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When the Price Isn't Right

Kids eat free: When crayons and nuggets just don't cut it.

I think that restaurants and shows often put very little thought into their kids menus, kids admission, or children’s discounts. Families, on the other hand, place great significance on this. I know families that have a white board in their kitchen that lists all the best kid’s nights, discounts, and deals.

Our calendar has a restaurant’s name on almost every day, noting that establishment’s “Kids Eat Free” night, or the days they offer a discount. If the urge strikes, or more likely the budget allows, we like to take the kids out into the wild to see other humans and test them on their in-public use of manners. The first thing we do once we’ve decided to eat out, is check the calendar and see where will offer the best discount.

Then, we consult our listing of menus to determine the best choices.

Tuesdays we end up at Chick-Fil-A quite often, because they offer Kids Eat Free. While we have almost three times as many kids as adults, the two free meals we earn, do add up and it makes the trip worthwhile, over many other destinations.

When our trips out fall immediately after a payday and on a Monday, we will go to Kayson’s or Bedoe’s on their kids nights. The selections there are by far the best. They have a generous selection of sides, and great kids choices for the main items. As an added bonus, they have TVs at each booth to keep the kids partially distracted with Sponge Bob while my husband and I finish our food. Sidelines is our Wednesday destinations. After 4 p.m. on a weeknight, iHop is an available option. CiCi’s scales their buffet prices based on age, which helps as well. We certainly do well for the money there, as just about every one of our family members puts away slice after slice, salad and pasta. You’d be amazed to see my kids eat Mac and Cheese Pizza.

Probably less interesting is the way my puts away the Buffalo Chicken.

But not every business is as attuned to this market of families who really track the specials and bring their business based upon it. We heard marvelous, glowing reviews of the Peter Pan show downtown, between the Aquarium and the Coca Cola Museum. Friends told us that the show was a magical experience for everyone regardless of age and that we must not allow ourselves to miss it. I went to the site, clicked for five kids and two adult tickets and just about fell on the floor. It would cost $227.50 to take my family to the show. I decided immediately that the Peter Pan DVD on BlueRay and a new Playstation 3 would be a a far wiser investment of that much money, if we had actually had it. I’m sure that the show is lovely, but it is not an option to spend that kind of money in our household. It is even less of an option to leave any other kids out. Jealousy could bring this house of cards right down on our heads. I realize that a seat taken up has a cost, and the wonderful performers deserve every penny they make, but it simply is too high of a cost.

Many a restaurant throws a hot dog and a chicken finger in a basket with blue and yellow crayon and hopes you will bring your kids along. But first of all, that yellow crayon barely shows up at all on the placemat, but the $2.25 for the kids drink (not included) sure does show up large on the bill. Second of all, it is very short-sighted to put so little thought into your kids menu. What are kids notorious for? Being the pickiest people on the planet so two choices is in no way acceptable.

My point here is not that every place should cater to my family, my kids, and give me things for free. It is simply that some places already do, so they will continue to earn my business. If you want to compete for my entertainment dollar, make it go further.

Or you will see none of them at all.

Marilyn March 15, 2011 at 08:45 PM
You need to sign up for distribution lists like atlantaonthecheap.com, living social, groupon, scoutmob, deal swarm, goldstar, half off depot...... There are several very affordable ways to have a family night out.
Marilyn March 15, 2011 at 08:51 PM
You can also go to citypass.com to buy a discounted multi attraction pass to eliminate having to pay separate entrance fees.
Jessie Gable March 15, 2011 at 10:05 PM
Not to mention, Groupon has had several extremely low-priced massages and spa treatment deals in the area lately.
Glenna Newsome March 15, 2011 at 11:27 PM
For the Canton area....Bobby's Cheeseburger has kids night free on Monday and their food is good.

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