Dining A La Kid

How many times
have you opened your email to find your fellow moms asking for recommendations
for good, kid-friendly restaurants in your neighborhood?  Or how often are you across town with your
family, wishing you knew of a nearby restaurant with a kids menu? Whether
planning ahead or already out-and-about town, parents find themselves clueless
when the need to feed hits. That’s when MiniMunchers comes to the rescue.

Carla Sullivan,
a mom of three, founded MiniMunchers.com to take the guesswork out of city
dining. This one-stop website lists city restaurants with a separate children’s
menu and judges their kid-friendliness based on various criteria: whether the
restaurant has a stroller-accessible entrance, highchair availability, a varied
menu, children’s cups, a bathroom with a changing station, crayons or other
entertainment, and timeliness of service and value.

“I am passionate
about going out to eat with my husband and my kids…and I realized that there
really wasn’t a site with all of (this kind of) information that is dedicated
to (people with) children.”

Before becoming
a mom, Sullivan was a television reporter in the Midwest and later moved onto working in public
relations on the East Coast.  After
starting her family with her husband, Bob, she teamed up with Molly Snyder of
Metropolitan Moms—an organization that plans cultural events
for moms and kids—to be more involved in parenting circles, and later
decided that she was ready for something of her own.

restaurant that has a review, has been reviewed by me or by me with a child or
two or three,” says Sullivan.  She even
posts the kid’s menu on the MiniMunchers site, so you can order as soon as you
sit down.

A restaurant’s
rating is made in the form of crayons –1 crayon being the worst and 4 the
best.  A broccoli rating means it’s a
total dud, but “we haven’t had a broccoli restaurant yet,” Sullivan

gives you the option of searching for a restaurant by price, cuisine,
neighborhood or destination.  So, for
example, if you’re near the Children’s Museum with your kids and craving
pan-Asian, MiniMunchers will tell you to head to Fatty Crab. It’s as easy as

Sullivan has
also enlisted “expert munchers”— experienced professionals in the field—to
contribute to her site.  For example,
Chef Samuel Branch, owner of Taste 1 Inc., a personal chef service, offers a
gluten-free recipe for coconut crusted tofu nuggets with mango ketchup that
will make your mouth water. Similarly, chef and owner of Beacon Restaurant,
Waldy Malouf, offers up a crowd-pleasing recipe for thin crusted pizza with
four cheeses and basil.

Another plus is
the “goodie bag” section of the site. Every Friday, a new, exclusive deal or discount is made available for
child or mommy products.  Past deals have
ranged from markdowns on car seat covers and children’s clothing, to jewelry
and restaurant coupons.

currently focuses on Manhattan and hopes to expand her site to include
the other boroughs. In addition to
managing her own website and presence on Facebook and Twitter, she’s a guest
blogger for a number of related sites.

“It really is
neat that I’ve gotten a loyal following that is using the site and giving me
tips on new restaurants or closings or (telling me) about special events.  It’s really been a great experience, and I
think a lot of it has to do (with the fact that) I have a little ‘street cred’
given that I’m a mom, too.”

4 Kid-Friendly
Restaurant Picks From Carla Sullivan

Blue Smoke in Gramercy. “It
has a really nice varied menu that is reflective of their adult menu. The kids
get cookie dough to decorate and they bring it back to you in a goodie bag to

Moomah in Tribeca. “Kids love the art projects they can do at this creative space while
they eat, and moms can have a glass of wine.”

Landmarc in Columbus Circle
“It has the best children’s menu I’ve ever seen in a
restaurant—everything from ‘ants on a log’ and ‘green eggs and ham,’ to filet
mignon, to hamburgers and hot dogs.”

Carmine’s in Times Square. “The portions are huge and of great
quality; you can get one appetizer and one entrée for a family of four. And the
staff is so welcoming.”

For more
kid-friendly restaurant picks, visit minimunchers.com.