Small Fry

Some suggestions on the best destinations when dining out with the young ones in tow.

When our daughter Olivia was born, my wife Shannon and I assumed we’d bid farewell, for a time, to the enjoyment of good restaurants. We love going out to eat; for a married couple who works all day, it’s refreshing to go out once or twice a week and have a drink, check out a new restaurant or stop by one of our local favorites.

Photo & Story by NICK VECCHIO @djromeo24

Having a kid meant that was all over, right? At least without outrageous babysitter bills? Nope!

To our surprise, we enjoy (and appreciate) eating out even more now that my daughter has joined us at the table. Some of the best advice on becoming a new parent came from a good friend, Justin Dougherty, who happens to be one of the owners of Side Bar & Restaurant. When Shannon was pregnant he pulled me aside and said, “Don’t give up your life because you become a parent… include your kids in your life as much as you can.”

I took this to heart and live by his advice almost everyday. Eating at restaurants, socializing and enjoying life has been and always will be huge priorities for our little family. I know many fellow parents who swear off eating out saying, “It’s not worth it.” Which… sometimes it’s not.

But, some days dining out can feel like a necessity. Of course we eat at home more often than we did before Olivia, but there are still many days when we finish our work and just need to get out of the house. Plus, nobody wants to clean the kitchen.

One of our favorite places to go in West Chester is good ol’ Saloon 151. I know many of you are thinking that Saloon is that place with the long lines to get in on the weekends, filled with whiskey loving folks and a packed bar, which I am not denying. But on a Tuesday evening around 6pm Saloon 151 is an entirely different, family-friendly establishment. Not only do they have high chairs, a friendly staff, plus great food and drink specials, but their children’s menu is one of the best deals in town: $8 gets your kid a drink, a meal, a side and it comes with an ice cream sandwich!

Olivia devoured her chicken fingers and fries, all while coloring on her fun children’s menu/interactive placemat, always a great distraction! We were able to enjoy our adult beverages, which were heavily discounted due to it being happy hour, and we savored our dinners without interruption.

Our server Brittany went over-the-top with catering to our girl, and we couldn’t have been happier. I highly recommend taking your little ones here and enjoying what they have to offer — just make sure to go at the right time.

When we plan it right, dining out with Olivia is often more fun for me than sharing the table with other adults. I love watching the restaurant through her eyes: seeing her stare at other people, and flirt outrageously with the little boy at the neighboring table; watching her taste new foods and experience new flavors; and revel in her being generally charming as only a tiny nugget can when there is dessert on the line.