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Giraffe Q&A with Andrew Jacobs - Best family restaurant 2014 - WINNER

We meet the co-founder behind the 2014 Junior Design Award-winning entry

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Andrew Jacobs, Co-Founder of Giraffe

What did you love to eat the most, as a child?

Roast chicken, ice cream and smoked salmon (but not in that order). 

What do you love most about working in the world of family-friendly restaurants?

Quite often we will have a table of diners, which include grandparents, parents, children and even grandchildren! There’s nothing better than knowing giraffe is loved across all generations – from small children that get excited about our kids meals complete with diverting activity sheets and plastic giraffe stirrers to adults who come back again and again for their ‘giraffe favourites’ such as the Thai Duck Stir Fry. 

What are the highlights for your family menu this winter?

We’ve worked hard over the past 12 months to re-work our kids menu so that parents can be confident that we’re offering healthy and balanced meal options. For example our grilled chicken and salmon fillet and salad meals come with steamed veggies including ‘little tree’ broccoli and either gluten free baby baked jacket potato or sweet potato fries. We’ve also re-worked classic desserts such as our Banana Split Sundae to make them healthier (replacing the ice cream with frozen yoghurt and the sauce and sprinkles with honey and seeds).

How important is it to keep up with changing food trends?

Part of our responsibility as restaurateurs is to keep up with the food world, so of course we read everything we can and eat out regularly to stay on top of trends. If we feel its right for giraffe, some of those trends will find their way into our menu or even into the design of our restaurants. For example Mexican food has slowly been growing popularity in the past few years, so we’ve added a Mexican Chicken Burger to our menu, which is proving a big hit!

Do you taste test the menu every week?  

Of course – more accurately, almost daily.

How do you refine the menu for families?

Often, one of the biggest challenges for parents, particularly during school holidays, is keeping the whole family entertained on a budget. We try to combat this by offering family friendly deals such as our Kids Meal Deal (a mini main and drink for £5.65) which can be combined with our Lunch For Less Deal for the adults (selected main course for £6.75 Mon-Fri 12-5pm) for example. Hopefully this helps to keep the costs down, which hopefully means our customers can visit more regularly!  

Why is it important to ensure a high quality and environment for family restaurants?

As mentioned before, it’s important that every member of the family are happy and your environment reflects this. We work with interior design company Harrison to ensure that each of our restaurants are bright and colourful without feeling too ‘kiddy’. In terms of quality, that is a must – parents should have total confidence in quality for their children whilst also wanting the same standard for themselves. 

Why did you enter the Junior Design Awards?

Since opening our first restaurant in Hampstead in 1998 giraffe has grown into a nationwide group with over 50 restaurants, but hopefully we have never lost our passion in creating the perfect ‘giraffe’ environment. We entered the awards because we are proud of each and every one of our interiors – for how they have welcomed countless families over the years and how they help to communicate the giraffe story. 

What do you predict for the future of family restaurants? 

With most children not only computer literate but iphone/ipad/tablet literate – I think we will see more and more restaurants offering interactive digital activities and games within their restaurants, plus the addition of child-friendly sections of websites and apps.

Also, because of the need for speed being facilitated by apps that pay your bill, avoid queues etc, we might see family meal times becoming shorter and shorter. Fingers crossed I am wrong!   

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