How Kids Slowly Kill a Restaurant

michael-bauer-sfgate-eating-out-with-kids-between-mealsLoud shrieks, broken plates and food ground into the carpet aren’t the only reasons restaurants can be a bit grudging when parents show up with their kids.

Restaurants that welcome — but don’t particularly cater to — children, are getting killed at the end of the night, especially in this rough economy. One restaurant in California’s Bay Area was forced to raise prices and accommodating children was one of the reasons.

T.J. Jacobberger, a managing partner at Tavern at Lark Creek, does the math for the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Between Meals columnist, Michael Bauer:

When you do 40 children a night on a busy night, that can impact you average check quite significantly. The average check for a child is $7.50; our average check for an adult is about $31.00.

40 children x $7.50

150 adults x $ 31.00

190 covers total net sales is $ 4,950.00 or $ 26.06 per cover

Jaccobberger explains his restaurant made the decision to welcome the adults who brought children. Eventually, they added menu items around the $7.50 price point. But they’re still taking a hit.

Of course, one could argue that perhaps those adults with kids wouldn’t show up at all if their children weren’t welcome. Or maybe those kids are driving away those who left the kids behind.

Taking kids to nicer restaurants is one of those battlegrounds of modern parenting for which, really, there is no correct answer. Some kids can hack it. Some kids can’t. Parents make the call — and, as many of us have experienced as both transgressors and victims — not always the right one.

But hurting the profit margin of your favorite full-service restaurant probably isn’t something that gets factored in. Though I wonder if Jacobberger has run the turnover numbers on tables serving families with children. I know from personal experience, there’s no lingering. They could probably fit in two families like mine in the time it takes to feed one happy group with a blessed evening out without children.

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