As a parent with an energetic toddler, I sometimes struggle to find restaurants that have the right balance of good food and entertainment when dining with a two-and-a-half year old. For the most part, we’ve relied on word-of-mouth, getting recommendations from other parents of the best spots. (We love Fremont Brewing Co. and The Ridge Pizza).

But now a new online service is emerging in Seattle from the folks behind Judy’s Book called KidScore that ranks restaurants based on their kid-friendliness, taking into consideration things like play rooms, changing tables and special menus.

The system is similar to Walk Score, the popular Seattle service that ranks homes on a scale of 0 to 100 based upon how close people live to schools, restaurants, transit, movie theaters and more. The similarities don’t end there, since Seattle angel Geoff Entress is a backer of both Walk Score and Judy’s Book.

KidScore’s scoresheet works much the same way as Walk Score: 90-100 gets a “kid heaven” ranking while 0-24 means kids aren’t allowed.

While Yelp and Urbanspoon sometimes list restaurants as being kid friendly, it’s sometimes tough to determine what that actually means. Just high chairs provided? Games? Kid’s menu?

The KidScore system aims to solve that, a problem that I am surprised no one has bitten off yet. “We think the world can use another rating and review site,” said Judy’s Book general manager Ali Alami.

At this point, the service is being tested in Seattle with a full launch slated for later this month. Now available on Judy’s Book, the future plan is to syndicate the scores to other sites, said Alami.

He declined to disclose specifics around how the algorithm works, though he said it does utilize reviews and feedback from users. The company also is employing researchers to make sure it has the most up-to-date information about kid-friendly restaurants.

“Although we won’t give away our all our secrets, we will say that user reviews, feedback, and information from owners all play a role in determining a KidScore rating,” they write on their Web site explaining the new service.

Here’s a look at some of the KidScore ratings for Seattle area restaurants, three of which I’ve already checked out.

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  • Matt Heinz

    Oh, man, this is awesome.  One can only go to Red Robin so many times…

  • Heidi Dietrich

    We live right by Phinney Market Pub and go there after work sometimes for drink and food. We’re still kid-less but the place is seriously packed with kids during the dinner hour. They have a play area too. I’m sure it’s great for parents of little ones!

  • Todd Hooper

    Cool idea. You could also monetize the database with hipsters by calculating a Kid Free Score. :)


    • Ali Alami

      Or a negative score :-) Actually a score of 0-25 is Kids Not Welcome so for those that want a date night away from the little ones, KidScore is just as useful.  

      The KidScore Team!

    • FrankCatalano

      While I have, and once was, a child, I’m all in favor of using an inverse Kid Score for exactly the purpose of knowing where I might find an adult-friendly restaurant. And I’m not even (or never would be mistaken for) a hipster.

  • Marcelo Calbucci

    This is great. I wish it was mobile, though.

  • Anne Martens

    On my wish list – 

    1) Add the quality of food. Phinney Market is super kid-friendly but the food is only ok. Vios is super kid-friendly and the food is excellent. Or link to / partner with Yelp for star ratings.

    2) Add bars, pubs and breweries. Because mama needs a drink.

    3) Mobile app. Duh.

  • Ali Alami

    Thanks for all the great feedback.  We have most of the suggestions on our Road-map.  Mobile is a high priority as are more categories (bars, wineries, breweries, hotels, etc…)

  • Alex

    Awesome.  Need more than just restaurants – playgrounds, museums, etc.

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