Unsolicited Advice: Fig Tree should host a toddler and parent fine dining event

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[Note: This is a new column called “Unsolicited Advice” in which I provide free, high-quality ideas to businesses around our city. It’s like hiring McKinsey consultants, but free and more intelligent. If you’ve got ideas on unsolicited advice, email me.]

Can’t you just picture Fig Tree’s beautiful space packed with excited 2-year-olds eating lobster tail on white tablecloths? I can. Hear me out.

For toddler parents, it’s hard to find the time to go out on a date. And it’s almost impossible to bring your children without those judgmental stares if you decide to go somewhere that’s not fast casual.

It’s not just this city. Restaurants banning children has spiked over the last year. It’s kind of sad, but 34% of American 2-year-olds eat fast food on any given day.

I have a 3-year-old son and a 9-month-old daughter. I’m living this. And I can tell you, I’d love to try Charlotte’s hottest restaurants with them. Especially my son, who’s old enough to understand the experience.

So, when I read Fast Company’s profile on a startup trying to make dining our with a toddler less of a nightmare, I immediately thought — brilliant!

The New York-based startup, named Nibble+squeak, hosts private dining events at fancy restaurants where guests and their children can “relax and enjoy the meal, in a welcoming and worry-free environment.”

We don’t need to wait. We should do this here in Charlotte.

Fig Tree is the type of place where you’d never see a toddler. Which is exactly the reason they need to host the first event.

outside-fig-tree-charlotte-restaurant

After I got engaged, my wife and I went to Fig Tree. It’s arguably the #1 fine dining restaurant in our city. Oprah went there when she visited Charlotte. If it’s good enough for Oprah, it’s good enough for your 2-year-old, 🙂

How would Fig Tree’s toddler and parent dining event work?

Fig Tree is only open for dinner, so they should host the event as a brunch. Start it at 11:30 a.m. on a Saturday.

Sell tickets to the event online.

Adult tickets should be expensive, around $100/adult. Children’s ticket should be around $20/child. This isn’t a cheap experience.

Fig Tree should do prix fixe menu to make it easy on guests. No parents need more decisions to make.

The children’s menu should consist of bite-sized portions so that kids can try new stuff and a few children-loving staples (for backup). For example, I’d love to see my son taste a bite of Fig Tree’s famous Elk Chop or their Escargot.

Given that the restaurant is in a 1913 Craftsman-style bungalow home, Fig Tree should turn on of the rooms into a kid’s play area and hire a few babysitters just to make the rounds.

You get it: Make it very welcoming, but also make it a memorable experience when parents and children can try something new together with the fear of being judged.

The buzz alone would be worth the investment for Fig Tree, but it would also drive revenue.

It’s the type of story that every local media outlet would cover.

I’m in media and I can tell you, you can’t not cover stuff like this. The exposure would be huge.

And it would be an unforgettable experience for guests.

I’m a capitalist, so beyond just buzz, Fig Tree should sell an event sponsorship for $2,500. Parenting is a very sponsorable category.

beignets-charlotte-fig-tree-dessert

Toddlers would crush Fig Tree’s four donuts dessert served with the coffee ice cream.

If Fig Tree loves families, making money and building brand — this is a no-brainer. I’d be the first to buy a ticket. And don’t worry Sara and Greg (Fig Tree owners), my 3-year-old is now potty trained, 🙂

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Ted Williams
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Publisher, golfer, dad and magician (seriously).