What Is Eatertainment? Hear It From The Experts

a photo of Elise Musumano

Elise Musumano

5 min read

Feb 7, 2019

What Is Eatertainment? Hear It From The Experts

Eatertainment isn’t exactly a word that rolls off the tongue.

It’s actually a combination of two words: “eating” and “entertainment.”

What Does Eatertainment Mean? What Are Some Examples?

Here’s the definition of eatertainment: a guest experience that involves food and/or beverage dining before, after, or during other activities.

Here are some examples:

A bowling venue with seating for food & beverage
A music venue that sells drinks during a show
A bar with life-sized games
A movie theater that lets guests eat a meal as they watch their film

Who is the target audience for the eatertainment sector? Millennials may be at the forefront of the movement, but guests range across all ages and relationships vary from couples to families and friend groups.

Eatertainment emerged in the early 2000s with the rise of the experience economy. It’s a growing trend where consumers — especially millennials — value experiences over products.

In other words, they would rather have a mediocre plate of food with excellent company, service, and environment, than an excellent plate of food with bad service and atmosphere.

The benefits of bringing an entertainment aspect to a historically F&B-only outlet is three-fold:

  1. Activities add a differentiator that attracts guests looking for a unique offering.
  2. Consumers crave shareable experiences; an environment that’s visually enticing gives you a referral network with $0 acquisition cost and no marketing resources needed.
  3. Activities extend the stay of a party, increasing guest spend on food and drinks. It’s more efficient operationally, and more effective financially, to keep one tab open for three hours for the same party than to open and close three bills with one-hour turn times.

In fact, F&B spend can account for 85% of sales — so while the entertainment draws the guests in, the dining aspect is what drives the revenue.

To really dig into what eatertainment means, we asked operators who have been building it from the ground up, extending their brands internationally and expanding exponentially.

Below are interviews with two of our clients, Pinstripes and House of Blues (Live Nation)…

Exclusive Insight from The Fastest-Growing Eatertainment Brands

Client: Pinstripes

Interview with Lida Ahn, Chief Training Officer at Pinstripes

How has your brand grown exponentially in the past few years? Why now?

We opened our first location 11 years ago, and have expanded to 10 locations. We’ve grown at the right pace thus far, because we were trying to really “figure it out”. We were very focused on implementing a strong culture and infrastructure, but always with the intent to grow. We are now entering an exciting time in the life-span of the company: Growth Mode. We will open 3-5 locations every year until we have 80-100 locations nationally and multiple overseas. But at the core of it, we are not here to just blindly grow it. We will only grow at the speed that we have the talent to grow.

How does the Pinstripes brand stand out from other nearby eatertainment options?

We are focused on meshing dining and entertainment, and doing it in a quality fashion. We make all our food in-house, all the way down to our cookies and sauces. We have real italian leather couches, Jerusalem stone walls and flooring, and the list goes on.

How does tech like SevenRooms help you to increase efficiencies?

SevenRooms allows us to automate certain procedures that would otherwise take additional time out of team member’s shifts, and may also cause human error. Technology has helped us streamline our processes, and to better serve our guests.

Do you have any active community partnerships?

We are very much a community venue. We have active partnerships with school, churches, community halls, non-profit organizations, etc. We actively donate for good causes that are occurring in each community.

How is the industry different today than it was even 5 years ago?

When we first opened Pinstripes, no one would eat and play at the same time. That concept was just foreign. Now when you look at Pinstripes, of course there are people ‘dining’ in our bistro, but you have guests enjoying a filet and bottle of cabernet while bowling, and other guests enjoying desserts and prosecco while playing bocce. It’s been fun to see how people ‘entertain’ change throughout the years.

How are you driving interest and urgency with guests?

I think we are always evolving. From hosting a brewers bocce tournament to launching a new Saturday Brunch menu, and maybe coming up in the future of ‘bundled’ packages like the ‘Double Header’ or ‘Trifecta’. We are always listening to what guests are suggesting, and looking at different dayparts to see what new guests we can draw in.

What’s the breakdown of your sales?

80% F&B / 20% Gaming

Why does eatertainment appeal to millennials, in your eyes?

Millennials, in general, like to spend their money on the ‘Experience’, rather than ‘Stuff’. That has really helped us appeal to this crowd. Pinstripes is ALL about the experience of connecting with your friends and family.

What’s been one of your most successful strategies to increase revenue?

There’s never a ‘Silver Bullet’. We’ve tried all sorts of things through marketing, grassroots, you name it. What has worked for us is Good Ol’ Fashioned ‘Hospitality’. Meet the people who are coming into Pinstripes, make sure they have a great time, and then they keep coming back.

Do you have any exciting campaigns coming up?

We always have exciting campaigns … can’t reveal them yet! But more to come.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 5 years?

There are a whole lot more ‘entertainment/dining’ concept now than there were back then. Golf, Video Games, Axe Throwing, Ping Pong, etc. But I think in the coming years, the classic games with quality offerings will outlast all the others.

What are your challenges, and how do you overcome them?

