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Dining deals for parents

October 29, 2009 9:25:21 PM PDT
Restaurants, like most businesses, have taken a hit during the economic downturn. Eating out not a top priority, especially for parents.

Research shows that restaurant visits among those with children fell five percent compared to the same time last year.

"We've changed our habits quite a bit," Tori Schoeler said.

Schoeler has her hands full with 18-month-old Luke and 7-week-old Maeve. So, when she and her husband do go out, she says they'd rather be able to take the kids to a place with options.

"We'd rather go to a nice restaurant rather than McDonald's and to have the options for children is a plus," she said.

Restaurants seem to be listening. At the Cheesecake Factory, for example, they've added their first-ever kids menu.

While it includes childhood favorites, like chicken fingers and corndogs, there's also grilled chicken.

Add to that, new small plates and specials menus with lower prices.

"We've always been a value concept and we want our guests to feel that even thru these times that we understand what everyone's going thru," Lewis Schwartz of the Cheesecake Factory said.

The Kazmi's are Cheesecake Factory regulars. With one and a half year old Daniel and two older boys at home, mom and dad say they appreciate the new, cheaper menu additions.

"Now they've added a kids menu. It's very, very convenient especially for my kids. It's easier and more healthy stuff they can easily pick,"

Other restaurants are also adding healthier meals for children, or appealing to their parent's pocketbooks with special promotions like" kids-eat free" nights.

Restaurant operators are hoping having healthier and less expensive options on the menu will help convince mom and dad to bring back junior.

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