EMERGING Fund

Eatertainment Restaurant Concepts on the Rise

Restaurant Business shared some interesting statistics regarding the fast-paced advancements of eatertainment concepts as they take the restaurant industry by storm. 

  • Visits to eatertainment concepts were up 23% year-over-year in January 2023.
  • Visits to Topgolf were up over 22% when tracking the past three years as of February 2023.
  • Visits to Bowlero were up over 18% in that same three-year comparison.

What’s happening? For some time, consumer preferences have been shifting away from physical goods and toward experiences. Lockdowns that accompanied the pandemic put fuel on the fire, transforming the desire for more socializing and interactions into a demand. Today, restaurants and entrepreneurs are heeding the call. 

Let’s explore some of the top contenders and how to integrate an enhanced experience into your brand. 

Restaurant Brands Aligning With Eatertainment

Today, you can find a host of activities to accompany your dining, from bowling and golf to cricket, surfing, and F1 racing. And, unless you’ve been tucked away in the office, you’ve undoubtedly heard of pickleball, one of the fastest growing sports in America and part of an entertainment concept called Chicken N Pickle

Opening in 2015, it was one of the first pickleball concepts to hit the scene with an indoor and outdoor entertainment complex and a chef-driven menu. Today, they have eight locations and more on the way. And they have significant competition, with pickleball-themed entertainment concepts like Electric Pickle, PickleBar, and many more on the way.

For the pickleball curious, it’s a mix of tennis and ping pong, played on a court about half the size of a tennis court.

Puttshack, founded by Adam Breeden and the creators of Topgolf, incorporates modern technology into an immersive mini-golf experience. Guests also enjoy a globally inspired, chef-driven menu and craft cocktails. Recently, the brand received $150 million from BlackRock. Breeden is also behind F1 Arcade, a much talked about Formula 1 Grand Prix-themed car race simulation concept.

Bowlero combines upscale bowling and shareable, including a Dunk Tank fishbowl cocktail that, with 123 ounces, is meant to be shared. Currently, they operate over 325 entertainment centers across the U.S. 

How about surfing? Zach Shor, former Topgolf executive, and Urban Entertainment Concepts are betting big on this one. GoodSurf, an eatertainment concept combining wave pool surfing with island eats, has $100 million in debt commitments geared to their U.S. rollout that should begin in March 2024 in Texas. 

Enhancing the Restaurant Experience

Of course, not all of us have the mindset or desire to turn our restaurants into social entertainment concepts with a competitive edge. So, how do you appeal to those looking for an experience without the gaming element? 

One brand started a unique concept by creating a shared, interactive dining experience. GEN Korean BBQ House, a brand under GEN Restaurant Group, was founded by two Korean immigrants in Los Angeles in 2011. Since then, it’s gone public, raising $43.2 million in its IPO and beating expectations. They’ve expanded throughout California as well as Texas, Florida, Washington, New York, Nevada, Hawaii, and Arizona. 

Raw meats, sauces, and marinades come to the table, where customers cook them at their grill-lined table. While cooking your own food at a restaurant may seem somewhat counterintuitive to the idea of a relaxing dinner out, it brings the in-demand elements in today’s dining: social, customizable, conversational, and globally inspired.

In their IPO filing, they noted their unique culinary experience appeals to Gen Z and Millennials. In addition to the experience, their customers also appreciate the vibrant Korean pop music and modern décor.

Creating Memories

An experience involves active participation and a unique environment that creates memories. Some of the ways restaurants are incorporating this growing trend without going over budget or involving major structural upgrades include: 

  • Providing menu items with global regional flavors
  • Instagram-worth presentations, including meals, cocktails, and décor
  • Wine or whiskey tastings and special events
  • Chef-driven menus with shareable small plates
  •  An immersive experience with live performance elements, from local bands to murder mystery events, cabaret acts, aerialists, and arias–Magic and theater elements resonate with today’s eatertainment guests
  • Adding a karaoke room
  • Encouraging socialization with unique seating

The EMERGING Fund

As a company that’s been involved in the restaurant industry for decades, EMERGING recognized the changing landscape and the growing demand for entertainment and technology. As a result, the EMERGING Fund was launched and has since raised $52 million on its way to $100 million to invest in restaurants and eatertainment concepts as well as technology geared for our industry. With innovation partners such as Adam Breeden, emerging concepts not only gain financing, but the expertise of those in the field. To learn more about the EMERGING Fund or to schedule a consultation, contact EMERGING.  

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