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Bringing Back Dinner and a Show: How Live Entertainment Enhances Dining

One surefire way to encourage guests to stay longer and order more is to make sure they’re so happy they don’t want to leave. Every restaurant and bar aims to do this, but sometimes a lack of fresh ideas make it a difficult task, especially in an age where attention spans seem to be at an all time low.

It’s time to energize guests, encourage real world interaction, and bring back the human experience through the merging of performing arts and culinary arts.

It’s time to rediscover the value of good ole fashioned live entertainment.

Performing artists like musicians, actors, comedians, magicians can level up the guest experience in a way that feels like pure magic. Partnerships with artists create events that distract and thrill, giving guests what they didn’t know they needed – a real good time.

Performing artists brings out the best in guests

Sometimes it’s a laugh, sometimes it’s a cry, but whatever form it comes in, a show allows guests to let go. That relaxed state lowers guards, inspiring a need to savor the moment. It’s special access into an otherwise untapped state of mind that naturally increases revenue.

Performers act as a guide on the guest journey. Through banter and storytelling, performers manipulate the atmosphere into one of indulgence. Whoever has the microphone can encourage guests to order a cocktail, get another helping, or to enjoy a dessert.

The positive effects of treating guests to a side of entertainment during their meal is positively overwhelming.

A “show” can be as informal as an open mic or as professional as a full-scale production. It’s easy to work with servers so they know how to do their job in this unique environment. Whatever way it’s done, integrating live entertainment into service can play a crucial role in hospitality success.

Read on for some shining examples of bars, restaurants, and alternative venues that put performers in the spotlight – and reap the benefits for doing so.

Create a soundscape guests will never want to leave

Music and a meal have gone hand-in-hand for centuries. What started as a European custom quickly became popular in America, and guests still enjoy the ambiance of live music while sipping and noshing.

The restaurant group Blue Note takes jazz to a new level, making music part of their identity while also offering up quality dining. They offer nights for new musicians to take the stage, and they also attract the biggest stars of the jazz scene.

Restaurants don’t have to dedicate themselves to only one style of music – or even music in general – to create a buzz with guests. And they don’t even need a stage. Hiring a host to organize open mic nights can bring in free entertainment (minus the cost of paying the host) and allows for artists to test out new material while guests enjoy the vibes and stay for another song…

Take it to the edge with entertainment that bites back

Comedy shows are a great way to bring a smile to guests’ faces. One type that brings guests into the action is drag queen bingo. This classic game of bingo with a twist started in the 1990s and is now a phenomenon all over the country.

A very talented, charismatic drag queen runs a traditional game of bingo, but no guest is off limits as they make fun of any and every one daring to participate. When taken lightly (as it should be), it’s two hours of belly laughs.

One place that does drag queen bingo right – along with other styles of performance like burlesque – is Revelry Plates & Potions, a live entertainment venue that breaks the mold with creative menu items and edgy performances. Their drag queen bingo is so popular it has multiple show times every week, and guests have to book in advance because they sell out quickly.

Turn to the classics for a guaranteed good time

Old school magic shows thrive at the Academy of Magical Arts – better known as the Magic Castle – where amazement abounds both in entertainment and dining. For over 60 years, this members-only experience has been serving up special treats for those lucky enough to get inside.

The Magic Castle offers magic shows, workshops, and special events big and small throughout its grounds, as well as gourmet bites and specialty drinks. Its exclusivity lends to the mystery and allure of the concept, but replicating this magical atmosphere is within reach for operations of any size.

There’s also the classic dinner theatre to consider. Producing popular plays with a food service element can draw in quite a crowd. It’s also the kind of entertainment the whole family can enjoy. Even themed dining like Medieval Times takes dinner theatre to a whole new level (and era!). But this type of entertainment requires a space big enough to house a set, a cast of performers, a stage crew, and a substantial audience – and don’t forget tables, chairs, and dining setup.

Liven up dining with the energy of performance

The arts have always been a significant part of our way of life, and there’s a good reason for that. A performance can whisk you away to another time and place, and while you’re there, spending money seems small compared to the joy it brings from keeping the magical experience going.

Consider bringing in an element of live entertainment to the dining experience. Just starting small can make a big impact on the guest experience.

For more ideas, put feelers out on social media to see what local resources are available. There are many artists looking to share their talents with the community, and it won’t cost much to feature them (and the menu) in a whole new way. In fact, it is one of the best brand investments a restaurant or bar can make.