According to Restaurant DemandTracker, a recent survey of restaurant customers in the United States, households with younger kids are much more likely to seek out restaurants with kid-friendly menus and many of those consumers are looking for healthier food items on the menu for their families. While not every restaurant occasion involves children, it’s important to understand what parents are looking for and which restaurants have the best image in the eyes of parents. Families with children under age 18 spend more than $60 per week on restaurants compared to average spending among all restaurant goers of $50 per week, so families represent a key target segment for most restaurant segments.
Households with younger children are especially likely to value a kid-friendly menu and slightly more likely to value healthy menu choices than households with older children. Among households with kids under age 12, 39 percent of them say that a kid-friendly menu is always important when choosing a restaurant, and another 36 percent say that it is important most of the time. Among these households with young children, 25 percent of them say a restaurant having a menu that includes some healthy food choices is always important, and another 37 percent say it is important most of the time. Parents of kids who are ages 12 to 17 also look for kid-friendly menus much of the time—24 percent say it’s important all of the time and another 27 percent say most of the time—and healthy food options, with 22 percent saying that is always important and 38 percent saying that’s important most of the time.
When rating casual-dining and family-dining brands among consumers who have children under age 18 and who are aware of each restaurant, Denny's ranks #1 in terms of the most people thinking it has a kid-friendly menu (60 percent) , followed by IHOP (51 percent), Steak n’ Shake (45 percent), Applebee’s (43 percent), and Big Boy (42 percent). The casual and family-dining restaurant brands that score best in terms of offering at least some “healthy food choices” among consumers with children under age 18 are Bonefish Grill (43 percent), and Applebee’s, Mimi’s Café, and Olive Garden tied with 40 percent each. While Bonefish Grill scored the highest on healthy menu options, only 10 percent of people with kids under age 18 believe it has a kid-friendly menu, leaving Applebee’s the only brand in the segment that scores in the top five for both kid-friendly and offering healthy choices on the menu.
“Families with kids have many criteria to satisfy when they choose a restaurant,” says David Decker, president, Consumer Edge Insight. “Those that are looking for a casual or family-dining restaurant that is both kid-friendly and offers healthier menu items should consider going to Applebee’s. Applebee’s joining the Kids LiveWell program earlier this year may be contributing to this perception.”