In 2020, I wrote an article called “Eatertainment” for the Observer Magazine. Now more than ever, is the time to continue to spread this message. What is “Eatertainment”? My definition is: “an entertainment aspect to an business within the hospitality industry”. To be clear, in my opinion, to keep up with the everchanging restaurant scene, and separate yourself from the pack, there needs to be a component of entertainment.
Now that we are past the worst parts of the pandemic, I ask myself, “how does an operator survive in this atmosphere?” The demand for liquor licenses is at its highest, and recently an article was published by the Pittsburgh Business Times about the drastic increase in liquor license values. How do you stand out? You need to create an experience, aka, Eatertainment!
Your menu can be one-of-a-kind, your food quality can be excellent, and your patrons will remember that, but what you could be missing is the most important part of Eatertainment: interactivity. Let’s dive in.
It’s time to raise the bar and try to incorporate interactivity as an element of service, or a separate component that lives within your business and works cohesively with your food/beverage menus. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear interactivity? For me, it’s axe throwing, bowling, arcade games, duckpin bowling, miniature golf, or escape rooms. In Pittsburgh, we have venues like these all with liquor licenses. PSA, I am not saying you need to go to that level to have Eatertainment.
I spoke with one of our clients, Bank on 8th in Homestead which embodies Eatertainment. They have a speakeasy, escape rooms, axe throwing and vr entertainment all in one business. Speaking with Joey Deasy, one of the owners of Bank on 8th, he says ““We love being in the food, beverage and entertainment sector. We think the the future of going out requires all 3 for a fun night out.”
On a smaller scale, for everyday operators, I would suggest taking inspiration from your food. For example, have you ever had Table-Side Guacamole? The server comes to your table with a cart of fresh ingredients and makes the drink at your table! Do you sense the upcharge for the experience? If your establishment focuses more on cocktails, consider a craft cocktail built at the table with some flare.
Another approach to Eatertainment is to consider the atmosphere of your space. It is very common for restaurants/bars to have concrete floors, a wooden bar and industrial furniture and call it a day. No shade, but it does happen. Try to add some visual elements to your space to make it stand out to your theme. Come up with crazy ideas! Spray graffiti on the wall, use repurposed furniture, add unique lighting or bring outside inside (literally).
The last idea for Eatertainment is the classic pop up concept. There is so much talent within every city looking to grow their brand and open the doors to share their food/beverage skills with patrons. Consider reaching out to these individuals to coordinate a pop up experience at your business. Not only do you get your patrons, but their following will get to experience your business.
Eatertainment is achievable! Your business is unique and can benefit. This is your chance to stand out from the rest and evolve into its next phase. Follow me at @therestaurantbrokerpgh on Instagram to follow my journey.