Today’s Brunch Special is courtesy of Lisa Greenwald, co-founder of Chewbeads and Juniorbeads, necklaces for adults and kids that are safe for kids to chew on. Lisa lives with her husband (and co-founder), Eric, and kids, Benjamin (almost five) and Jordan (almost two), in the West Village, her neighbourhood for the past eight years.
Tell us about Chewbeads and Juniorbeads
Chewbeads was started shortly after my son Benjamin was born. He used to put all of my necklaces in his mouth. I knew that developing a necklace that was safe to chew on was a great idea, so I researched materials that were safe for babies and landed on silicone (commonly used in pacifiers and nipples). After several rounds of samples and revisions, we placed an order for the Holiday 2010 season and we started out receiving and shipping the beads right out of our apartment. We’ve since moved into a small office and outsourced our shipping and fulfillment to a company in New Jersey.
As for Juniorbeads, we started getting a ton of emails and pictures from our moms showing us how much their older kids also loved Chewbeads. They loved accessorizing as much as their moms, except that the Chewbeads were a bit long for them to wear. We decided to introduce a line just for the kids, making them 10 inches shorter, designing some bright vibrant color combinations, and adding a glow-in-the-dark line. Plus, because they are made with the same non-toxic silicone, it’s okay if they put them in their mouths!
On to the food! Your kids are almost five and two. At what age did you start taking them out to eat in restaurants?
We pretty much started taking them out to eat immediately. Babies are the easiest to take out, (so go out as much as you can when they are still in the infant car seat!), and we’ve found the hardest age is definitely around 2 (Jordan’s age)—they sit still for as long as it takes for them to eat and that’s it! After that, it’s pretty rough getting them to stay still (at least with boys!).
How do you handle eating out with multiple kids?
Benjamin is pretty good at this point, so we try to focus on taking turns entertaining Jordan. We always try to bring something for each of them to do, so we’ll bring some sort of game/entertainment and toy. As soon as we sit down we usually ask for bread and butter, as this usually gets their attention. Benjamin always likes to go to the bar himself and ask for a Sprite with cherries (this usually is pretty entertaining, as most bartenders aren’t sure what to make of him).
Any recent dining experiences you’d perhaps prefer to forget?
I recently had a meal with Jordan that ended with him splayed out on the floor pretty much asking to go to bed!
You live in a such a great neighbourhood for restaurants. What are your fave local places to eat out with the kids?
We love Malaparte and Bakehouse. Malaparte is sort of our go-to spot for Sunday night dinner. The owners are amazing and so accommodating to our kids. Bakehouse is great for brunch, especially if you’re meeting friends. They have big tables and, for the West Village, it’s pretty spacious and stroller-friendly—plus, the food is delicious.
Your fave spot to stop for treats?
We love Milk and Cookies—most amazing ice cream sandwiches (pick your cookies, pick your ice cream, everyone is happy).
Do you have any eating out traditions with your family?
We do go to Malaparte almost every Sunday—I think we’ve had everything on the menu, it’s amazing! In the summer, we go to Soho House on weekend mornings for a family swim and some breakfast.
Fave spot to go for special occasions or events?
During college football season, we try to meet up with friends at a local restaurant called Dublin 6. They have all the games on, a big, open space in the back, and they are happy to have the kids around (they’re located across the street from Bleecker Street Park, so they have to like kids!).
Number one tip for other parents when eating out with kids?
Just relax, and don’t think the meal is going to be peaceful and calm. Go with the flow and try and keep the kids entertained and full. Engage them in the meal whether it be asking for more bread, water, or a new spoon! If they are still at the age when you are holding them, definitely wear Chewbeads! It will keep them entertained and quiet, I swear!
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!