Once colouring sheets are entered into the competition, staff at St Elmo's check each child’s name and when they come across one who isn’t a member of the Kids Club they send them a welcome note in the mail, which the kids can fill out and return for a free pizza. Children’s names are then entered into a database and their birthdays are made note of so that each year St Elmo's can send them a birthday note, which also guarantees them a free pizza.
Robbie tells me that about six months ago their computer crashed and they lost all the records of the kids already members. So far, Robbie says, they have managed to reregister about 1000 children, but the crash was a major loss and they are still trying to recover all the original members.
At St Elmo's itself they have fully built their restaurant around this child-friendly mantra, incorporating it into the decor, the menus and into various fundraising efforts they have been a part of.
In terms of decor, children who eat at St Elmo's can enjoy a completely separate experience to their parents. Along with colouring pictures and moulding their own pizza dough to be cooked they can also make use of the Kids Club Lounge or the jungle gym area. The Kids Club Lounge is complete with ten Playstation 3’s as well as ten newl- bought HD TV’s to go along with them. With many Playstation games to pick from, they’re sure to be happily occupied.
In relation to their menus, St Elmo's has set itself apart in that children have their very own menu to choose from with tasty options on offer such as “Pinocchio Pizza Face”, “Zebra Brownies”, “Kiddies Double Thick Shakes” and “Sticky Ribs and Chips”. Robbie tells me that with the separate menu they try to make kids feel special and important. Wednesdays are also special for children at St Elmo's with the ‘1 child per adult eats free’ special. Basically, he says, they “want children to feel welcome here”.
Certain fundraising efforts have also come at the hands of the St Elmo's Kids Club. Robbie tells me that they have made sponsorships at Bally Vaughn, SPCA, the Kids Classic fishing competition and they also donated to Chisipite Junior School when they were raising Anti-poaching funds. Similarly, at the pantomime last year every child that came onto stage at the end was given a coupon for a free pizza.
Filling me in on some future plans, Robbie says they are hoping to run another three-month-long colouring competition in the next couple of months, much like the one they ran earlier this year, where kids can win a prize much bigger than a free pizza. This way, kids don’t run the risk of getting bored with the usual two week colouring competitions.
St Elmo's can also be host to children’s birthday parties Monday to Sunday from 10.00am to 12.30pm and weekdays from 2.30pm to 5.00pm (excluding Tuesdays, because St Elmo's closes on Tuesdays). Robbie would also like it known that they do not take bookings on public holidays, but rather seating comes on a first come, first serve basis.
My talk with Robbie and my tour around St Elmo's has left me feeling nothing but convinced that St Elmos has set itself apart from other Harare restaurants in that it caters especially for kids in more ways than one. St Elmo's not only cater for children, but want and encourage people to bring their kids.