At some places, the adult menu is full of delicious and creative food – and the kids are stuck with neon-orange mac and cheese from a box and chicken nuggets fresh from the freezer. Not so at Zingerman's Roadhouse. Which is no surprise, given their heritage as part of a community of businesses centered around well-sourced, well-prepared food.
"We encourage really good eating at any age," says manager Tabitha Mason. "It's important to us to be a place families can come, and be someplace that adults can enjoy with their kids."
Children's food selections are geared towards kids' palates but hold to the same quality as the grownup side of the fence.
For instance, macaroni and cheese is created from scratch with real American cheese, while those nuggets are made from locally sourced, free-range poultry. Parents, meanwhile, can enjoy a wide variety of casual fare like burgers and barbecue, all made from meat and cheeses that have regional roots, too, and are made with care – washed down with Michigan beers or wines.
Mason herself is a mom of two boys, ages 5 and 3, who love coming to the roadhouse. It's a casual environment, with wooden tables that easily accommodate family groups and colorful posters on the walls. A fun activity for kids is to do a scavenger hunt for different types of salt and pepper shakers (this eatery has a collection of more than 15,000!).
A big part of the Zingerman's ethos is responding to guests' needs, no matter how old they are, Mason says.
"We teach our servers about talking to all people the way they want to be talked to, whether adults are introverted or extroverted – or, when talking to kids, not just assuming they won't talk back. It is about finding out those little things that make guests feel special."