Eatertainment Poised to Come Roaring Back
by David Klemt
People are eager to return bars and restaurants, and that focus is beneficial to the growth of one hospitality category in particular: Eatertainment.
As the name suggests, an “eatertainment” venue operates as both an entertainment space and restaurant.
Those who have been to such a concept know the key elements that define eatertainment. A robust F&B program; an array of bar games and other entertainment; room enough to play games and attract groups, but so large it draws massive crowds; and an interest in extending guest stays rather than constantly turning and burning.
Pre-pandemic, the eatertainment category was heating up, steadily growing in popularity. As recently as 2019, SevenRooms and YouGov partnered to study these concepts. When your category draws the attention of data-focused platforms and research firms, you know it’s a winner.
So, what did SevenRooms and their research partner conclude? That eatertainment venues are the new nightclub.
Eatertainment Muscles in on Nightlife
Per the SevenRooms report from 2019, nightlife preferences in the United States were shifting away from traditional nightclubs. This switch was, according to SevenRooms, partially driven by three factors:
- Nightclubs draw large crowds;
- they play very loud music; and
- such venues embrace exclusivity.
Now, that isn’t to say that the nightclub is dead. Particularly in destination cities like Las Vegas and Miami, nightclubs are a major draw.
However, as people reach their thirties or seek out more casual spaces, eatertainment becomes increasingly attractive. For the most part, people can leave work and go straight to an eatertainment concept to meet up with friends. They’ll be able to carve out a space, grab a bite and a drink, and socialize while engaging with an array of entertainment options.
Such venues also tend to be open seven days per week, from noon or early afternoon into late night. Their F&B programs, focus on entertainment, and hours of operation position them to play an important role: the third place.
Home Away from Home
As any dive or neighborhood bar operator knows, becoming a person’s third place is crucial. The third place, for those unfamiliar with the term, is the spot you go to in between the workplace and home.
So, becoming someone’s home away from home is a big deal. It’s the ultimate in consumer loyalty. Become someone’s third place and you’ll be on your way to building an army of brand advocates.
The third place is where we unwind after work. We’re friendly with the staff: they know us, know our usual orders, and know what recommendations to make.
Now, what if a regular’s third place offered not just quality F&B but also entertainment and an atmosphere that shifted with dayparts? You’d have a supercharged third place, a.k.a. an eatertainment concept.
Eatertainment will Continue to Grow
Where should people go when they decide they’re beyond their nightclub years? Feeling uncomfortable in a nightclub doesn’t mean the interest in nightlife simply disappears.
Well, they turn to eatertainment. And why do they find these concepts appealing? For several important reasons driven by shifts in consumer behavior.
One, I think we’re all tired of endless text and DM exchanges attempting to organize an outing. An eatertainment venue is a restaurant, bar, entertainment space, and nightclub in one place. No more planning to travel to a restaurant, then a bar for drinks afterward, and then a nightclub, concert, or lounge.
Two, today’s consumer is seeking out restaurants and bars that offer more inclusive, more welcoming, more personalized experiences. Again, eatertainment hits all those marks.
According to SevenRooms, there are key datapoints that indicate eatertainment will continue to grow. And while their report was published in 2019, their findings are still relevant given the past two years:
- Around a quarter of Americans want more eatertainment venues close to them.
- A quarter of Americans prefer a venue that combines quality food and drinks with fun activities in one space.
- Nearly 30 percent of Americans consider food quality when deciding where to spend their time and money.
- Close to 20 percent want a venue to offer something to do beyond drinking.
More recently, May of this year, in fact, Datassential also found that eatertainment is on the rise again. Per their data, half of consumers “are very interested in revisiting an eatertainment experience.
Eatertainment concepts are positioned to perform well moving forward.
Think about it: people are eager to socialize without being packed together; guests are showing interest in innovative, high-quality F&B items; people want entertainment that spans live music and DJs to cornhole (or bags, if you want to have that argument), axe throwing, and arcade games; and having access to an incredible, personalized experience in one venue is an attractive prospect.
Punch Bowl Social, Topgolf, Pinstripes, and Flight Club are among the best representatives of the category. Do you have the idea for the next big eatertainment brand? Let us know!