Many restaurants make it more affordable for families to dine out
Eating out can take a toll on the family budget. Feeding a family of four can cost $30 easily, even if everyone orders water to drink.
But many restaurants are keeping their seats filled by offering deals for their youngest patrons.
“Smart operators are firing on all cylinders to get customers in their seats,” said Keith Gellman, president and publisher of RestaurantChains.net, a weekly newsletter covering public and private restaurant chains.
“We have noticed an increase in lower-priced menus, restaurant offerings, by way of menu choices and entrepreneurial start-ups. New offerings include free kids meals for small children, 2-for-1 dinner offerings for anyone, and discounts for seniors,” Gellman said.
“Kids’ night” is not a new idea; it’s just becoming a little more popular now that the economy has taken a downturn.
Parents still want to eat out, and they’re looking for ways to save money while doing so. “I’m always looking for ways to spend less money,” said Jessica Frye, a featured blogger on Bluegrassmoms.com.
Many of the restaurants that offer savings on meals also provide activities for children, she said. But how do you find these restaurants?
“Really, a lot of it is checking at the restaurants,” she said. “I was driving on New Circle and saw a sign at Zaxby’s that they have ‘kids eat free.’”
Another great way to find those deals is to search restaurant Web sites. Frye signs up for restaurant newsletters and often receives coupons from them.
Another money-saving tip: Have your kids drink water.
“Sometimes drinks are free, but most of the time they’re not,” she said.
Full-service restaurants such as Bella Notte and Ramsey’s Diners have kid-friendly menus at reduced prices, and drinks are included. Independent restaurants including Bella Notte offer menus for children 12 and younger. Smashing Tomato and Ruby Tuesday have special nights and prices for children. At Culver’s, children receive a free custard with every kid’s basket. And after the purchase of 10 kids’ meals, youngsters can get a free prize, such as a toy or T-shirt.
Smashing Tomato, also owned by Bella Notte’s parent company, Tomato Express, has kids’ night from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday. The bambino pizza, regularly $4, is $1.99. Crafts and games also are offered on kids’ night.
Monday through Thursday at Ruby Tuesday, each paid adult entree entitles a child to eat free.
When you have a hankering for pizza, Frye recommends checking for printable coupons online. “Often you can order pizza online and get better prices than just ordering by phone. They often will have online deals only. I always check those before ordering,” she said.
Here is a list of some places that offer money- saving kids’ meals. For other listings, go to Bluegrassmoms.com or Frye’s Web site, www.dontgivehimcrackers.blogspot.com.
Applebee’s: On Mondays, children get a free meal with every adult meal purchase. Additional kids’ meals are $1.
Beef O’Brady’s: From 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, children receive one free meal for each adult.
Bellacino’s Pizza: Children 10 and younger eat free with each adult meal from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Dine-in only.
Buffalo Wild Wings: Children 12 and younger can eat for 99 cents from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday.
Calistoga:: Every Tuesday in June they will give a free kids meal for every adult entree purchased.
Cici’s Pizza: Children 3 and younger always eat free.
Denny’s: Two children’s meals free from 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays.
Fazoli’s: Kids’ meals are 99 cents with the purchase of an adult entrÃ©e from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays.
Golden Corral: Children 3 and younger eat for $1.99 on Tuesdays.
Gold Star Chili: Children 3 and younger eat free on Tuesdays.
IHOP: From 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, each child 12 and younger gets a free meal with each adult meal. Drink is not included.
Logan’s Roadhouse: Kids eat for $2.99 Monday through Wednesday.
Moe’s Southwestern Grill: Children eat free on Mondays with each adult purchase.
Penn Station: After 5 p.m. Tuesdays, order one sub and get a free small sub.
Perkins: Kids eat free all day Tuesdays.
Red Robin: Children 10 and younger eat free from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.
Ruby Tuesday: Children 10 and younger eat free Monday through Thursday, with each paid adult entree.
Steak ‘n Shake: For every $8 spent by an adult, one child eats free. That’s on Saturday and Sunday.
Texas Roadhouse: Children 12 and younger eat free on Tuesdays.
TGIFridays: Children 3 and younger eat free on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Tony Roma’s: Children 12 and younger eat free with each paying adult all day on Tuesdays.
Zaxby’s: Kids eat free with adult entree purchases from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays.