Hospitality Matters: The Rise of Entertainment Dining
By Rohit Sachdev
Monday, 20th March 2023

The food and beverage industry is constantly evolving, and one trend that has gained significant traction in recent years is entertainment dining.

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing restaurants to adapt to the new normal, restaurants that offer an entertainment component are becoming increasingly popular, particularly among Millennials and Generation Z customers.

In this article, we will explore the concept of entertainment dining, its appeal to younger demographics, and the benefits and challenges of offering this type of experience in restaurants.

Impact of COVID-19 on the Food and Beverage Industry:

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the food and beverage industry, with many restaurants struggling to stay afloat amidst lockdowns and restrictions. However, with the gradual lifting of restrictions, restaurants have had to find new ways to attract customers.

This is where entertainment dining has emerged as a popular trend, as it offers a unique and engaging experience for customers.

What is Entertainment Dining?

Entertainment dining is a concept that combines dining with various forms of entertainment, such as live music, interactive performances, and immersive experiences. It offers customers a unique experience that goes beyond just eating out – to surprise customers delightfully and has become increasingly popular among Millennials and Generation Z customers who value experiences over material possessions.

Restaurants that offer entertainment dining come in a variety of forms, from Teppanyaki to dinner theater experiences, to immersive pop-up events. Some popular examples include Bagatelle, a lifestyle restaurant chain that is known for its energetic ambiance, with live music and DJs creating a festive atmosphere for diners. The interior design features bright and colorful decor, with signature pink and blue tones, chandeliers, and ornate mirrors. The brand has gained popularity among celebrities and socialites, who frequent the restaurant for its luxurious ambiance and lively atmosphere.

Another example, is Benihana, the Teppanyaki chain which has gained a resurgence following the entertainment dining trends where chefs cook food on a flat iron grill in front of the diners, performing tricks and displaying their culinary skills while doing so.

Most recently, Soho Hospitality, a restaurant group based out of Bangkok, Thailand introduced its latest concept Yankii Robatayaki and Bar in Bangkok, a "restaurant as theatre" Japanese restaurant. In a traditional Robatayaki setting, guests are seated around a large open grill, known as a Robata. The Robata is the centerpiece of the restaurant, and it's used to cook a variety of skewered items. Yankii has a lively and energetic atmosphere, which includes shouting and boisterous conversations among the staff and guests. This is an integral part of the dining experience and adds to the restaurant's overall ambiance.

Why Entertainment Dining is Popular among Millennials and Generation Z Customers?

Millennials and Generation Z customers are known for their love of unique experiences, and entertainment dining offers just that. These younger demographics are more likely to prioritize experiences over material possessions and value opportunities to share unique experiences with friends and family. With social media playing a significant role in their lives, these customers also appreciate Instagrammable moments and shareable experiences.

According to a study by Eventbrite, 78% of Millennials would rather spend money on experiences than material possessions, and 55% of Millennials attend live events or experiences to share on social media. Similarly, a study by Accenture found that 60% of Generation Z customers prefer experiences that are immersive and interactive.

Benefits of Offering Entertainment Dining in Restaurants:

Restaurants that offer entertainment dining can reap several benefits, including attracting and retaining customers, increasing revenue, and diversifying their offerings. By offering a unique experience, these restaurants can differentiate themselves from their competitors and build a loyal customer base. Additionally, entertainment dining can help restaurants increase revenue by charging a premium for the experience factor.

Challenges and Considerations for Restaurants Offering Entertainment Dining:

While offering entertainment dining can be a lucrative business model – it is not without its challenges. The cost of producing and staging performances can be high, and restaurants must ensure that the quality of food and service is not compromised by the entertainment component. Entertainment dining is also not for everyone, and some demographics may be put off by the entertainment component which can make conversation challenging at times.

Entertainment dining has emerged as a popular trend in the food and beverage industry, offering customers a unique and engaging experience that goes beyond just eating out. Millennials and Generation Z customers in particular, are drawn to this type of experience, and restaurants that offer entertainment dining can reap several benefits.

However, it is important for restaurants to carefully consider the programming of offering this type of experience, and to ensure that it is of high quality and not a detractor for its customers.

Rohit Sachdev is the CEO and Founder of Soho Hospitality, a hospitality experience agency and restaurant group based out of Bangkok, Thailand. Rohit is a regular speaker at global hospitality conferences including HICAP, HICSA and the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF).


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