Food With Entertainment (www.FoodWithEntertainment.com) is a podcast where Rohan Gupta interviews celebrities and influencers about their personal stories and achievements in the entertainment and food industry. In each episode, Rohan talks to guests that have been featured on popular TV Shows and Movies like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and more. Subscribe to the show, via iTunes .
Food With Entertainment
Sometimes offering great food just isn’t enough – especially in such a competitive industry. You need something to help you stand out.
The three basic pillars of customer experience success in the restaurant business are:
- Getting new customers to walk in the door
- Making sure their experience is a good one
- Getting these customers to return
Organizing and executing entertainment to accompany your meal service one a way that restaurateurs can address all three goals.
Events attract new customers from ALL different walks of life, and areas of your city or town, which can help diversify your customer base and fill more seats.
Creative restaurant event ideas can also help increase your social media presence. Customers are more likely to post about a fun, exclusive event they attended to show off their VIP status or fun lifestyle, than they are to post about an ordinary trip to a restaurant. Plus, if you can collect contact info from diners before or during the event somehow (online registration maybe?), you can remind them to post after the event AND make it easier to do so. Include your handles, examples of what others are saying online, and even run a social media contest. If the event ends up being a smash hit, your restaurant might become Insta-famous!
If a restaurant entertainment idea is well executed, your customers should enjoy their experience, tell their friends (word of mouth marketing), post on social media, and return for a repeat experience. All of these benefits can help expand your customer base and your sales.
The trickiest part? Coming up with a killer idea!
Here are five entertainment ideas to boost the “wow factor” at your restaurant.
1. Arcade Games
Pinball machines, PAC-MAN, Tetris… if you’re experiencing deja vu, it’s because millennials want to play the arcade games of yore.
You might remember playing these classics when you were a kid, but a new generation of foodies think it’s charming to step away from the HD for some retro fun. Toronto bar Get Well is well known for its array of great arcade games served up with some pizza and a great beer selection.
If you have the room in your restaurant or bar, consider buying a couple of cheap arcade games from eBay to occupy your customers while they’re waiting for their food. Who knows, they may stay longer – and order more drinks – just to get a high score.
2. Aerial Silks
Your capacity for aerial silks depends on the size of your restaurant, so only consider this idea if you have the space.
Aerial silks have become a popular form of entertainment in nightclubs and for special events. There’s nothing quite like watching dancers fly through the air on two pieces of rope, seemingly on the precipice of death! The spectacle definitely won’t be lost on your customers, who will be sure to walk away remembering much more than food.
3. Interactive Art
If you’re a high end restaurant who’s killing it with elite diners who have sophisticated palates, you may want to start to think beyond taste. A truly memorable dining experience taps into all five senses, and many restaurants are now incorporating otherworldly visuals and tantalizing smells into their courses to dazzle diners.
Tokyo’s Sagaya restaurant partnered with teamLab, a digital arts agency, to create an immersive dining experience for their customers. According to teamLab, “when a dish is placed on the table, the scenic world contained within the dish is unleashed, unfolding onto the table and into the surrounding space. For example, a bird painted on a ceramic dish is released from the dish and can perch on the branch of a tree that has been unleashed from a different dish.” The visual elements combined with the taste of the food offers customers a much more fulfilling experience beyond dinner.
4. Slam Poetry
Slam poetry communities have begun to thrive again, and they can draw large crowds to cafes and smaller restaurants with intimate settings. Great slam poetry invokes a sense of community between poets and listeners, giving your customers a lot to talk about over a meal.
If you do choose to host a slam poetry night, make sure to bring in some larger local names alongside some open mic time for newbies. Once you get a feel for the community, you may want to scale up and host slam competitions for regular performers. Your customers will develop a relationship with your poets in a way that will keep them coming back for more events.
5. Photo Booth
Simple, classic, and guaranteed to get you some love on Instagram. Like arcade games, retro anything is in style right now for a younger generation of people who grew up in front of screens. The classic photo booth Polaroid is a blast from the past that may, ironically, end up all over Instagram with your tagged location.
If your food is on point and you’re looking for new ways to create a memorable dining experience for your customers, entertainment options are a great way to get people talking – and coming back.
6. Trivia Night
A mainstay for any college town, having a trivia night is sure to bring in the masses looking to show off their brains, and maybe reel in a prize.
How can you get people interested in a trivia night? Here are some ideas!
- Local Celeb: Get a local celebrity to host the event, radio hosts, politicians, musicians could all help bring in customers.
- Add a Theme: Creating a fun theme to base the trivia around could be a great way to join in on the hot trend of the day like hosting horror movie trivia near Halloween, or sports trivia close to the Super Bowl.
- Offer Prizes: Everyone loves winning prizes. Offer coupons for meals at your restaurant custom winners pint glass, or kitchenware to fill seats and drive up the competition!
7. Mystery Menu Events
Don’t know what you’re getting served? How mysterious!
Loyal customers and adventurous foodies won’t be able to resist a mysterious menu. Change up your menu for one night only to offer a three to five course tasting menu at a fixed price, and wow your customers when you unveil what’s next. Everybody loves a surprise!
Brilliant Restaurant Entertainment Ideas to Bring in the Crowds
Eat in the dark
Give your customers a brand new sensory experience (and an education while you’re at it), with a blind eating evening.
