their needs. When you find a spot your family enjoys, visiting frequently enough to qualify as a regular can ensure that you get great service every time.
  10. Let Your Little Ones Charm the Staff – Encouraging your children to behave and insisting that they use good table manners doesn’t mean that you have to adhere to the Victorian standard of children that are seen, but not heard. Let your kids do their magic, charming your server with their funny quips and cuteness!

When other patrons realize that your children are well-behaved and unlikely to cause a scene that spoils their dining experience, you may be surprised at how quickly they change their unhappy tunes. Ignoring those that insist on being unpleasant can help to ensure that your dining experience is still a great one, despite their poor attitudes.

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