New eatery offers in-house child care

Newly opened Landon’s Gourmet Kitchen in San Marcos has a farm-to-table menu, a top-selling falafel plate and a healthy selection of local beers. But it’s what’s offered in the restaurant’s back room that could make it the envy of parents countywide.

Landon’s is believed to be the first restaurant in San Diego County with supervised onsite child care. The 300-square-foot play room has games, books, toys and even its own children’s menu for kids who’d rather eat with their friends than their parents in the next room.

Landon’s is the dream project of Rancho Peñasquitos residents Charlynn and Garrett Mann, who came up with the concept after the birth of their 6-year-old son, Landon.

Charlynn said that after her son was about 18 months old, it became difficult to take him to restaurants because he required constant attention, and hiring a babysitter made the evening difficult and prohibitively expensive.

“There was just so much guilt,” she said. “If we took him out to eat with us, we felt bad when we weren’t focused on him and we felt even worse if we left him at home. This was a niche that we saw nobody was doing.”

Landon’s, located in the former Bruno’s Italian Restaurant space in Old California Restaurant Row, offers staffed child care during most operating hours, which include dinner six nights a week, weekend brunch and lunch on Fridays. The cost is $8 per hour per child, with discounts for families with multiple children. The service is available for children ages 1 to 7.

Since the restaurant opened Sept. 25, Charlynn said business has grown steadily, with as many as 18 children in the play room on busy weekend nights.

Both of the Manns have day jobs. Charlynn is an accountant for a software development firm. Garrett works in commercial development. The restaurant’s kitchen is being managed by executive chef Christophe Douheret, who has more than 30 years of restaurant experience, including 10 years as executive chef at the Morongo Casino Spa & Resort in Banning.

Douheret said his menu has a touch of his native France and is focused on fresh, local ingredients, including eggs and dairy products from Hollandia Dairy in San Marcos, produce from Solutions Farms in Vista and breads from Sadie Rose Baking Co. in San Diego.

Menu offerings include soups, entree salads, tartines (savory tarts), sandwiches, burgers, stuffed avocado dishes and plated entrees including sole meuniere, fish and chips, eggplant ragout and steak frites.

The children’s menu includes mac ‘n’ cheese, grilled chicken strips and a fresh-baked cookies platter.

All condiments, sauces, soups, marinades and even a Boursin-style cheese are made in-house and the menu changes constantly. Douheret said he cooks in the Eastern French style without heavy sauces and creams to mask the seasonal flavors of the ingredients.

He’s a fan of Moroccan and Middle Eastern spices, which he’s testing in new menu items each week. One of the top-selling items on the dinner menu is his falafel plate, with house-made harissa sauce.

“I’m experimenting with different dishes to see what people like. Some things we’re adding to the menu and others we’re taking off. We’re taking baby steps to understand the market,” he said.

Landon’s is a quick-service restaurant where diners order at the cashier station and their food is delivered to the table. Full table service is offered at the bar and for parties of seven or more.

Charlynn said the counter-ordering concept is more popular with younger diners who are accustomed to the new style of casual dining, but this segment of the market is also more likely to have small children, so there haven’t been too many disappointed diners.

Charlynn is now building an events calendar that includes events like family bingo nights and children’s crafts and wine tastings for adults.

Landon’s Gourmet Kitchen

What: Farm-to-table restaurant with onsite, supervised child care.

Where: Old California Restaurant Row, 1020 W. San Marcos Blvd., San Marcos

Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays (lunch). 5-8 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. 5-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (dinner). 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (brunch). Closed Mondays.

Child care: The supervised play room is open all operating hours except during lunch service Tuesday-Thursday. Cost is $8 per hour per child (ages 1 to 7). Second child in same family is $4 per hour.

Phone: (760) 509-2287

Online: landonsgourmetkitchen.com

pam.kragen@sduniontribune.com

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