With the growing demand for more entertainment in restaurants, this blog post will provide you with 30 incredible ideas to help you host a memorable and unique experience. Some of these ideas are low-cost and can save you money while others can be expensive investments. Regardless of your budget, there is an idea here that will make your restaurant stand out from the rest and in the best case, your idea might be the one that makes the customer choose your restaurant.
Board games are highly popular within all customer groups from young to old to woman to man. There are many really great board games out there such as Monopoly, Kimble, Uno, and much more! I suggest including at least 5 board games so the customers have something to choose from and if more than one group wants to play, it’s possible.
Theme nights can bring in some mystique, fun, or intimacy depending on the actual theme. For example, you could host a themed night with a pirate theme for the kids or an intimate Arabian night theme for the adults. There are also various theme nights that you can build up around the holidays, I have listed the most popular ones below.
- New Year
- Valentine’s Day
- St Patrick’s Day
This one is popular amongst the teens and young adults, especially when it comes to the males however many ladies like to give punches now and then and I have seen some mean ones in my day. This might not fit inside of a high-quality fine dining restaurant but this one is the perfect choice for bars. The only downside is that boxing machines can cost anywhere from $500-$2000 and anywhere around these prices.
Arcade games are a rare sight these days but if the restaurant type is fitting, they are seen from time to time. Everybody knows Pac-Man, Pinball, Space Invaders and the list goes on. Arcade games are popular in all customer bases but especially older people that were young when arcade games were the latest hit will get excited when they see a piece of their youth history. Arcade games aren’t the cheapest entertainment idea for just entertaining purposes and they can cost from $500 and well beyond.
Pool, billiard, whatever you want to call it is probably the most loved game within restaurants. Pool tables maybe don’t fit for fast food or fine dining restaurants but they are the ultimate game for casual restaurants, bars, and pubs.
The beauty of a pool table is that it will draw customers like bees to honey and whether you keep it as a free game to use for everybody, or charge to play for example $8/hour, it will be beneficial to your restaurant either way.
The universal world for a good time needs to be included in nearly all restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages and here’s why: Even if you serve the beverages at a really cheap price in one hour, most of the customers won’t certainly leave after that and that’s when the spending is just getting started so the profits will be large anyways, plus everybody loves a happy hour which will bring some new customers consistently.
Hosting game nights such as Bingo, Trivia Nights, Poker, will draw attention to your restaurant, however, be conscious about the game you choose because the same game isn’t appealing for everyone so keep an eye on what kind of people walks into your restaurant so you can make the best decision. By the way, the winner is expecting a price!
Wine tastings are a great way to invite people to try your newest wines and mingle in the process. Wine tastings are highly popular when it comes to age after 30 and you’d be surprised at how many people really show up for these things. Beer tasting is a similar event that you could host but again, be conscious of the differences between the two and acknowledge that both aren’t for the exact same audiences.
Offering Daily Specials
Offering one dish every day that is cheaper than the others will be incisive to people because we all love promotions and special offers. You can also do lunch specials, beverage specials, meal combo specials, and anything that comes to mind really.
Host a Contest
Hosting a contest like Pie eating, Chili eating, Hot dog eating, or anything similar, you get the idea, will practically get a crowd to your restaurant and when people come and see the event, they will purchase meals and beverages to go with it and you can reap the rewards.
The dartboard is almost as popular as the pool table. Having a dartboard will be the perfect addition to any bar, pub, or casual restaurant and it will keep people in your establishment a while longer, usually at least that the players chug a couple of drinks with the process. I personally love darts and if I see one, I’m going to linger a while longer.
Build the Meal
This is a fun way to get the customer involved in the process and people love it. You can do this in two ways for example let’s say is burger day in your buffet restaurant, you could place a great variety of different ingredients where the customer could choose and build their own. You can also list the different ingredients within the menu where the customers could choose and build the meal of their own and the chefs would do the cooking.
Singles nights are a great way to offer low-cost entertainment for the customers. There are a couple of ways to handle this event. The first way is to handle it with more elegance and make it more of an actual event for meeting other singles and hoping that they find love, of you can throw a singles party which will attract a whole different kind of customer base, usually younger people will attend to the later one.
Speed dating is like singles night, but not quite. Speed dating is when participants meet in a group and typically have the opportunity to talk with their table for three minutes before rotating. Not only will this provide amazing entertainment, but it also might just help you find your perfect match! Speed dating is best suited as an event during slower periods of time like on weeknights or rainy days.
Karaoke is a universal entertainment idea which is proven highly popular times and times over. A simple karaoke machine and a display for reading the words can costs usually between $400 – $600 but you certainly can go lower or higher. Advertising a karaoke night within the restaurant or keeping info flyers in the entrance will get the secret pop stars to show up.
This one is really an interesting one. The chases are that you can’t get the next Picasso to come and show their art but that isn’t quite the point here. The idea of this is to offer an art exhibition with the local artist’s art that is willing to do so and the best part here is that it’s beneficial for the artist and the restaurant. The artist will get some more recognition and the restaurant gets more customers in the process!
Having the battle of bartenders from time to time will be an interesting event for most people. Get two or more bartenders to participate and let the customer participants decide the winner and create special offers around the winning drinks!
