With restrictions on dining in restaurants being adjusted to include parties of up to 10 and seating allowed at the bar beginning tomorrow, I am providing you with a refresher guide (for many of us it may have been a while since we’ve eaten out!) to assist you with your dining needs.
Category 1- The Faster the Better!
McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s top the list. The kids are hungry. We are tired. We deserve the break today! I can’t say that I actually enjoy the food from the girl, king or clown, but when my kids were little, it beat hearing, “I don’t like this” after I had prepared a healthy meal after a long day at work. Besides, children are rewarded for eating with a plastic advertisement from the latest movie or video game and we don’t have to cook. Sounds like a win- win to me!
Category 2- Let’s Celebrate Something…Kids Style!
Here is where Chuck E Cheese and Apex Entertainment find their niche. Known to cater to specifically to families, these restaurants are the perfect place to spend a small fortune celebrating a birthday, achievement or visit with an aunt! These sensory overloaded establishments, complete with food on the floor, make any child joyous and any parent leave with a headache.
I personally miss the Ground Round. I have fond memories of eating peanuts and throwing the shells on the floor (yes, this was encouraged there in the 70s and 80s!), while watching silent, black and white films and cartoons. Good times! While there are none left in MA, there are several others across the country. But don’t go in expecting to have a food fight with yourself. They have “cleaned up” their image!
Category 3- Adult Beverages and Kids Meals
You want someone to wait on you for a change! You have absolutely had enough and the only person you want to make happy is yourself. Down deep you know that this is never possible, but that doesn’t stop you from trying. You suggest a sit-down meal that includes an adult beverage and kids meals. Your major chain restaurants such as the 99 and Applebee’s, as well as most local, moderately priced establishments fall into this category. These are the restaurants that try to make all of their customers happy. But… most leave feeling more stressed than when they entered. Why? Because the kids are bored and the parents are frustrated with their children’s complaints and fidgety behavior.
Category 4- It’s Worth The Cost Of A Babysitter!
These restaurants are more upscale and definitely do not market themselves to families. If you bring your child to these restaurants, you are probably the parent of an only child. Any family with siblings is most likely not civilized enough to sit and wait for their food quietly, engage in topic based conversation and eat vegetables other than a potato “french fried”. This is why these restaurants are reserved for nights when you can afford to pay the babysitter. There are a few chains that could fall into this category, but I preferred to spend my money at the local restaurants that specially put “recommended for ages 12+” on their website. This way I can just about guarantee an adult like dining experience!
Category 5- Empty Nesters Eat At The Bar!
Why do you see so many middle-aged and older adults eating at the bar? The answer is simple. We have already lived through the other categories of restaurants and we have found the perfect dining spot. We can’t hear as well, so we need to sit next to each other to keep the conversation going, despite the background noise. In addition, the TVs and bartenders provide added conversation starters. If you are an impatient middle aged person, you don’t have to wait as long to order your meal or get your check because the bartenders are always within sight. Lastly, if you ask my husband, he will tell you that you get better drinks at the bar!
In which category do you prefer to dine? Do you switch it up or tend to stay in one category? Do you miss throwing peanut shells and watching silent films while you dine too?