What is in this article?:
- Silver Diner's executive chef on building a healthful kids' menu
- Exposing kids to new flavors
Ype von Hengst, co-founder and executive chef, says Silver Diner restaurants have seen success with healthful kids' items
Anita Jones-Mueller, M.P.H., president and founder of Healthy Dining, a nutrition-related marketing and consulting firm, interviews Ype von Hengst, co-founder and executive
This interview and others can be seen at Healthy Dining’s Restaurant Nutrition News & Insights.
In 2012 you made some really impressive changes to Silver Diner's kids' menu, which I want to talk more about. So first, tell us why you are making these changes. Have they been good for your business?
Absolutely. It has been very good for our business. Our overall sales have been increasing steadily over the last few years. And we know it is because of all the health-oriented changes we have been making. Great taste and 'good for you' is fueling our business. Our guests want healthy, high-quality ingredients. And kids are really driving our business.
We surveyed about 1,000 of our customers, and 70 percent of them told us that their children decide where the family will eat. We want them to eat at Silver Diner, so we make sure we are pleasing our young guests and their parents.
So what are you doing to please kids and their parents?
We know that families want to eat out, and they want to feel good about the quality of the food they are served. That’s why we are so committed to offering high-quality food that is healthy too. I think that is our responsibility to our communities, to our kids and future generations. We have to feed them healthful food, not junk. That’s why sourcing from our local farmers is so important to us. Our customers really appreciate that.
And last year we added more Kids LiveWell menu choices to our kids' menu. We have more Kids LiveWell qualifying menu items than any other restaurant in the United States, and we are really proud of that.
I was so glad that I was able to attend your kids' tasting event at your Rockville, Md., location. That was fascinating to see the kids so excited about eating healthy. I was so surprised when the majority of the kids voted for whole grain pasta over white enriched. Tell us about the event.
We invited two groups of 15 kids each to come and taste some of the new Kids LiveWell menu choices I created. I wanted to make sure kids liked the items before adding them to our menu. And we found the new items were a big hit. We tested bison meatballs, quesadillas, macaroni and cheese with vegetables and whole grain pasta, and salmon with brown rice. The kids’ input was extremely helpful in shaping the new healthier menu.