More on Kids' Dining

Last month's issue included an article on Kid-Friendly Dining and included coverage of new kids' menus at Chili's, Red Lobster and Ritz-Carlton Hotels. Based upon recent announcements, it appears obesity concerns are spearheading major changes to kids' menus throughout the restaurant industry. Here are some of the latest announcements concerning kids' menus.

  • Applebee's plans to offer a grilled chicken sandwich and pasta with marinara sauce as two new main courses for children, with new side dishes of steamed broccoli, carrots and celery with ranch dressing, and applesauce.
  • Denny's is adding new side dishes including grapes, applesauce, cucumber slices, vegetable of the day, mashed potatoes and green salad. Denny's found in tests with 50,000 children that kids chose one of the new items rather than French fries 50% of the time.
  • Ruby Tuesday is introducing a Kids Smart Eating Menu with eight new menu choices that are lower in fat and calories and have healthier, whole-grain carbohydrates. New entrees include a whole-grain tortilla with turkey and cheese, a cheeseburger in whole-grain wrap, pasta marinara, a grilled chicken breast and a kids' salad bar (a first in the restaurant industry.) Many of the new entrees with their side dishes have fewer than 600 calories.

We continue to look for news about entertainment venues addressing parents' increasing concern to feed their children healthy and nutritious foods, joining the paradigm shift in the restaurant industry occurring with new offerings on children's menus. The only news we've seen is from Chuck E. Cheese's, which recently introduced a 2 net-carbs per slice pizza, but that was primarily focused at parents as eaters rather than their kids. It's no wonder that when it comes time to eat, most families visiting location-based entertainment venues hit the road for better dining opportunities at chain restaurants.