Restaurant Development & Design

FALL 2014

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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F A L L 2 0 1 4 • R E S T A U R A N T D E V E L O P M E N T + D E S I G N • 2 7 BY VALERIE KILLIFER, Contributing Editor W ith the debate raging in some segments over whether young children should be allowed in restaurants, some operators are taking a frm stand. They're welcoming kids and their families with open arms, spaces specifcally designed to make them comfortable, with interactive games, special seating areas and good food. "When people talk about being kid friendly, the frst thing I think you can do is really become parent friendly," says Tom Jednorowicz, the founder and CEO of Bloomington, Ill.-based Meatheads Burgers & Fries. "When you can do things that make parents acquiesce to the decision of where they're going to eat out, and that let kids be kids, it's conducive to the family experience." The father of two young girls, Jednorowicz's experiences dining out with his children were instrumental in Meatheads' design to enhance the restaurants' appeal to families with children. "It's tough for children to be in an environment where they're constantly being scolded for being too loud, or too disruptive. It's diffcult for everyone," he says. "We wanted to create an environment where we take the pressure off that experience." Each of Meatheads' 15 locations includes design elements intended to provide a quality and stress-free experience for children and their families. For example, the restaurants feature horseshoe-shaped booths in which one adult can sit on either end with the children in the middle. It's a simple design strategy, but one that helps to minimize little ones' ability to get away from the table and run around. "When we founded Meatheads my children were four and six years old. When we put the kids in the car and asked where they wanted to eat it was either McDonald's or Chuck E. Cheese's. McDonald's doesn't appeal to me from a food perspective and Chuck E. Cheese's does not from an environment perspective," Jednorowicz says. "Parents know at Meatheads they are going to get a quality meal in an environment where they appreciate that they don't have to worry about their child." In addition to its U-shaped booths and kid-friendly menus, Meatheads made kids and families a key part of its branding package. Bring on the Kids! In a nod to safety, at Giggles N' Hugs the play areas can be seen from every seat in the restaurant and all table edges and corners are rounded.

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