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Experiential Dining Extravaganza: Operators Feed the Need for Eatertainment

Experiential Dining Extravaganza

40% of millennial consumers are experientialists who look beyond just the food to take experiential aspects into account.1

Renowned for its seemingly insatiable appetite for taste adventures, the millennial market provides chefs and operators everywhere plenty of food for thought about the critical need for continual menu innovation.

But millennials are hungry for more than eclectic flavor profiles. While survey results show that the average millennial dines out five times a week,2 the market also demands high levels of engagement and unique experiences to drive traffic and keep it coming back. Creative limited-time offers like Shake Shack’s Eel Burger (considered unique by 75% of millennials surveyed3) add intrigue to the menu, but restaurants that fuse food and entertainment may be more likely to earn applause from millennial audiences who return for encore performances.

According to the market research firm Datassential, millennials tend to be experientialists who “look beyond just the food, taking into consideration the experiential aspects of dining out—think a restaurant that features axe throwing or a barcade with vintage games where you can order cocktails inspired by characters like Pac-Man.”1

As a result, eatertainment venues like Punch Bowl Social, a growing national chain of dining and entertainment emporiums, are biting into market share. By engaging customers on a variety of levels, eatertainment is tailored to the millennial taste for new and share-worthy experiences and provides a platform where young consumers can gather to eat, drink and play games. Punch Bowl Social offers everything from shuffleboard and Skee-Ball to bowling, ping pong, vintage arcade games and more.

The menu emphasizes flavorful variety and craft beverages that reflect the preferences of the chain’s millennial customer base, including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free dishes. “While the team is always working to stay ahead of the trends—and often has a hand in creating them—we continue to align with industry trends,” Robert Thompson, Punch Bowl Social’s founder and CEO, explained to Forbes.2 “Notable food and beverage trends are vegetable entrees, nostalgic foods, and craft non-alcoholic drinks. On the latter, millennials drink moderately less alcohol but still demand a craft experience.”2

Other high-profile eatertainment venues include Topgolf—a national chain that offers a high-tech driving range, lounge, games and an eclectic menu—and Denver-based Ace Eat Serve, which features table tennis, Pan-Asian cuisine, cocktails and juice bar.

As Datassential Senior Publications Manager Mike Kostyo explained, social media has been a driving force in the growth of the eatertainment category, compelling operators to create experiences that can be shared onsite as well as online. “Everybody wants to go out and have an experience that they can share with their friends,” he says.4 “If you’re a restaurant operator, you have to go above and beyond these days in order to get people out of their houses and create an experience that makes it a destination.”4

What’s more, eatertainment’s appeal extends beyond the millennial cohort. Datassential survey results show that nearly 60% of consumers across generational lines are interested in visiting eatertainment concepts, and 30% reported already having visited one.4

Expect more and more foodservice operations to integrate various forms of entertainment into their overall experience, from interactive dishes to games to seasonal events. To learn more about the ways experiential dining is transforming the foodservice landscape, be sure to read the Let’s Chat Snacks blog post, Hungry for More: Millennial Dining Market Eats Up Experiential Concepts.

1 Datassential, FoodBytes: Millennials, Feb. 2018, p. 8
2 Fromm, Jeff, “‘Eatertainment’ Venues Serve Up the Right Recipe to Attract Millennials,” Forbes, Feb. 13, 2018
3 Datassential, p. 4
4 Avant, Mary, “Inside the Rise of Entertainment Dining,” QSR, Dec. 2017

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