In April 2012, Silver DIner, a full-service family restaurant chain with 15 locations in Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey, made three major changes to its children’s menu in order to make healthier items easier to choose.
- Meals were re-designed to meet or exceed nutrition standards set by the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program (59%, compared to 22% before the changes).
- Healthy side dishes became the default choice – strawberries, mixed vegetables, or side salads–were automatically included with all kids’ meals by default.
- And less-healthy choices such as french fries, soda and lemonade were removed from the menu.
NOTE: Fries and soda were still available…upon request.
What Happened Next?
- Children’s meal prices increased by $0.79 for breakfasts and $0.19 for non-breakfast meals.
- Restaurant revenue increased with yearly percent change as follows:
- 2008-2009: +1.5%,
- 2009-2010: −2.1%,
- 2010-2011: +11.1%,
- 2011-2012: +5.1%,
- and 2012-2013: +5.1%.
- Orders of healthy meals, strawberry and vegetable sides, milk, and juice increased
- Orders of French fries, desserts and soda decreased
- Total calories ordered by children decreased (684 kcal pre vs. 621 kcal post)
- Except for the kids who requested un-healthy choices (935.0 pre vs. 942.9 post)
- Chain restaurants can create healthier menus without alienating their ‘non-health-food’ patrons,
- Kids will eat healthier restaurant meals when menus are designed correctly,
- Chain restaurants can increase profits by making their menus healthier
Where do we go from here?
- If I was a restaurant owner, I would consider taking a look at the Silver Diner kids menu and use it as a template for re-working my own kids menu
- If I was a restaurant owner, I would consider applying the same menu format for the main menu as well
- As a parent, I am going to send a link to this article to the restaurants I frequent most often. The number of obese children in our society is truly horrendous and we all need to pitch in to reverse this trend.
Most people will never hear about this article, this research, this restaurant.
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