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When it comes to effective management in the hospitality industry managers need to take into account a diverse array of possible circumstances that may occur that would affect client satisfaction and their subsequent patronage of a particular business.
This can come in the form of a restaurant’s ambience, the quality of the food, the type of services offered as well as other factors that contribute to a customer’s dining experience. In this particular project the problem in question is the effect boisterous children have on other customers within an enclosed restaurant setting.
At (PLACE NAME OF RESTAURANT HERE), a restaurant that specializes in Japanese cuisine and various sushi dishes, various families come to eat due to the family friendly image that the restaurant tries to portray.
While such a marketing strategy has proven to be effective as seen in the sheer amount of families eating at the restaurant on a daily basis, this success in appealing to one consumer group has in effect started to alienate other customers at the restaurant.
When parents bring their children to come eat at the restaurant there are two possible outcomes that may occur, either
- their children can become a pleasure to serve and are perfect little angels
- the children can be compared to little demons and are overly boisterous, active and noisy.
The latter situation is what often occurs and as a result other long time patrons of the restaurant have slowly but surely begun to patronize other Japanese restaurants. Customer complaints range from children being too noisy, too active within the restaurant (as they happen to enjoy running along the lanes), and just plain annoying in their opinion.
Based on an examination of their complaints, the problem was pinpointed at the children just having nothing to do within the restaurant. While it may be true that parents should be responsible for the attitude of their children it is considered to be highly disrespectful to ask customers to control their children or leave the restaurant.
Taking this into consideration, the best possible solution to the dilemma is to find something for the children to do in order to keep them occupied and create a restaurant environment that is appealing to all types of consumers that the restaurant caters to.
This is the first factor that will be explored in this paper and will center on various studies and articles that examine the practices of other restaurants and as a result should provide an effective solution to this predicament.
The second factor that will be explored in this paper involves the types of food normally seen on a Japanese menu, the reactions of kids to such items and methods that can be put into place to help prevent any negative consequences. What must be understood is that (PLACE NAME OF RESTAURANT HERE) tries to make the dishes on the menu as authentically Japanese as possible.
While such dishes are received quite well by the adult customers of the restaurant they are not received as well by children. Items such as sushi, sashimi, and yakisoba are often found partially eaten, thrown on the table or at worse at floor of the restaurant.
What’s worse is the fact that as these menu items are reject by kids they start to wail and cry about the type of food given to them which tends to annoy other patrons within the establishment. To resolve this issue what is needed is to devise a menu that specifically caters to children while at the same time stays true to the authentic Japanese style of (PLACE NAME OF RESTAURANT HERE).
Methods Utilized in Restaurants Today to Pacify Children
One of the current methods utilized by restaurants today such as McDonald’s, Applebee’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King to pacify children is to have placemats with an assortment of puzzles and mazes to keep them amused. Such tactics have proven to be quite effective in the short term as kids seem to enjoy completing the maze, filling in the blanks and an assortment of other activities.
Unfortunately such a tactic will most likely not work in the case of (PLACE NAME OF RESTAURANT HERE). The main difference between McDonald’s, Applebee’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King is that (PLACE NAME OF RESTAURANT HERE) isn’t a fast food restaurant nor is it an establishment that serves sub-par products.
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(PLACE NAME OF RESTAURANT HERE) creates authentic Japanese cuisine that is fresh and made to order and as such takes a considerably longer period of time to make as compared to America’s fast food and junk food establishments.
Taking this into consideration the placemats with mazes, games and puzzles will undoubtedly only last a child a few minutes and within that span of time it is unlikely that the food will be ready anytime soon, especially on nights when the restaurant is full.
The study of Lange-Küttner (2009) which examined the attention span of young children indicates that children have a natural propensity to continuously observe and interact with the environment around them and as a result this manifests itself as a form of hyperactive behavior making them unable to sit still for prolonged periods of time without something to continuously feed their need for environmental interaction (Lange-Küttner, 2009).
As such, due to the length of time it takes to make food at (PLACE NAME OF RESTAURANT HERE) utilizing placemats with games seems like an ill-advised solution since it will not feed the need for constant interaction that young children desire. An alternative solution to this predication could come in the form of providing children with toys to play with while they are at their table.
Such a solution could satisfy the need for interaction as indicated by Lange-Küttner (2009) but there are several issues with this particular solution.
As the article “75 years and counting: Health advice that endures (2011)” indicates contamination over shared toys is a very likely consequence with the possibility of a dozen children within a single day interacting with the same toy causing some of them to become sick as a result of cross contamination
(75 years and counting: Health advice that endures, 2011). While one possible solution to this issue is to institute some method of decontamination after each use, the researcher still thinks that utilizing toys is still an unsafe method based on the study of Lu, Samuels, Shi, Baker, Glover & Sanders (2004).
When examining the research of Mathis (2010) which detailed the use of the iPad as an interactive educational tool for children it became obvious that such a solution could be utilized at (PLACE NAME OF RESTAURANT HERE) as well. As indicated by Mathis (2010) the iPad can become a great tool for education due to the graphics and level of interactivity that it can provide.
By utilizing the iPad’s ability to feed a child’s need for interactivity through the use of various apps (applications) this would help to keep them situated in one location and above all quiet as they explore the various gaming apps that (PLACE NAME OF RESTAURANT HERE) can install.
In fact, (PLACE NAME OF RESTAURANT HERE) could install games that have a Japanese theme or food theme running through them which would help to educate children about the Japanese culture and different kinds of foods. Not only that, a water proof and germ proof cover could be applied on the iPad so that it can be easily cleaned and utilized by the next child that comes to the restaurant.
By providing this particular type of service to the children of customers this will boost the image of (PLACE NAME OF RESTAURANT HERE) as a family friendly restaurant that does all it can to keep customers happy.
It must also be noted that by providing this particular service to families this in turn helps to keep other customers happy since it ensures that children who come to the restaurant are quiet and peaceful and thus would help to preserve the quiet ambience that (PLACE NAME OF RESTAURANT HERE) is known for.
A Menu for Children
Children are notoriously picky when it comes to the food they eat, if they don’t like what’s placed in front of them they tend to act out in temper tantrums, fling the plate or even fling the food in the worst possible scenario. While this would normally be fine within a home setting the fact is that within a restaurant it can become incredibly disturbing for the other patrons and as such encourages them to go to other establishments.
In order to resolve this particular issue it becomes necessary for (PLACE NAME OF RESTAURANT HERE) to implement a Japanese style menu that combines authentic Japanese cuisine with an eye towards appeasing a younger consumer segment. When it comes to appetizers and side dishes few children will eat what they don’t recognize or encounter what they deem to be “unusual flavors”.
Taking this into consideration (PLACE NAME OF RESTAURANT HERE) should have a menu made especially for children and must have items that not only are authentically Japanese but have a slightly western flare to their making in order to appeal to a child’s sense of taste.
Chicken teriyaki is one Japanese dish that most children find quite appetizing since it closely resembles chicken barbeque in flavor. The chicken is usually placed on top of a bowl of rice with a nice sweet savory sauce being poured on top. The “easy to eat” nature of this dish along with its overall familiarity should ensure that few children would have any problems eating it.
A dish that uses a similar sweet sauce to chicken teriyaki is Yakitori, a Japanese dish that is usually served on skewers since the beef or chicken pieces are grilled over an open flame. Having this dish on the menu is in line with the idea behind having chicken teriyaki on the menu since their overall consistency, appearance and flavors closely match dishes children in the U.S. already know about.
Aside from traditional Japanese dishes it may be advisable to include some Japanese cuisine inspired American dishes especially for children.
While these items won’t necessarily be available on the main menu since they cannot be described as “authentic” Japanese cuisine they might need to become necessary elements for a Japanese children’s menu and only given on special request to adult customers. These dishes are: California rolls and Philadelphia rolls
Philadelphia rolls are composed of a stuffing of cream cheese, and cumber surrounded by rice and smoked salmon. While not technically a Japanese dish, the overall configuration does utilize several elements of Japanese sushi making and as such could be considered a fusion of Eastern technique with Western tastes.
Overall the dish is quite tasty and has several flavors that children are used to and as such is a good appetizer for children to enjoy. The combination of salmon, cucumber and cream cheese are mild enough flavors that they don’t overwhelm a child’s taste buds and as such have proven to be a well liked starter set for children.
It must be noted though that some children don’t especially like having fish and as such it is advisable to inform parents of the ingredients of the dish before having them order. Another dish that has been shown to be quite palatable for children is the California roll.
Similarly a fusion of Eastern and Western styles the California roll is composed of avocado, cucumber and crab meat surrounded by rice. Overall the dish is quite chewy and as such it is not recommended for overly young kids but overall it makes a good starter since children apparently quite like its unique orange color and mild flavors.
When it comes to desert there are several possible strategies that could be done in order to get children to like what they are about to eat. One strategy is to utilize a desert in the menu that children will find familiar and thus be more likely to eat it as compared to other more traditional Japanese deserts.
While it may be true that (PLACE NAME OF RESTAURANT HERE) could just serve a desert like ice cream to children the fact remains that this would not conform to the message of authenticity that (PLACE NAME OF RESTAURANT HERE) is utilizing in its branding strategy.
It is due to this that it becomes necessary to find a middle ground so to speak that allows the restaurant to both conform to its branding strategy while at the same time appeases the fickle nature of children when it comes to eating.
Taking this into consideration one possible food item that could go into the menu is Dorayaki, this is a traditional Japanese desert that has sweet bean paste placed in between two pancakes and made to look like either a round sandwich or a flat bun. The pancake like exterior is made out of floor, eggs and several other ingredients and it does have a pancake like consistency to it.
One of the reasons why this would definitely entice children is due to the overall look of the desert which definitely looks like two pancakes stacked on top of each other. It must also be noted that this desert isn’t overly sweet and has a nice consistency to the bean paste which contrasts nicely with the two pancakes surrounding it.
Since it looks familiar, has just the right amount of sweetness and has been proven to be a desert enjoyed by children both in and out of Japan it is quite likely that it would be a great choice for the menu.
The second possible strategy is to appeal to a child’s sense of aesthetics by making a desert look as palatable as possible. One desert that fulfills this particular criterion is Nerikiri, this is another traditional Japanese desert that is normally served during tea ceremonies.
While the main ingredient of this particular type of desert is a sweet white bean paste Nerikiri can actually be colored and molded to conform to a variety of artistic shapes that makes it look like a work of art. (PLACE NAME OF RESTAURANT HERE) could make a special line of Nerikiri that is made to look especially appetizing for children.
This would help to entice them to eat the desert and as such prevent any tantrums regarding what they would have to eat for their last course.
75 years and counting: Health advice that endures. (cover story). (2011). Consumer Reports on Health, 23(5), 1.
Lange-Küttner, C. C. (2009). Viewing and attention in children. Acta Paediatrica, 98(10), 1553-1555.
Lu, N. N., Samuels, M. E., Shi, L. L., Baker, S. L., Glover, S. H., & Sanders, J. M. (2004). Child day care risks of common infectious diseases revisited. Child: Care, Health & Development, 30(4), 361-368.
MATHIS, J. (2010). The iPad’s School Day: Apple’s tablet Hits the classroom. Macworld, 27(12), 28.