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National Restaurant Association - A wild concept: healthy kids’ meals

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A wild concept: healthy kids’ meals

When the Rainforest Café chain joined the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell initiative in 2013, its goal was to increase the number of healthful children’s choices at its 28 restaurants. Keith Beitler, senior vice president and COO for the specialty restaurant and amusement divisions of Landry’s Inc., recently shared some insights on what’s happened since then.

Why did you get involved in Kids LiveWell?

Being a popular, family-oriented concept, we wanted to accommodate the families we serve every day. After feedback from our diners and responses received through a focus-group study, we knew Kids LiveWell was the right choice for us.

What are some of the biggest changes you've made so far?

We’ve added fruit, vegetables and more drink options to our children’s menu, including 2 percent milk and apple juice. We also started offering grilled chicken with side items, such as steamed vegetables, applesauce and fresh fruit. One thing we’ve noticed is that kids are ordering at least one healthy menu item ‑ on their own!

How do you come up with healthful options that kids will like?

Our goal is to create healthier alternatives that not only please kids’ taste buds, but also their parents. We know many children are choosing healthier toppings for their pasta. Before, we only offered cheese. Now they are really enjoying adding olive oil or marinara sauce.

What are the rewards of doing this?

We are accommodating our guests’ needs and offering kids healthful alternatives they want to eat.

What lessons have you learned so far?

We’re constantly looking for ways to better serve the families who dine with us. We’re listening to our guests, management and our employees, and sharing their comments and suggestions with our executive team.

Are you planning to add more healthful options?

We’re continuing to conduct research and educate ourselves in the latest industry trends. We want to ensure that Rainforest Café remains at the forefront of a wide range of dining options, including healthful ones.

What advice can you give to others planning healthful items?

Listen to your guests and give them what they’re looking for. Everyone is becoming more aware of and knowledgeable about healthful eating.

Birthday to highlight kid nutrition

Learn more about Kids LiveWell

Pictured from top right: Keith Beitler, a Rainforest Cafe restaurant and the Rainforest kids' menu

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