We have all sorts of challenges. But I think the #1 challenge is that people group us in the same category as all the other entertainment/dining venues. We’re really not. Sure, we offer bowling, bocce, and great food. But at the end of the day, we’re a community gathering place that has different options on how they will connect with their friends and family. It’s not so much about the offering. It’s about the fun they’ll have with each other.

Client: House of Blues (acquired by Live Nation in 2006)

Interview with Victor Sutter, Vice President of the Foundation Room at House of Blues.

How has the House of Blues brand under Live Nation grown exponentially in the past few years?

We are seeing growth on all fronts, from new openings and high-profile events to our everyday operations. Live music feels like it’s bigger than it has ever been, but also our ability to hone in on different concert-goer’s needs — tailoring experiences and offers by music genre, specialty foods, pre- and post-events — have all helped enrich the experience. Putting information to use on what our guests enjoy and look for has helped build a memorable moment at every show.

How does your brand stand out from other nearby eatertainment options? Food? Chef? Ambiance?

I believe the uniqueness of House of Blues is the ability to act as an entertainment complex rather than just another venue. You have different sounds, food options, textures, styles of service. From an intimate music theater, to a southern-inspired restaurant, to the upscale speakeasy ambiance of the Foundation Room, it all can be experienced in one night and in no wrong order in which to indulge.

How does tech like SevenRooms help you to increase efficiencies?

Not only as an organizational tool in day-of situations but it really has helped track our trending sales prior to events, our historical accuracy to prepare better for returning artists, and more importantly, having a central database with rich data on what our guests truly gravitate to per show.

Do you have any active community partnerships?

We take pride in being part of vibrant communities, whether we are helping in charity drives, music education with our own Music Forward charity or having the community use our venues for cultural events. The want to help others and be part of a positive community environment is at the ethos of our brand. In many of our hallways and back of house areas you will find the phrase “Help Ever, Hurt Never.” We try to live that daily.

How is the industry different today than it was even 5 years ago?

Technology is always the common answer. If you look back at even phones from 5 years ago they are leaps and bounds better in a short period of time. How we share experiences, how we consume information and how we get to know each other — all these things are rapidly changing. More and more, disruptive technologies are changing our way of thinking and our method of tackling problems. Even how we discover future artists, all these traditional avenues are changing thanks to better tech. The magic is in how we can use all this new technology to improve our physical interactions and our venue experiences. Those who can crack that code will be leading the charge.

How are you driving interest and urgency with guests?

By understanding their preferences, wants and curating personalized experiences. That sense of belonging is a powerful tool, and the more information we have on our guests the better we can fine tune our offers and create long lasting connections to the brand.

What’s the breakdown of your sales?

Since we have so many experiences under one roof, it does vary. Our music halls are beverage-heavy, so we look at trends per show and customer feedback and create selections that resonate with that genre. These include thematic signature cocktails, expanded wine lists on certain shows and limited offers to showcase what our guests truly want. In our House of Blues restaurant, our food drives the check, while Foundation Rooms sees both diners and pre- and post-show revelers, so it skews heavier on the beverage side.

Why does eatertainment appeal to millennials, in your eyes?

I would swap entertainment for experiences. With the right ancillaries like art, food, fashion, interactive installments, you can really create something compelling regardless of who is on stage. House of Blues creates multiple in-house concepts where the music is a focal point but the “hang” is as important. Creating layers of interest throughout the venue and the night makes an impact in my eyes.

What’s been one of your most successful strategies to increase revenue?

I think revenue goes hand in hand with creating experiences — whether that’s through VIP service experiences where we showcase the best road map to enjoy a show in style, or create added value components that transform your average concert into an immersive show. Those learnings have paved the way for some fantastic growth.

Do you have any exciting campaigns coming up?

Yes, it’s an exciting year of growth. We have several new music venues coming to life, such as the New Orleans Fillmore opening in February, and new developments like our Blues Busters program, where you can find great promotional value offers for all our experiences. Unlike your traditional lines of business, we have the benefit of looking forward to some much-awaited tours that will kick off this year.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 5 years? 10 years?

Live music will continue to be coveted and best served with friends so I don’t see that appetite slowing down soon. We are already seeing a good mix of successful festivals that continue to grow and offer more value for the dollar with their environment and what’s on the stage. But I think we will also see success on the opposite spectrum, with smaller, intimate venues being creative and playing into those one-of-a-kind moments that you may have to pinch yourself to believe you are experiencing this type of show in such a setting. Regarding our other F&B venues, we will continue to find success in authentic food with a point of view, high product quality and genuine warm service. That classic formula is hard to beat.

What are your challenges, and how do you overcome them?

Ideation and innovation play a big role in tackling our challenges as we grow. We are a large company and at times changing existing processes can seem like a daunting task, so leadership support is key here. We are lucky to have great leaders who enjoy challenging the status quo and push us to find compelling creative solutions and to think outside the box. Simply being a large company at times is challenging, but having a culture that encourages an open mind surely helps.

That’s all for now! Have eatertainment insight you want to share? We’re always looking to connect with new venues! Tweet us @SevenRooms.

Schedule a demo of SevenRooms to see the reservation, seating, and guest management platform that these eatertainment brands use every day.

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