Being a family-friendly restaurant is a bigger mission, and children are the most important evaluators of its success
The Estonian Association of Big Families has mapped out restaurants where special attention is paid to families with children so they can have an enjoyable time. This year, three Tallink Hotels restaurants received the heart-warming recognition of being family-friendly. These restaurants are Nero, City Grill House and Ristorante Flavore. Eva Hanschmidt-Kalmus, Member of the Management Board of Tallink Hotels, and Marju Raudsepp-Põder, Training and Service Quality Manager, say that being a family-friendly restaurant is a separate mission, and the company works every day towards achieving it.
The fact that three Tallink Hotels restaurants were highlighted as family-friendly speaks for something bigger. Eva Hanschmidt-Kalmus confirms it: “For a long time, we have been devoting a lot of energy into thinking about different details to create a truly special experience for children. It means, for example, fun pizzas with ears and jolly cocktails with little sharks swimming in them – this creates excitement among children. It also means offering an opportunity to get involved in shaping the food experience – whether by choosing ingredients for pasta or pizza or as a student in the cooking school.”
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Of course, the food itself is the focus of family-friendly thinking. It is important to feel happy and fulfilled. “We like that our menu includes meatballs with mashed potatoes, chicken nuggets, pasta, pizza, and French fries. We offer them in a fresh and high-quality way typical of a restaurant, and we believe that eating out should be a little different for everyone. When dining out, we usually want to try delights that we don’t cook ourselves daily. At home, it is important to eat steamed carrots and broccoli, but in the restaurant, we want to offer the opportunity to feel free and enjoy dishes that are outside the daily routine. We are constantly figuring out ways to create special experiences through food. The latest developments can be seen soon in the kid’s menus of Nero and City Grill House,” promises Eva with excitement.
She emphasizes that for Tallink Hotels, family-friendliness also means taking into account the needs of all family members. The restaurants have drawing tools and clever toys that provide evolving activities for children. At the same time, parents can spend time with each other. That’s why Nero’s Sunday family brunch and other special days have a fun game master who spends time with children. The birthdays of younger family members are also unique. There is a children´s bubbly and pretty soon, an exciting Club One gift case full of surprises that are drawn in a lottery. “For us, family-friendliness is a bigger goal, because we want to offer the families an opportunity to create beautiful memories,” says Eva.
Family-friendliness is created through people and shared stories
Marju Raudsepp-Põder promises that receiving recognition does not mean resting on laurels, and work continues to stay worthy of the achievement. Being family-friendly requires attention, care, new ideas, and guiding employees. “For example, maintaining a play area is just as important as good service or delicious food. I appreciate the restaurants where the children’s area is well-thought-out and stays the same quality over time.”
Marju knows that in the restaurant, it all starts with the people and stories we tell. “Some waiters and waitresses communicate with children more naturally than others. As we have received a lot of sincere and positive emotions from both parents and children, we also have many inspiring stories to share with our staff at training. I believe that we learn best through stories. Another important tool is to notice success and recognize it. If something that we have talked about in the training, is applied in the service and makes a guest happy, then this deserves praise. In this case, the employee has stepped out of their comfort zone and has created a special experience. This is always worthy of recognition, and these are the examples we share with both the team and the management. In the middle of the hospitality business, there is a person, and it often starts with one great, warm and attentive waiter or waitress.”
Both Eva and Marju point out that family-friendliness is a bigger mission that should unite family members and bring them closer to each other. Therefore, one of the challenges of our time, screen addiction, has not been overlooked. Eva admits that her children also have a habit of being on their phones while waiting for food. That is precisely why the content of the toy baskets has been carefully thought out. “We chose clever toys to keep children and parents active. Exploring together creates an opportunity to have a good time and strengthen family relationships.” Marju also agrees with that: “I believe many mothers share my expectation that every minute we can fill in a way that children don’t disappear behind the screen is a double joy.”
The attention paid to each other instead of the screens is the most important thing in a family-friendly restaurant. According to Eva, this includes a sincere welcome. “It is important to feel that the children are welcome in the restaurant. Just a warm look from a waiter or waitress is sometimes worth more than a thousand words. Marju also agrees that the attitude toward children and how the child feels at the restaurant often determines the choices of the whole family. “I am a mother of two children, and I have always been most happy with the places where my child asks us to come back soon. I believe that the preferences of the children are important in every family. In Tallink Hotels restaurants, the biggest recognition for us is the one that comes from the children. If the little guests tell our employees that they had an enjoyable and comfortable time with us, then we have succeeded in our mission.”