According to restaurant research firm Technomic, independent restaurants are promoting adult-style offerings to kids in greater numbers. Referring to this trend as “kid-adult fusion,” the Chicago-based consulting firm says a growing number of menus are targeting kids with smaller portions of premium steaks, fresh fish, locally sourced healthy foods and bolder ethnic flavors that are usually found on adult menus. Its findings are found in its 2009 Kids' Marketing & Menu Report.
“The ability to develop menu offerings around a local, organic or natural culinary focus is a trademark of independent concepts that operate in the higher-end, fine-dining realm,” says Darren Tristano, executive v.p. at Technomic. “Parents who value these attributes in food are beginning to steer their children away from mac-and-cheese and chicken finger entrees in favor of fresh seafood, baked or grilled chicken, organic vegetables and premium cuts of meat.” He adds that this trend has a good potential to trickle down to the more casual levels of dining.
Technomic also scoured its list of the Top 250 chain restaurants and found that most notable entrée trend on kids' menus is the growth of pasta and noodle items. And aside from the increasing incidence of fruits and vegetables as side dishes on kids' menus, kids' beverage selections are also getting healthier with more organic and natural items available. It cites these examples of a growing kids' menu health trend:
Big Bowl's BBQ Pork Chow Fun features naturally raised pork.
Bob Evans offers low-fat strawberry yogurt, which is served by itself or as a dipping sauce for seasonal fresh fruit.
IHOP offers a kid's tilapia fillet entrée that's served with steamed broccoli and a junior scrambled egg and a pancake entrée that's made with an egg substitute.
Legal Seafoods prepares it's kids' chicken finger entrée with all-natural chicken.
Panera Breads offers organic yogurt, organic American cheese and all-natural peanut butter.