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Restaurant Service: Tips For Kids Dining

By Paul Paz

Speak directly to the child quietly so as not to startle or create fear. Use their names whenever possible. Bend or shift your height to their level for effective eye contact and to pose a less threatening posture. Compliment them for good manners and positive restaurant behavior. Thank them for smiles.

Anticipating needs and reactions is a key factor in providing great service to families. Be prepared to "rush" for parents. Offer to "hold" orders for parents tending to children away form the table. Ask permission of parents to have children's meals started as soon as possible, if a child may order their choice, have drink refills (use a to-go soft cup with a lid to prevent spills), ordering desserts, or removing plates. Inform the parents of condiments on children's orders to avoid dining complications resulting from "icky stuff" on their plate. Be prepared to offer familiar and comfortable children menu selections. Bring bibs or linen napkins moistened with warm water so the kids can be kept clean and tidy. Bring crackers to ward off hunger pangs. Ask parents about immediate needs to alleviate tantrums. If parents are reprimanding their child: stay out of it! All these efforts assist distracted or distressed parents in managing the dining experience for their entire family.

At times waiters need to be prepared for some simple distractions or diversions for pint-size guests. It can be as simple as seating families at table windows so the visual activities inside and out can be a diversion. Crayons with paper kid stickers and puzzles are some common amenities provided. I used a small hand puppet (with a happy expression) to engage restless or screaming little ones.

Paul C. Paz is a Professional Waiter, Hospitality Consultant & Author of the book Service At Its Best: Waiter-Waitress Training.

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