4 Eatertainment Trends That Get Customers in the Door

4 Eatertainment Trends to Drive Foot Traffic

The technology era has allowed information sharing to sky-rocket. More than ever, people are sharing details about their social lives including where they are, who they’re with, and what they’re doing. Today’s connected consumers want to have an emotional connection with the places they eat, drink, and work and many of them want to share it with the world through social media and other channels.

If your restaurant can compelling experiences that your customers want to share and make sharing these details exciting and enticing (i.e., “share-worthy”) you can leverage free exposure from customers who share their experiences — queue “eatertainment.”

What is “Eatertainment?”

“Eatertainment” is a new buzzword applied to an old concept. It’s the marriage of the traditional dining-out experience with games, live entertainment, and participation in social activities. The key to “eatertainment” is providing an equal emphasis on food, drink, and fun. A bowling alley or live sports game isn’t necessarily “eatertainment,” as there’s more emphasis on the entertainment aspect.

“Eatertainment” establishments date back to concepts like Chuck E. Cheese, Dave and Buster’s, and other eateries with a hefty assortment of fun activities. Due to the competitive nature of social media, more and more “eatertainment” trends are gaining traction to get customers in the door and are re-shaping the traditional restaurant or bar experience.

Here are four of the largest “eatertainment” trends that are taking hold of the restaurant industry:

Game Nights

The mid-week boredom onset isn’t a fan favorite for anyone who works the traditional nine to five. Restaurants, bars, pubs, and grilles are continually looking for new and creative ways to bring customers in during slower times of the week.

Game nights have proven to be a draw for customers while being a financial boost for the host. Trivia Night, Poker Night, Karaoke Competitions, Dart Tournaments, and other creative, competitive activities have taken the industry by storm, yielding a substantial return.

The Press Restaurant in Claremont, California has hosted a trivia night every Tuesday for about two years. In a report with Food Newsfeed, General Manager Sarah Diaz mentions “we make more during the two hours of trivia than we do the rest of the day.” She attributes this to customers coming in larger groups to compete, contributing to higher food and beverage bills.

Atypical Live Entertainment

Live music and DJ’s certainly draw a crowd. However, atypical live entertainment is quickly evolving as a way to get people in the door and maintain a competitive edge. Drag shows, open mic nights, and other shows and viewing specialties are being deployed as a way for restaurants to put fun into the customer experience.

Medieval Times, a more extreme example, shows that unique “eatertainment” is a tried-and-true method of getting people in the door. Medieval Times pairs historically prominent medieval knight games, pageantry, and falconry with a three-course meal, seamlessly creating one unique experience. Visitors to Medieval Times numbered250,000 a year to each franchise, often selling out the 1300-seat capacity that stretches over 110,000 square feet. The cost of tickets is $66 for adults and $46 for children. The “eatertainment” giant puts on a spectacle for 2.5 million customers annually throughout all their locations.

Backyard BBQ Games

In a bid to create more engagement among patrons, fight for brand positioning, and increase the weekend rush, restaurants and eateries have introduced a variety of backyard BBQ games as part of their core offering. Options include cornhole, ring toss, card games, checkers, large Jenga, pool, beer pong, and other traditional games commonly found at family reunions or cookouts. These activities allow visitors to participate in fun, friendly competition while enjoying their food and drinks.

In a New York Times interview with Ben Ward, owner of Good Co. Restaurant and Bar in New York, he talked about introducing cornhole to patrons when it opened in 2010.

“I didn’t want this to be a regular bar where people sit around and drink, I wanted activity-based games,” he said. “People don’t come here originally for cornhole, but a lot come back because of it.”

Arts and Crafts Events

Hosting mid-week arts and crafts events is a perfect way to break up the lull and offer patrons the opportunity to participate and bring home a tangible item. Paint and Sip, Christmas Mug Painting, Ornament Decorating, Cocktail Making, and Succulent Garden Arranging are examples of popular events hosted by restaurants and bars to engage with their customers. They provide a lower-key stimulus that offers a break from the Netflix and Grubhub mid-week routine.

Wrap up: Your Competitive Edge with Eatertainment

As restaurant competition grows fierce and more eateries look for ways to carve out their share of the market, offering a means of entertainment to enhance dining experiences is inevitable. Outside of helping to maintain a favorable industry market share, “eatertainment” is a trend that leverages social technology to increase brand exposure and grow your bottom line: Enhancing the customer experience to get more people to your door.