When 110 Grill set out to identify how it could attract more guests to its Rochester, New Hampshire, location, plenty of promotional opportunities seemed like potential fits. But with so many families and schools in the area, the nine-unit upscale-casual brand decided on a bold, family-forward approach: a kids-eat-free promotion.
The promotion comes with no stipulations other than that each child would be offered a free meal with the purchase of an adult entrée. 110 Grill ran the promotion throughout August as a test, and served more than 200 meals per week.
110 Grill marketing director Alicia Puputti says the restaurant launched the promotion in a Facebook post that was shared so much it ended up with more than 30,000 views, all without any additional promotion. “Sales went up a few thousand dollars per week,” she says. “There have definitely been more guests coming in, and compared to our other locations, we’ve seen far more families with children come.”
Several major chains offer kids-eat-free promotions, limited either to specific days of the week or franchise locations. For example, at Kids’ Night in participating Red Robin locations, kids get a free meal and sundae with the purchase of an adult entrée, in addition to tabletop games.
And the promotions are for good reason; according to the National Restaurant Association, about 60 percent of consumers say they evaluate a restaurant’s family or child friendliness when choosing where to dine.
At 110 Grill, kids’ meal offerings include items like cheeseburgers, pasta, and quesadillas that come with a choice of potato or fruit and a scoop of ice cream. Adult entrées include items like chimichurri steak, Cuban swordfish, and pulled-pork mac ‘n’ cheese.
Set in an atmosphere with an open kitchen and outdoor patios with fire pits, the restaurant offers adults a setting in which they can relax while the “Little Grillers” menu contains tic tac toe, a word search, and a coloring-book section.
Kids eat free isn’t the only promotion 110 Grill has for guests; the restaurant also discounts appetizers and offers drink specials during a 3–6 p.m. happy hour Monday through Thursday. The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner throughout the entire week.
“We wanted to try something different, something that our competitors typically do not do,” says 110 Grill COO Ryan Dion. “We wanted it to be [offered] all the time to see what the response would be, and it’s been absolutely fantastic.” Guests have left positive feedback for the restaurant and sent emails to the company thanking it for the promotion.
While the promotion has been a success for the restaurant, Dion says 110 Grill doesn’t have plans to roll it out to other locations or to extend it past the test phase yet. Other 110 Grill locations include seven restaurants in Massachusetts and a location in Nashua, New Hampshire. “We’re always thinking about new ideas, but there are certain markets where we do more unique sales-building initiatives,” Dion says.