What’s Next for Eatertainment?


The concept of pairing food with entertainment is not new to hospitality. After all, it seems like bowling alleys, arcades, and music venues have always offered concessions. Likewise, billiards have always gone hand in hand with drinking establishments. But in the last few years, concepts like Top Golf and Punchbowl Social have paved the way for a new evolution of conceptual, upscale, and food-focused “eatertainment”. Here is why this new evolution of eatertainment is not simply a trend; it is a sign of the times.

Customers Crave Unique Experiences

In the last few years, consumer spending on experiences has grown four times faster than spending on goods. Though dominated by Millennials and Gen Z, this value shift is shared across all generations. And as everyone scrambles for social media likes and shares, customers want events and activities that are photographable, memorable, and shareable with friends. The eatertainment industry is perfectly poised to provide experiences that check all those boxes.

Food is Not an Afterthought

For years, pizza, burgers, nachos, and beer buckets have been standard concession fare at traditional venues like bowling alleys and event venues. While it makes sense to provide food and beverage to drive extra revenue, customers have grown tired of overpriced and uninspired food cooked in a microwave. Guests might not expect fine-dining menu items, but they want creative food that becomes part of the total experience. Many eatertainment venues now employ culinary teams with the skills and passion associated with upscale restaurants.

Each Guest Wants Their Own Journey

While most eatertainment concepts have a single activity like pickleball or arcade games as their focal point, they have recognized that not every guest wants their experience to play out the same way. For example, some may want to focus on the competitive or social nature of the activity before enjoying their drinks and meal. Others would love nothing more than to sip on a cocktail as they play skeeball or nibble a warm cookie while they watch a film. Others may only come for one or the other, and successful concepts can accommodate them all.

Creative Restaurant Technology is Non-negotiable

Eatertainment concepts come with a unique set of operational challenges. Are guests meant to stop their play and go to a central location to order or pay? Or will waitstaff have to track down guests? Technology has been quickly evolving to creatively solve these issues for a seamless experience. These technology solutions have also snowballed into opportunities for guests to play side games, keep track of scores, or earn loyalty perks.

Restaurant Managers Must Think Outside the Box

The job description for an eatertainment venue manager is truly unique, making it tricky to find the perfect candidate. The hospitality recruiters at Horizon Hospitality are experienced in finding operational and culinary management for all types of venues. Contact us to learn more!

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