Carla Sullivan is a mom of two living in New York City. Frustrated by the lack of information about eating out with children in her hometown she started a website called Mini-Munchers: The Ultimate Source for Children’s Menus in NYC. Launched in September 2010, Mini-Munchers is a comprehensive list of all the children’s menus in New York City restaurants. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Carla about her exciting new adventure:
1) What inspired you to start Mini-Munchers?
I love to eat out and have always checked Menu Pages when making a reservation or dining out at a new restaurant. It occured to me, as a mother of two, that there wasn’t anything similar on the web for kid’s menus. SInce we also frequently eat out with our kids and explore the City with our kids, I recognized that a comprehensive resource for menus – not only by cuisine and price, but by neighborhood and kids destination (like FAO Schwartz and the Children’s Museum of Manhattan) would be a useful tool.
2) How do you gather your information from restaurants (visit each one?)?
I personally visit or call each restaurant to get their children’s menu. For the reviews, I also visit the restaurant with my kid(s) and order from the children’s menu, visit the bathrooms, etc. I experience the restuarants with my children and have a checklist that is published on the site, that I go through after each visit. I really feel that it keeps the consistency with reviewing criteria to have just one person (myself) execute the reviews. It is time consuming and is why there are more menus then reviews but I truly feel that the reviews are all fair and unbaised because I have taken the time to visit each spot.
3) Any plans for more cities?
Before expanding to other cities, we are hoping to extend MiniMunchers reach to the other 4 boroughs of NYC. Then we would love to take the concept to other major Cities in the US – Philadelphia (my home City), Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles would be obvious places to start!
4) What are your personal tips for dining out in NYC with kids?
1) Never eat at a “hot” restaurant. If it is new or cool then it translates to CROWDED and therefore a potential wait. Hungry children are best served quickly.
2) Go to a restuarant a little before your kids are hungry. That way by the time they ARE, their food is in front of them.
3) Call ahead. You would be surprised at the special menus and accomodations that restaurants can prepare (at least a spacious table and reserved highchair) in advance.
4) Have fun. There are so many kid-friendly restaurants in NYC that have great adult food that kids will enjoy. Channel your inner-child and enjoy them digging into a colossal milk shake, learning how to do oragami or watching their eyes light up when following the tricks of a magician. Happy children = Happy parents!
5) Any insider tips we should know about choosing a restaurant to eat at with our family?
1) Definately check out MiniMunchers.com and do your homework. It is best to go to a restuarant that has a dedicated children’s menu. If they do then you know that they WELCOME children and you will have a much better dining experience.
2) Always remember that your children are children and you could be the most prepared (crayons, games, toys, video games,etc.) and they STILL act up. You have to know when to say when and pull the plug – you are still in a public place and you have to be considerate of other diners.
3) Don’t be afraid to ask for a modified size and PRICE. Even if they don’t have a children’s menu, kids still eat mini-portions and MANY restaurants will take that into consideration and offer a special price.
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