Taking kids to restaurants is annoying. There are obviously potential behavioural issues but that is true pretty much no matter what you do with kids. The problem with restaurants in particular is that they make it hard to order for children to get something that everybody will be happy with. Even restaurants like McDonalds don't make it simple for kids to choose their food because the choices are all laid out on a screen near the ceiling in words kids usually can't decipher anyway. Adult restaurants are annoying because they usually don't have kids portions and it is hard to offer choice to children when they don't have the necessary context to understand what various food items are called. I know what to expect when I order rigatoni, ribs, pad thai, or udon noodles but Elli does not. Enter Montana's:
This is exactly what a kid's menu should look like. A clear four step process where the kid can look at the items on the menu and make choices they are happy with. Admittedly the menu items themselves are heavily weighted to the meat and starch end of things but we are talking about a restaurant that focuses on the twin themes of cowboys and ribs so you aren't going to see a plethora of vegetarian options. This is also great because the kid doesn't have to sort through a bazillion options or be confused about what the words mean; they can choose things as easily as an adult can and feel good about being in charge of their meal.
Elli was happy because she got to pick her own meal and she knew what was coming instead of guessing. She was also happy because the meal ended with a ridiculous dessert containing three separate mini ice cream cones. Heck, the price was even good and it came served in the back of a cardboard toy truck. I would have preferred that dessert not be included in the baseline meal; getting the family to sit around at the end of the meal while the child eats sugar is good for Montana's dessert sales and bad for humanity unfortunately.
Somebody somewhere should win a design award for this. Simple, easy, and everybody involves in the process likes it. Normally I wouldn't pick out something so straightforward to wax eloquent about but having been in a ton of restaurants with Elli and seeing just how frustrating they are I gotta give credit where credit is due. This really emphasizes how good design can make problems that seem systemic and intractable quite obsolete.