For parents of young children who want to dine out at upscale restaurants with the entire family, the conundrum has always been simple:
Option one: Go out and risk facing the glares and nasty remarks of diners who feel that young children have no place in their favorite eating establishment. Or…
Option two: Don’t go out to eat at an upscale restaurant at all. Instead, settle for yet another night in … or go to Chuck E. Cheese — yet again — where they will be forced to nosh on sub-par food.
In all, most parents of young children consider their choices to be very undesirable — until now.
Enter option number three: Giggles N’ Hugs, a Los Angeles-based restaurant that has managed to combine the best of both worlds for families. Founded by Joey Parsi and his wife, Dorsa, after a disastrous night out with their then 3-year-old and 6-month-old children, the two realized there was a void for those who wanted to go to a decent restaurant with their kids.
“I was appalled that we took our kids to a restaurant where we had to turn to our 3-year-old and say, ‘Be something other than a child,'” said Joey Parsi.
With that, the gem of an idea was planted for the couple — create a space that included wholesome, organic food in an atmosphere that is accepting of children — one that was fun and casual, where kids could interact with parents and each other.
In addition to freshly prepared, nutritious meals (think tilapia fish sticks, for instance) the restaurant is staffed by team members who keep the kids busy with creative activities and entertainment from puppet shows to discos and outfit certain locations with a plethora of toys, such as a pirate ship and a princess castle — all of which are cleaned thrice daily by its staff.
Since its 2008 debut, the restaurant now has three locations and has become a hot spot for L.A.’s most prestigious families, whose clientele reads like a who’s who of Hollywood, including Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Garner, Ben Affleck and Mark Wahlberg.
“Many of the major A list celebs are customers and have had their children’s parties at Giggles N’ Hugs,” says Joey.
As for its future, the couple say they envision something akin to the play space Gymboree, in which the Giggles N’ Hugs brand can be attached to more than just the restaurant. They also plan to expand from three locations to hundreds of franchises and company-owned spots around the world.
“We’re now branching out into a kids’ clothing line, and into a kids’ frozen foods line,” says Joey. “The possibilities are endless.”
For more information, visit www.gigglesnhugs.com.