CHICAGO Independent restaurants are appealing to children’s increasingly sophisticated tastes by adding more adult-style foods to their kids’ menus, according to a study released Monday by Technomic Inc.
In its 2009 Kids’ Marketing & Menu Report, the foodservice consultancy said it had discovered increased incidents of seafood, steaks, ethnic dishes and local fare served in small portion sizes and marketed to children on independent menus nationwide. The trend has notable trickle-down potential for chains, officials noted.
For example, the White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia promotes local ingredients such as carrots, zucchini and tomatoes for the “fresh seasonal vegetable” of the day for young people.
At Turner Fisheries at The Westin Copley Place Hotel in Boston, the kids’ menu features clam chowder, steamed chicken lobster and a seafood sampler with scallop “coins.” Children eat for free before 7 p.m. when accompanied by an adult, but the seafood sampler and lobster come with an extra surcharge.
“You have to recognize that kids have increasing appetites,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Chicago-based Technomic. “As kids are maturing faster, their taste palates are evolving faster. So they’re looking for something beyond macaroni and cheese, pizza and chicken tenders. Items like barbecue ribs, sushi and seafood are becoming more common.”