The mistakes restaurants make with young diners

Service problems
Julie Casey
CEO of, consultant
“Service, service, service. I have moms tell me all the time that they feel treated differently at restaurants with their kids than they do when they go back to that same restaurant without kids. Moms tell me the minute they walk in door, they see this attitude take over the host, the eye roll. They also don’t respect that we are there with kids and timing is very important. ”

No all-day menu
Kathy Hayden  
Foodservice Analyst, Mintel Menu Insights
“Millennials don’t want to hear that they can’t have a burger for breakfast. [Restaurants should] have their entire menu available all the time. Don’t pay attention to traditional dayparts.”

Palates change,you should too
Ian Davidson  
Senior Manager, Brand Insights C3
“The most common mistake in the marketplace is the one-size-fits-all philosophy that all kids under the age of 12 have identical needs. As a result, 12-year-olds are often given the same menu options as 3-year-olds even though developmentally they couldn’t be more radically different. Biologically speaking, there is a massive palate shift that occurs around 9 or 10 where children begin to gravitate toward adult flavors. While many operators assume kids transition out of their kids’ menu due to portion size, our research indicates that flavor fatigue is a big—if not bigger—driver.”

Not social enough
Jake Katz
General Manager, Youth Pulse, Inc.
“We see food as an evolving creative outlet for Millennials. One opportunity the foodservice industry is missing is making it easier and more interesting to track their food news socially. Sharing ‘epic meals,’ ‘food creations,’ ‘cooking accomplishments’ and all other share-worthy food-related items throughout social media. There is a smart social media campaign from the foodservice industry simply waiting to happen.”

No respect
Bonnie Riggs
Restaurant Industry Analyst, NPD
“Young adults, the heaviest restaurant users, often feel like they aren’t being treated with respect. Kids have more sophisticated palates than they have in the past. Young adults are looking for fresh and healthier options. Neither groups have given up on the classics, but they are also interested in new menu items.”

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