Dining in the Dark
Having dinner in complete darkness will enhance your senses, and make you feel closer to the people around you. Connect the tables together, play relaxing music and serve delicious food, what an exciting and memorable experience that will totally be printed in your and the customer’s heads forever.
This is a great way to help the real blind people and getting them involved with the event!
Turn Waiters into Characters
I love this one and if your restaurant has open-minded servers, they will love it too. Dressing the waiters to a specific character or according to a current event, holiday or theme will get the mood lightened up and everyone will have some joy in their day.
Have a Selfie Spot
This is quite a new concept that has skyrocketing in popularity. Having a mirror in a specific spot in a restaurant with something recognizable, unusual, or beautiful will create the perfect selfie spot to a restaurant which will practically on its own attract some customers for a shot in the famous spot.
Mystery Menu Night
Hosting a mystery menu night in your restaurant can be an excellent way to both entertain your customers and introduce them to new dishes. This may seem odd at first but it’s quite simple, serve the customers something that they don’t know. However, be sure to ask about certain allergies or special diets upfront.
Chefs Quick Tips
Having the chef in the middle of the restaurant for ”the day’s tips” or something similar will be loved by customers because the chefs are like secret magicians for most customers that always make their delicious dishes but they can never see them. You could for example have the chef show the customers how to efficiently peel and mince a clove of garlic, how to dice an onion, or something similar because for us the restaurant workers it is quite obvious how it’s done but for most people, they have no idea!
If the chef’s tips show some popularity and admiration you could host full cooking classes with a willing chef. This way you could have some fun with the customers, teach them something new and get some profits from the classes.
Everybody loves stand-up comedy as long as the comic doesn’t roast you from the stage. Having some local amateurs or even foreign professionals will get the customer volumes flowing and in the process, you will reap some rewards from the profits.
Have A Photo Booth
A photo booth is an extremely popular thing loved by all age groups and customer bases! Especially in the modern days when you have thousands of pictures on your phone but not a single physical one, this could get your restaurant to the next level because, in the technology-filled world where we live today, I personally love physical pictures whether that is with my friends, family, or partner.
Have a Movie Night
Hosting a movie night with a projector will be exciting to all customer types and age groups, be sure to choose an appropriate movie or announce that you are showing horror films. If you plan to do this often I would suggest that you invest in a movie projector which will pay itself back quickly
Ladies’ nights are a great way to attract the female audience of your customer base. You could offer special discounts, free dessert, or a drink for the females, and if they come in with a partner that is paying it’s a win-win-win situation.
Men should get equal treatment so let me present men’s nights. You could offer the same incentives to men as for the ladies and if a group of men is heading out to watch a game in a restaurant, offer them something that will make them choose you above all others.
Now that men and ladies have their own nights, let’s make a mix and match with couples night! Offering free shareable dessert, discount prices for the shareable meals or drink bundles will keep the couples satisfied and in the process, most of the couples from the area that is heading out will choose your restaurant and it can even lead to double date scenarios which will generate a lot of extra revenue.
Bring a Pet Day
People love their pets and including them in an event will get the most excited pet owners to show up and dine. The fun thing about this is that you could make or purchase some foods for the pets that you could sell in your restaurant for a great profit.
How to Choose the Right Entertainment
Choosing the right event considering your customer base is important. If you want to get bang for your buck and have an event to remember, think about the majority of your customer base. Are they elderly, teens, adults in their 30s, men, women, and anything that you can think of.
Then you should consider your cuisine and restaurant type and choose the best ideas that would suit specifically your restaurant.
You can also do polls or have a tablet that asks for the customer’s emails in exchange for some discounts and you could include there a poll about different events and ask the customers their opinions.
This brings us to the next step which is how to market the entertainment you have chooses.
How to Market The Event
There are many ways that you can market your entertainment events and whether that is through social media, inside your restaurant, or with email marketing to the emails that you collected alongside your polls, you should know the best ways to do so. I have listed the top marketing ways below.
- Social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter)
- Email Marketing
- Local Influencer
- Hand out flyers
- Have announcements inside the restaurant
How Entertainment Will Affect the Restaurants Sales
There are so many positive ways that entertainment will affect your sales and in the process, it will separate your restaurant from the others and makes it much more recognizable, and even builds brand recognition as well!
First of all, entertainment will bring in new customers that have never been in the establishment which will generate more sales.
Second, when their experience is good as it’s happening they are more likely to spend more money at the scene.
Third, when the customers are satisfied and leave with a good experience in their memory, it is highly likely that they will return when you host another event, and even some of them will convert into regulars.
As a bonus to all these perks, you will get free and valuable marketing if the event has been a success because the power of mouth-to-mouth marketing is huge on the customer’s part. If these aspects don’t get you excited then I don’t know what will.
This article was filled with great entertainment ideas that you can implement into your restaurant and see the new customers coming in, old ones converting to regulars, and new great memories generated for all of you!
Some of the ideas above can cost substantial sums of money, for example getting a photo booth or a boxing machine, however, most of the ideas are extremely affordable that usually can bring even better results so don’t sweat it if you don’t have money to invest in a full arcade game collection, darts or a trivia night will perform well.
I hope that you got value from this article and can increase sales, customer base, and the happiness in your restaurant business and with that the everyday life because after all, we all like entertainment!