Are you prepared for the post-pandemic surge? The inpouring of consumers impatiently awaiting the opportunity to meet with friends and family, dine out, and “experience” the world as they once knew it?
The lockdown in Wuhan occurred just about one year ago, a time when no one predicted the long-term consequences or the effect an unknown virus would have on the world. Now, we know.
We also experienced the resiliency of our communities, small businesses, the diner down the street, and the larger entertainment concepts that once flourished. While not all of our friends, family members, and businesses will make it to the other side, we’re ready to embrace those that have. If you are an experiential dining establishment, be ready because we’re coming.
According to the National Restaurant Association, before COVID-19 hit, 63% of consumers would rather spend their money on an experience than purchase an item. That percentage has undoubtedly increased as the mask-weary, tired-of-social-distancing public readies itself for a day when most have been vaccinated and the numbers of those infected begin to decline.
In celebration of the days to come, we’ve delved into some of the top experiential dining concepts in the U.S. and around the globe. Yes, Dorothy, we will be playing indoor golf, social darts, interactive games, and virtual hunting once again. Bring it on.
This high-tech indoor golf party clearly lists their target market on their website: “From vegans to omnivores and cocktail connoisseurs…” I think it’s safe to say that would describe most of us. Puttshack’s menu consists of stonebaked pizzas, farm-fresh greens, small plates, and sensational skewers with signature cocktails and mocktails.
What’s even more tantalizing than their food and beverage offerings, is their interactive custom-themed mini golf courses. From beer pong to pop culture trivia, every hole offers a different interactive game. This immensely popular brand is currently located in the United Kingdom with openings this year in Chicago, Miami, and Atlanta. Don’t be too downtrodden if your city isn’t listed, they’re an expanding concept that I’m sure will one day be in all the major cities in the U.S.
For those of you that have played a game of darts at your local tavern, you’re in for quite a surprise when you walk in the doors of the Flight Club where the dart game of the 21st century resides. Flight Club’s tagline says it all, “Welcome to the home of unexpected, ridiculous joy.” This brand is the home of high-tech, multi-player, fast, and exciting dart games located in a beautiful venue in Chicago.
If you’re expecting some British pub fare, think again. Flight Club’s menu selections include ginger vegetable dumplings, mini poke or beef barbacoa tacos, and prime beef sliders topped off with a sophisticated beverage program featuring playful ingredients and garnishes for their botanical cocktails.
If you’re ready to join your friends in a hyper-immersive 60-minute off-the-charts adventure, the Electric Gamebox is your destination. This one-of-a-kind immersive digital experience takes place in your own private room equipped with projection mapping, touch screens, motion tracking, and 360-degree surround sound. Whether immersed in a CIA training program, a mining colony on Mars, or on a mission to rescue the royal family, this interactive adventure is sure to call to those with an adventurous spirit.
Founded in London in 2019, this growing concept now has three locations in the U.K. and recently opened its first venue in the U.S. Grandscape, a 400-acre mixed-use site filled with over 3.9 million square feet of retail, dining, residential, and entertainment attractions in Dallas, Texas is the country’s first lucky location.
Smoky Barrels, the world’s first virtual hunting social entertainment concept, uses cutting-edge Swedish technology to create a simulated virtual hunting experience in the Scottish Highlands on a 10-foot screen. This unique concept emulates the experience of hunting wild animals such as deer, wild boar, pheasants, and grouse. Of course, for those that would rather aim at targets, that’s an option too.
The experience is complete with the ambiance of a hunting lodge along with Scottish Highland fare, including venison burger and poached Scottish lobster with salmon caviar and fennel jam.
Currently located in London, the brand is looking to expand across the pond.
These are just a few of the many experiential concepts looking to expand as the world approaches the rebound phase. While the estimated time frame for the arrival of herd immunity varies, depending on the vaccine rollout and infection rates, many health experts suggest the summer or fall of 2021 may be the light at the end of the tunnel.
With that in mind, all of you experiential dining locations had better start preparing.