In these tough economic times, a night out at a restaurant with the family is something many people skip these days. But the Richmond areas has dozens of local restaurants that offer kids eat free nights to help make the trip less expensive.
Our local champion is Spinnaker's Restaurant in Midlothian -- home of the flowerpot bread.
"The owner of the restaurant was big about children and is a big family man," said manager Jeremy Krebs. "He just wanted to go that aspect of it and do something nice for the community."
Kids 12 and under can eat free all day Mondays through Thursdays from the kid's menu at their Chesterfield Towne Center location -- a deal that Spinnaker's has offered for 20 years.
"Children are the diners of the future," Krebs said. "I have several friends who I met here through the restaurant who remember coming here when they were 6, 7, 8 years old.
"You know we've been here for 22 years. They still come in to this day -- that a good reason to keep it going."
Home of the famous bathtub salad bar, The Fan District's ever-popular Strawberry Street Café is the place for kids to go for free eats -- Wednesdays, after 5 p.m.
The restaurant has offered the kid's night special for about two years, said chef and owner Ron Joseph.
"We saw the downturn in the economy, we figured we'd try and offer families a way to get out of the house without a lot of money," Joseph said. "I've got two kids, so I know how important it is."
Another local favorite, River City Diner has two locations that offer Kids Eat Free night -- in the North Side at Parham and Interstate 95 and at the Shops at Bellgrade in Chesterfield.
"The parents like it because they get to come out a little bit cheaper, the kids are kind of occupied," said Jeff Fisher, manager at the Parham River City Diner.
Every Wednesday night, 5 p.m. until closing, two children under 12 can order free from the kid's menu with every adult entrée. Kids can enjoy the retro atmosphere, breakfast served all day and delectable items from the desert menu.
There are more great local options and many chain restaurants in the Richmond area that offer kids eat free specials, so see the list linked at right.