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Eating out gets expensive when you have kids, or a daughter like mine who only nibbles at her meal. Even if mini-diners stick to tater tots and chicken nuggets, those meals can add up.
The Toledo family of Fresno restaurateurs know the challenges. They have fed generations of families since they started Toledo’s Mexican Restaurant 26 years ago. And they are experiencing it firsthand as their own family grows.
“We know people love to go out to eat dinner. It’s a real treat. It’s a real experience. Also, it’s a little pricey sometimes,” said Carmen Toledo, restaurant sales manager, who has one son. “We know not everyone has disposable income, especially people who have multiple children.”
In 2013, Toledo and her brothers, Jesse (who has five daughters) and Andrew, started a “kids eat free night” on Wednesdays. It was a way to help families still recovering from the recession, a way to help families who were on the go midweek, and a way to promote family time, Toledo said.
One of many signs around the restaurant promoting the special kids-eat-free night on Wednesdays at Toledo’s Mexican Restaurant, Oct. 25, 2017 in Fresno. The Toledo family would traditionally gather for dinner together on Wednesdays, and in 2013 they began a new tradition of offering free kids dinners on Wednesdays to help families make ends meet.
Wednesday has for years been the Toledo’s family dinner night. You might still see members of the family eating together at one of their four restaurants.
Toledo’s isn’t the only restaurant offering bargains on kids’ meals. Here are four local restaurants and some national chains that have kids-eat-free or discount nights.
1. Antonio’s Mexican Restaurant. Kids 12 and under eat free between 3 and 9 p.m. Mondays with an adult entree. The Little Tony Special gives your child a choice of a taco, bean burrito, enchilada or cheese quesadilla, with rice, beans and a soda. Don’t like rice and beans? Get grilled cheese, a hamburger, corn dog or chicken strips with fries and a drink.
Locations: 7959 N. Blackstone Ave., Fresno and 605 W. Herndon Ave., Clovis.
2. Ginza Asian Bistro. Kids 10 and under eat free Mondays through Thursdays at this Asian fusion restaurant. Mom and dad can dine on sushi while the kids eat lo mein noodles, chicken or shrimp tempura, sweet or sour pork, orange chicken or mixed veggies in brown sauce. Dishes are served with fries and pork dumplings.
Location: 7845 N. Palm Ave., Fresno.
3. Sequoia Brewing Company. Families have about another month to take advantage of Sequoia’s kids-eat-free night. Little Loggers 11 and under eat free after 4 p.m. Tuesdays until Dec. 1. The kids menu includes a burger and fries, chicken strips, cheese quesadilla, grilled cheese, cheese pizza or rotelli with marinara sauce.
Locations: 777 E. Olive Ave. and 1188 E. Champlain Drive, Fresno
Carmen Toledo taps out an order for kids meals featuring the names of the family’s children on kids-eat-free night at Toledo’s Mexican Restaurant, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017, in Fresno. The Toledo family would traditionally gather for dinner together on Wednesdays, and in 2013 they began a new tradition of offering free kids dinners on Wednesdays to help families make ends meet.
4. Toledo’s Mexican Restaurant. Kids 10 and under eat free from 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays at all four locations. The kids plates were once named after Carmen, Jesse and Andrew Toledo, whose parents started the business. Now, the six meals are named for their children. Pick from a taco, quesadilla, enchilada or burrito plate with beans and rice. Danni’s Plate is a small bowl of the restaurant’s albondigas soup with rice and tortillas. No beans and rice lovers? Gabbi’s Plate has chicken fingers.
Locations: 367 E. Shaw Ave., 7315 N. Blackstone Ave., 6737 N. Milburn Ave., all in Fresno, and 1125 Shaw Ave., Clovis.
5. National chains. We love our chains, and several in town have kids dine-in specials or free nights throughout the week. Here’s a list:
Buffalo Wild Wings, 3065 E. Shaw Ave. and 3331 W. Shaw Ave. Kids 12 and under eat for $1.99 from 11 a.m. to close Wednesdays.
Cafe Rio Mexican Grill, 242 East River Park Circle, Fresno. Kids get a free cheese quesadilla with purchase of adult entree.
Denny’s, 30 E. Herndon Ave., 530 S. Clovis Ave., 1110 E. Shaw Ave., all in Fresno. Kids 12 and under eat free after 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays with an adult entree.
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, all locations. Kids 12 and under eat free Sundays with a $10 adult purchase.
Firehouse Subs, 128 W. Nees Ave., Suite 101, Fresno. Kids eat free every day with purchase of medium sub combo.
BoNhia Lee: 559-441-6495, @bonhialee