Place tables together to create a sense of community. Customers eat in the dark or blindfolded and enjoy gentle music playing in the background.
The experience drops barriers and connects people powerfully. You could also get a blind charity involved and use the event to raise money for the organisation.
This idea was sparked by the Blind Cafe:
Image Credit: Seattle Globalist
Guests entering the Blind Cafe to experience eating a meal in the dark.
Pop-up art gallery
Replace the restaurant’s usual decor with pieces by local artists for diners to buy.
Set up the premises to allow guests to browse the art, cocktail in hand while browsing the menu and waiting for their food.
Image Credit: Widewalls
Example of an art exhibition-cum-restaurant
Photo booths are always popular at events and are sure to do well at many restaurants. Stock the booth with props and costumes that support your brand, to add that extra bit of fun.
Have a photographer on-site, include your logo on the photographs, and tag customers on social media for great brand exposure. These photos will be a great addition to your website, too.
Image Credit: Showtime Photo Booth
People love wine tastings.
Offer customers various wines from different parts of the world and have the wine expert discuss wine origins. Focus on finding a sommelier who can entertain guests via storytelling.
Wine tastings are also a great idea to introduce speciality menus designed to complement the wine.
Image Credit: The Wild Fig
Wine tasting at The Wild Fig Restaurant.
Craft beer tasting
Offer a special price to taste craft beer on a slow night of the week and you’ll find people swarming in to sample the craft beers and find their next favourite to enjoy at the bar.
Speciality cocktail night
Showcase an exclusive, speciality cocktail menu for one night only. Offer delicious drinks made from fresh seasonal ingredients.
Your guests will jump at the chance of tasting a cocktail they’ll never taste again.
Forget the newspaper and allow families and groups to play interactive board games.
Perhaps offer the winner a complimentary coffee or a discount on their next meal. You could also advertise game nights on slow days.
Change the decor of the restaurant dramatically to provide the experience of a themed evening.
Get waiters into character, and request guests to dress up accordingly.
In today’s culture, when so many eat-outs are done in t-shirts and jeans, people find it fun to have the opportunity to dress up.
Image Credit: Encore
Secret Kingdom theme at the Crown Palladium Ballroom.
Meet the chef
Most people would love to meet the person behind the meal. On a slow day, allow diners to meet the chef.
You could even offer a special taster menu and get the chef to speak to people about his or her culinary expertise, philosophy and the process behind each course. Chefs could also leave guests with one bonus take-home food prep tip.
Like all big cities, London is hard to get around. If you’re in zone one, everything is busy: the pavement, the tube, and of course the bars and restaurants. And if you’re not in zone one, good luck getting anywhere without a long journey and several transport changes. Getting dinner and entertainment in one place, then, makes a lot of sense. No need to race through the crowds, desperately looking for dinner. And no need to rush your dinner to make your theatre showing afterwards. Here are our favourite destinations for dinner and entertainment.
Authentic piano music bar with a Prohibition vibe
Stylish, atmospheric and above all sassy, Piano Works is so good you won’t want to leave. Amazingly, the music literally doesn’t stop, not once – each song merges into the next, creating a non-stop party atmosphere. And best of all, the tireless house musicians take requests, so you can enjoy your dinner with your favourite songs played live in front of you.
Proud Cabaret City
Gobsmacking burlesque and beats
London’s finest tribute to the Roaring ’20s, Proud Cabaret City serves you a dazzling Jazz Age menu, Prohibition-themed cocktails with real bite, and breathtaking burlesque. It’s this attention to detail which makes Proud Cabaret City so much more immersive than other flapper-era hangouts – so if you love swing, make sure you visit.
Lively blues venue with big-hitting American food
Love jazz, soul and blues music? Partial to a bit of authentic U.S. barbecue? This is the place for you. Tuck in to heaving platters of cracking ribs, juicy pulled pork and succulent brisket, while being serenaded by some of the finest jazz bands in the country. No wonder they’ve just opened a new venue in Brixton – this is a winning formula.
Glamorous restaurant with on-stage performers
One of London’s most infamous diners since opening in the 1920s, Quaglino’s has seen more than its fair share of big nights over the years. A true favourite of the gentry and the famous, the Queen became the first reigning monarch to eat in a public restaurant when she dined here in 1956. It’s not hard to see why. Not only does it serve top-notch food – try their brunch with some bottomless bubbles, it’s to die for – but there’s live entertainment, too. A glittering stage dominates the basement, featuring DJs and live bands all through the day and night.
Intimate and comfortable cinema with great food
Cinema in London is undergoing a makeover – and we couldn’t be happier. A new class of picture houses are taking film night to the next level, giving people better treats, seats and big eats while they watch their favourite blockbusters. Having long been a key pillar in Balham’s nightlife, The Exhibit is now leading the way towards better cinema. Indulge in their excellent dinner menu before settling down on the plush leather sofas in the intimacy of their cosy screening room. Perfect.
Home of all things Brazil
When it comes to entertainment and fun, Brazil has to be high up on anybodys list. And, with a mouthwatering array of steaks and seafood, their grub isn’t too bad either. Guanabara combines both to brilliant effect. Expect dancers, DJs, carnivalesque celebrations and much more – all after you’ve tucked into some grilled chicken and a couple of caipirinhas.