Operators devise menu plans with children in mind
You have to look hard to find great seafood options on the kids’ menu, where old favorites like fried fish and chips, and the variations thereof (fish fingers, fish sticks) are often the only options. But a handful of innovators have introduced more sophisticated children’s seafood offerings to their menus, and the items are proving popular, both with kids and parents, who are looking for dishes that are healthful and taste good.
At Joe’s Crab Shack, a U.S. casual-dining seafood chain with 130 locations, the kids’ menu features a steampot, snow crab and grilled popcorn shrimp. Each one is served with healthful sides including celery, applesauce, corn on the cob and rice or vegetables. The company updated its kids’ menu in 2010 and 2011, when it worked closely with registered dieticians provided by San Diego-based Healthy Dining Finder, restaurant consultants that focus on creating healthier items for both the adults’ and kids’ menus.
One of Healthy Dining Finders’ programs is Kids LiveWell, launched in collaboration with the National Restaurant Association (NRA) to encourage restaurateurs to feature one or more kids’ menu items that meet the association’s nutrition criteria. Joe’s Crab Shack was among the first restaurants to get on board, repackaging the way it presented food choices on the kids’ menu so that it highlighted lean protein, vegetables, grains, fruits and low-fat dairy.
“We were thankful for their leadership on the issue of smart food choices for kids and embraced the opportunity to be an inaugural partner in the Kids LiveWell program,” says Janet Gieselman, VP of marketing at Joe’s Crab Shack. “Parents love that we provide options outside of what is traditionally expected. Joe’s menu gives their kids a chance to try healthy, new items such as crab and shrimp, often for the first time, while still offering known favorites such as Cheesy Mac and Chicken Dippers. And kids are excited to order an item that’s similar or the same as what they see their parents order — only kid-sized.”