Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Eating out with large group of children

This last weekend, I got to eat out at Cheesecake Factory (this one here) in Rancho Cucamonga.
A mom called ahead, and every few minutes a mom carrying a bag and a toddler appeared, a snack plate landing on the table before anyone could make a hungry sound.
Six of us successfully ate there on a Sunday! it was a blast and afterwards we played at the playground and rode the train, trickling away as nap times and other factors weighed in.
I had the quesadilla off of the breakfast menu, wanting to save my sweet tooth for cheesecake later. So Foodie Baby had his snack plate of bananas and bread (previously mentioned here) black beans, bites of tortillas, pico de gallo, and various nibbles from my breakfast.

There were several factors that led to the success of the brunch out...

*First, there was an adult for every kid. Seating was odd, since the Cheesecake Factory mostly has booth and benches- we were seated at a long table with half of it a bench seat, so the kids could only be in the aisle. To help condense the group, I actually sat across from Foodie Baby, and he with a mom on each side. I did a lot of the work, but the other two moms were very helpful to have there! If he hadn't of been a very good boy that day, the arrangement might not have worked.
I also played with another one who was on the bench seat by me while his mom talked and helped keep him from climbing the table.
*We ate early. Cheesecake Factory opens at 10 am on Sundays. That made it more of a snack for the little ones, but also put it far enough away from nap time there were no tired meltdowns. The restaurant was also quiet, so not only did we have a lot of waiter attention, but errant toys would not be an issue to neighboring diners. There were also less people to care is someone shouted in their high chair.
*Eating kids are happy kids. Entertained with bread from a bread basket, a packed snack, or ordering an appetizer as soon as possible for them to share... whatever works. The snack plates made some of them happy the entire time we ate.
*We had a good waitress. She made sure the snack plates were there when everyone was seated and helped clear plates as they were emptied or condensed them.
* We enjoy the adult and baby company. Foodie Baby happily got attention from other moms while I played with another one. If I had been there just to talk with the other moms (which is always nice as well, and we had some nice conversations) it wouldn't have worked as well.

It worked with these factors, but seating wise Cheesecake Factory is not the best option for a group with many high chairs with the many booths in the restaurant.

Any other tips for eating out with a bigger group and multiple kids? Any restaurants you find success with? Why?

1 comment:

  1. Honestly, I haven't found a place that works very well with my 5 + my sister's 3 children. We take a 13, 11, 10, 8, 7, 4 & 3 year old, and the 3.5 month old baby.

    Calling ahead to let them know you're coming is helpful. I've also let them know I am aware that my children may be hungry/loud/whatever.

    I ask for extra room. My kids always need to go to the bathroom and I usually have to feed the baby, so sitting in a booth would not work.

    Or, we just stay home & order from Great American Pizza Co. We make the kids some homemade pasta while they wait, because they get antsy & hungry as soon as they hear the word "pizza" :)