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.