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Restaurant City is a 2D social restaurant management game that allows players to start and run their own restaurant from the ground up. Re-arrange and design your new restaurant with a variety of decorations. Hire a complete staff made up of friends, set the daily menu, gather ingredients, and keep the customers happy. Although comparable to other games like Café World and Pet Society where players can cook up savory meals in Restaurant City it’s all about the ingredients. Players buy, earn, trade, and even grow necessary recipe ingredients to create meals. Work with or compete against neighbors for the position of the top restaurant on the block.

Starting Your Own Restaurant, the Gameplay

In Restaurant City players are in charge of their own fully functioning restaurant. Each player starts out small with several tables, chairs, and stoves. Before the game can begin users have to hire some of their Facebook friends to work for them. A quick click on their avatar and then desired job will accomplish this task. Once all of the waiters, chefs, and janitors have been assigned players are ready for business. Restaurant City has a helpful Open Hours feature that allows players to choose opening and closing hours to fit into their playing schedule. This option prevents users from having to rush and log back in simply to check on their restaurant. There are various shifts available for managers to choose from. Each shift has a coin fee. Shorter shifts earn more profits since they’re cheaper. Players can schedule their employees to work any length of time from 30 minutes to 24 hours. Employees complete tasks automatically following their assigned duties. Janitors clean up spills, waiters serve meals, and chefs stay busy behind the stoves cooking. Players take on more of a managerial role so the gameplay is fairly slow paced. Coins and XP are earned through leveling dishes, serving customers, and visiting neighbors. Players spend most of their time using strategy to boost their rank, collecting necessary ingredients, and decorating. Each restaurant has a popularity number. The more satisfied customers the higher the rating will go up. Users have to figure out how to balance the staff in a way that will serve all of the incoming customers in a timely manner. Customers who have to wait too long will walk out and decrease the restaurant’s popularity rating.

The Ingredient Hunt

Restaurant City has a very diverse menu. It’s divided into four categories consisting of a starter, main, dessert, and drink. Players can serve customers Tuna Steak with Vegetables, Russian Cappuccino, Lobster, Hamburger and Fries, Pink Lemonade, Mango Pudding, Pork and Apple Chops, Chocolate Cake, Beef Enchilada, or Strawberry Milkshake. In order to cook a variety of meals, ingredients are needed. The ingredient market is limited and very expensive. There are only three items are on sale per day for coins. The rest of the ingredients require Playfish Cash to purchase. If a player doesn’t want to spend real money for common items like water, ice, bread, butter, flour, sugar, cheese, and eggs than they have to rely on their neighbors and other methods to obtain them. Players can receive ingredients daily for free by logging in and correctly be answering the Food Quiz. The questions often vary from real life cooking techniques to food trivia. It’s quite challenging. This is a unique feature in the game that educates players in a fun way. In Restaurant City an option to a garden is available similar to the game Pet Society. Players can grow their own fresh ingredients. The garden lot expands as a user levels up. Although it’s a nice touch there is no choice in the type of seeds that you can plant. A mysterious bag of unmarked seeds will produce random spices, vegetables, or fruit when ripe. New dishes can be learned and leveled up to increase XP when all the required ingredients have been collected. Neighbors can assist in the hunt for ingredients as well.

Checking Out the Competition

In Restaurant City friendly competition and friendship work hand in hand. Players can visit their friends’ restaurants to help out or take a trip to a random street to see how other restaurant moguls businesses are operating. Visiting neighbors can earn coins, XP, and a free ingredient. Remove trash from their floor like spilled soda cans, discarded pizza slices, and banana peels by clicking on them. Sometimes their restaurant may have a nasty leak, a blazing fire, a penguin invasion, a sleeping bear scaring away customers, or giant mushrooms in the garden that requires immediate attention. The first time a player visits a new neighbor they earn one free ingredient. This makes neighbors an essential part of gameplay. Users must rely on friends to earn a significant amount of XP to level up and to receive ingredients which can be tedious at times. Players can also trade ingredients with each other by clicking the Ingredient Trade icon. For some players who do not like to depend on their friends to advance in games constantly joining neighbor adds lists and bargaining for ingredients can be exhausting. All neighboring restaurants on the street are ranked in order by popularity. This system lets players know exactly how their restaurant measures up when compared to their buddies. Restaurant City takes full advantage of its multiplayer aspects allowing users to travel to random streets with players who are not neighbors and rate their restaurants.

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

The customization in Restaurant City is exceptional. Everything can be personalized from a player’s avatar to the minuscule details in the building’s exterior. Users have the option of keeping their avatar basic or personalizing it. Give your avatar a rock star Mohawk, a Princess Leila hairdo, villain attire, or cool shades. The game has dozens of various themes to choose from including a Roadside Diner, Saloon, Moroccan, Medieval, Eastern, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Psychedelic 60s, and Victorian style. There are also some fun unexpected designs like the UFO, Zombie, Ghost, Anime, and Princess available. It’s possible for players to create any kind of restaurant they want. The necessary basics like chairs, tables, stoves, toilets, and even drink dispensers come in an assortment of customized styles. Depending on the theme or desired look users have hundreds of items that they can add to renovate their restaurant. Click and drag new patterned tile floors, colored wallpaper, arcade machines, dividers, walls, aquariums, stereos, and arcade machines. The outside of the restaurant can be redesigned also. Change the building size from a small size to a behemoth building base. Attach various roofs or use decorations like a roving spotlight, balloons, lanterns, flags, flowers, canopy, menu signs, bouncer, benches, robot chef, and a magical unicorn. A very cool feature in Restaurant City is the music player that can be customized as well. Users can change the default elevator melody that plays over and over again to a catchier tune. Choose from the classic Pineapple Overture, upbeat My Irish Heart, Asian-inspired Delicate Spring, Latin Fiesta Brothers, or the cool mellow Lounge Lizard Slide.

