Recently, I had an interesting conversation with a single man in his early twenties who recently moved to Chattanooga. He was looking for restaurant suggestions. I quickly let him know that once you start dining with kids, the things you look for in a restaurant are radically different from what you are seeking before. Pre-kids, I wanted a quiet place to eat with a beautiful atmosphere, and a decadent and inspired cuisine.
Now that I’m dining with kids, here’s what matters to me when choosing a place to eat:
1. Will other families likely be there?
2. Do you have a kids’ menu that my kid will actually try?
3. Is it affordable?
4. I will be taking my kid at least twice to the bathroom. Are they clean?
5. Do you have spill-proof cups for kids? Because a drink WILL be knocked over during the meal.
6. Can we get in an out FAST in the event of a baby meltdown?
I was recently contacted by Piccadilly Cafeteria, a restaurant chain largely based in the Southeastern U.S. that has a cafeteria-style approach. You go through a line to order your food, pay before you are seated, and then head out to the dining room with all of your food to enjoy your meal. I have never in my entire life eaten at a Piccadilly Cafeteria, so I thought it would be fun to give it a try and see if it can be a fun place to go out to eat with kids.
My entire family went out to eat together, and we brought along a mom friend of mine and her daughter, who happens to be BFFs with my daughter. As we were trying to find the restaurant (which was inside the mall in our city), my friend Stephanie observed that her directions information (I think perhaps on Google Maps?) noted that this restaurant was NOT kid friendly. I was very surprised to see that listed, especially since Piccadilly is currently promoting a fantastic special, which is that after 4pm kids’ meals are only $.99! And let me just say that the kids’ meals are very generous, including a meat, two sides a drink AND a dessert. Yes, for under a buck! Seems pretty kid-friendly to me!
The first thing I noticed, even before we got inside the restaurant, was a meal deal that was being promoted: chicken fingers or spicy cajun chicken plus 2 sides and a bread for only $4.99.
So let’s do the math really fast: if 2 adults purchased the chicken meal deal, and 2 kids got the $.99 kids’ meals, and everyone drank water, then a family of 4 could go out to eat at Piccadilly Cafeteria for just $12 plus tax and tip.
THAT IS AWESOME, PEOPLE!!!!
Now, I will say this: I have mixed feelings about bringing kids through this cafeteria line. It is very stressful, especially if you have never come to the restaruant before, to keep the line moving quickly and to understand exactly what you are supposed to be choosing for your meal. Tim and I actually both messed up and got one more side than we were supposed to, which made the overall cost of the meal creep up a bit.
But on the other hand, doesn’t this just look like a dream if you are a kid?
I will also say that I noticed the staff was particularly accommodating to us since we had children. The servers were very patient and very sweet to the kids, and extra staff was on hand to help us get our trays over to our tables. We were also rung up very quickly once we reached the end of the line. Three adults and two children ate a FEAST at Piccadilly for $31. We had those 2 extra sides, 2 extra desserts and a few drink orders in the mix. Check out what that money got us!
Yeah…just $31! We even had some leftovers that made it back home with us. And here’s a closer shot of the kids’ meal:
Her meal also included a pudding, which I forgot to include in the picture (had to keep it away from her at the start so she’d eat her dinner!). And yes, she is eating her mashed potatoes with her fingers. Gotta pick your battles, people.
My overall assessment of dining with kids at Piccadilly Cafeteria is this: it is a very kid-friendly place. They have very generous kids’ meals and they do offer some healthier choices than the chicken fingers, though I wouldn’t call their options “healthy” exactly. Their staff is very accommodating and helpful and the price was most definitely right for any family on a budget. Eating out at Piccadilly Cafeteria was fun and affordable. I’d love to see some coloring sheets and crayons made available for the kids, but other than that, I think it was pretty much perfect!
Have you ever eaten at Piccadilly Cafeteria? Would you consider it to be a kid-friendly restaurant? Do you know of any other places where you can get a meal like this for the price?
I received a gift certificate to put toward my meal expenses at Piccadilly Cafeteria in exchange for sharing my honest opinions, which I have provided.