Between COVID restrictions, supply chain disruptions, a seemingly lasting decline in in-office employment in eatery-laden city centers, spikes in energy prices, and supply chain disruptions, the industry has faced a perfect storm. On the heels of that nightmare, restaurants – like, frankly, most of society – enter 2023 with hopes of a return to relative stability. Of course, new year or not, certain headwinds remain.
Most prominent are persistent staff shortages and inflation. Additionally, whether motivated by finances, personal health, or both, it’s expected that some customers will prioritize entertaining at home and cooking with top-quality ingredients, with an increased focus on quality over quantity on their nights out.
Fresh Take on the Classics
What if Medieval Times and Dave & Buster’s had it right along?
In addition to serving up quality (and, if forecasts are correct, comforting) fare, restaurants these days must focus even more than before on their customer’s overall experience. This includes, as it always has, décor and a vibrant but welcoming vibe, but also entertainment and activities to round out a “night out” are increasingly being added to the menu.
Take, for instance, the recently resurgent Las Vegas dinner show scene that’s giving guests a modern take on an “old Vegas” staple. Up and down the Strip, from Excalibur to Bellagio, to Fremont Street and beyond, with a single reservation, guests can enjoy a full evening of dinner, drinks, dancing, and live entertainment.
There’s also Levity Entertainment Group’s Levity Live, whose ten locations across the U.S. are treating guests to an elevated take on the classic comedy club experience. Levity Live takes the laughs that come with a night at a standup comedy club, featuring lineups stacked with established and up-and-coming comics, and adds to them the hilarity of top-notch sketch performances. Add to all of that top-quality food in a great atmosphere, and consumers are in for an elevated and immersive comedy experience.
Beyond these new takes on “old school” entertainment, however, the industry has begun to offer diners an exciting new selection of interactive experiences.
A New Experience
Take, for instance, London’s F1 Arcade, which, in addition to high-quality dining and cocktails made at a spectacular 40-foot bar, offers guests the opportunity to test their skills on any track on the Formula 1 circuit via immersive, interactive simulator-based video games.
In a similar vein, there is Puttshack. With 15 locations across the U.S. and another four around London, Puttshack combines outstanding food with the fun and friendly competition of miniature golf, all in a beautifully-designed, social, and tech-driven bar-restaurant setting. Puttshack is just one exciting entry in the emerging portfolio of interactive concepts from the minds of Adam Breeden, along with Top Golf founders Steve and Dave Jolliffe.
Another offering from Breeden (along with Steve Moore and Paul Barham) is Design my Night’s “best new venue in London”. Originally launched in London in 2012, and since 2017 Flight Club has been offering guests in Chicago the vibe of a classic English pub, a tech-driven take on the classic pub game of darts, a vibrant design, and excellent fare – and garnering rave reviews in the process.
The rise of the one-stop shop offering an immersive evening out is by no means a death knell for the traditional nighttime hotspot. However, on both sides of the Atlantic, a growing number of forward-looking businesses are evolving their models, from dedicated restaurants, nightclubs, and entertainment, to more comprehensive, experience-focused concepts. In both a micro and a macro sense, these concepts will serve as fascinating canaries in the coal mine for the industry. Those businesses with the best understanding of the marketplace and their customers’ desires, could play a vital role in redefining the “night out.”