Final Verdict: Great

Players participate in a competitive world overcrowded with restaurants all vying for top rank. In Restaurant City users have endless possibilities for customization. There are also some very cool features that keep the game entertaining. Explore the virtual streets in search for ingredients, listen to the music player while menu planning, message friends, or test your knowledge as a foodie in one their quizzes. It goes beyond other similar games like Cafe World or Pet Society by adding more social multiplayer options like the ingredient neighbor trade system. The slower paced gameplay with the Open Hours setting for scheduling play makes it perfect for busy gamers.

Financial Skills – Opening a Bank Account

I was surprised when I asked parents to tell me the life skills they wish their kids knew, and there was a resounding request for kids to learn how to open a bank account.

Similarly, there was a huge call out for:

How to budget & balance accounts
How to write checks and pay bills
And how to start saving for retirement

It seems some of the things we take for granted are, as a result, missing from what we teach kids.

This article is the first article in the four-part series and will discuss the best and simplest way to get started with opening a bank account.

It seems easy, but there are several questions many people never think of that we’ll address in this article:

Which bank?
Checking or savings account?
Are there fees or minimum balances?
Should I get a Debit Card too?
Should I have my name on the account with my kid?

1. Choosing a Bank

When you choose a bank, there are a few criteria you’ll want to look at:

Location
Number of branches
Ease of access

The location should be convenient to your home, but also have enough branches so that – in the case of an emergency – you can get to your bank.

I opened an account with Elevations Credit Union when I was attending CU Boulder. It was convenient and credit unions are really great to bank with. However, after I graduated and moved, there were no branches around me, which made things very inconvenient. I ended up opening an account with US Bank since they are in about every King Soopers, where I do my grocery shopping.

This is especially important with kids because you don’t want them to have to drive too far just to bank.

Similarly, ease of access into the branch is important. I remember having a Norwest (now Wells Fargo) account, and getting in and out of the bank’s parking lot was terrible. I had several near-miss car accidents and dreaded even going to the bank.

2. Checking or Savings Account

As you’ll learn in the future article about saving and budgeting, there should be an account that is used for saving and investing.

That means it’s important to have BOTH a checking and savings account.

The reason a checking account is important, is so that kids can learn how to write checks, and have a designated spending account aside from a designated savings account.

Checking accounts are important for paying bills (be it online or via mail) and will give kids the opportunity to learn how to write checks. Even if check writing isn’t as prevalent as it once was, it’s still important.

I was shopping one day and realized I forgot my wallet, which had my credit cards and cash. I started to panic because I needed some food. Fortunately, I keep a couple of checks in the car and was able to save myself by writing a check… they still come in handy!

3. Fees & Minimum Balances

Some banks have fees to have an account and others don’t. Obviously get the one that doesn’t since your kid shouldn’t have a huge account. Likewise make sure there isn’t a minimum balance or a very small ($10 or less) minimum balance.

Just as important is how overdrafts are handled!

When I was in college, it never failed: my peers (who hadn’t learned how to balance an account) would routinely trigger their overdraft protection and the hefty fees that went along with it.

They would look at their balance online and it would show $10. Then they’d check it again a few days later and it was at $30.

It was the magical growing bank account; and they never wondered where the extra money came from. Until the end of the month when they had over $200 in overdraft protection fees!

I would suggest NOT getting overdraft protection and instead making darn sure they can balance their account (which we’ll cover in a future article).

4. What About a Debit Card?

Here’s my thoughts on kids having debit cards: it makes it much, much harder to balance the bank account while making it much easier to overspend and run into trouble.

Are ATM machines convenient? Yes, but I have never once used one in my entire life. Part of teaching kids life skills is to teach them to be prepared. I keep an extra $10 in cash plus a few checks in my car. It wouldn’t bother me if it got stolen.

If you’re determined that your kid gets a debit card, wait at least six months after opening their account so they can learn “the old fashioned way” and understand how the debit card affects their account when they actually start using it.

5. Should I Be On The Account Too?

I think it’s a very good idea for you to be on your kid’s first account so you can monitor their spending and make sure they don’t cause a train wreck.

It’s good to get statements so that you can use that as a learning experience to go over them with your kid and teach them how to properly dispose of them (in a shredder) so that they decrease their risk of identity theft.

Come up with a time frame or benchmarks until you pull yourself off the account and let your kid take on the responsibility of an individual account.

Opening a bank account is a huge step into a new world for kids and it should be a great experience. Walk your kids through the setup and look for the learning opportunities along the way.