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How Restaurants Can Attract Customers With Interactive Dining Experiences

Jun 16, 2023

How Restaurants Can Attract Customers With Interactive Dining Experiences

In recent years, the rise of eatertainment – combining dining and entertainment experiences – has become increasingly popular in restaurants. With the ease of home delivery and takeout, operators are finding it more difficult to get customers off their couches and into restaurants. To combat this, restaurants and other destinations create more memorable, Instagram-worthy dining experiences focusing on entertainment, socialization, and novelty. 

Eatertainment is not a new concept and has been around since at least the 1800s when novelty was leveraged in various forms. In the suburbs of Paris in 1848, Joseph Gueusquin founded Le Grand Robinson, a restaurant constructed on top of a tall chestnut tree, inspired by The Swiss Family Robinson. As the restaurant gained popularity, many imitators followed suit, and the idea continued to capture the public’s fascination for years to come. 

There are various forms of eatertainment, and combining games with food is just one of them. In recent years, several distinctive dining experiences have gained recognition, and these can typically be classified into one of five categories. 

  • Themed restaurants:

    These dining establishments offer a fully immersive experience that transports guests to a different world. For example, a restaurant in San Francisco called Tonga Room features a simulated tropical rainstorm. 

  • Cooking classes:

    A popular form of eatertainment, cooking classes allow guests to learn new culinary skills while enjoying a social and interactive experience. These classes are often led by celebrity chefs or experienced instructors and can be themed around different cuisines or cooking techniques.

  • Dinner theater:

    This type of eatertainment combines food and beverage with a live performance, such as a play or musical. Guests can enjoy an entire evening of entertainment while dining on a multi-course meal.

  • Chef’s table:

    This is a special dining experience where guests are seated in close proximity to the kitchen and can interact with the chef while enjoying a unique menu. This intimate experience allows guests to learn more about the culinary process and enjoy personalized attention from the chef.

  • Game restaurants:

    These dining establishments combine food with interactive games and activities. Some of the activities include a variety of games like bowling, arcade games, pickleball, video games, and ping pong tables.

In the highly competitive foodservice industry, standing out is crucial. While a captivating eatertainment idea can create buzz and attract customers, the quality of the food and drinks ultimately determines repeat visits. These return customers are vital to the industry’s success.

As the pandemic continues to affect dining out, restaurants need to get even more creative to bring customers back. But they must remember that the line between innovative and gimmicky is often blurred. So, while creating a one-of-a-kind experience may be tempting, it’s important to focus on delivering quality food and drinks to ensure success in the long run.