Restaurants are offering entertainment like never before

Food and entertainment go hand-in-hand to create memorable meals.

A new breed of dining establishments are bringing their own unique twists to the concept “dinertainment” to attract diners who want more than music and cocktails with their main meal. They’re growing quickly in major cities.

Swingers is a combination of street food, cocktail bars, and indoor crazy golf. It’s opening its second London location. In Paris, the luxury bus-restaurant Bustronome transports guests to top Paris attractions while they dine. In Dubai, Inked creates unique dining experiences, from a surrealist Dali-inspired feast, to monochromatic meals.

As they seek to revitalize the cinema experience, many cinemas now offer higher-end dining options. Cine de Chef has branches in Seoul, South Korea, and Kathmandu (Nepal), while Alamo Drafthouse outlets are available across the US, where movie-goers can enjoy chef-prepared meals while they watch a film.

Florence Graham-Dixon is Associate Director of JLL’s Foodservice Team. She says that the genre is being re-invented because there is more competition in eating out and that consumers need more to convince them to leave the home rather than ordering in. People can enjoy a new way to socialize with friends when food meets art, gaming, theatre, or technology. These locations are great backdrops for social media posts.

Technology elevates dining to a new level

The new technology offers many innovative ways to spice up your dining experience. Graham-Dixon says that more restaurants incorporate virtual reality into their operations to allow them to create unique experiences that people want and can then share with their friends. Mad Rex, a Philadelphia-based restaurant that focuses on the apocalypse, gives diners VR headsets so they can experience an apocalyptic videogame while they eat. This is the most extreme example I have heard.

Many bars also offer cocktails with VR headsets. For example, order Origin at the One Aldwych Hotel London. The waiter will prepare the drink while the headset whisks you off to the Scottish Highlands.

Graham-Dixon says that VR technology is becoming more affordable, which makes it a great way to connect food service brands with customers in deeper ways. “Some of these innovative concepts are truly exciting and bring new ways for people learn about their food.”

Brands with big names are also trying new tech offerings. Starbucks for instance, launched an Augmented Reality experience in-store for Chinese customers. This allows them to take a virtual tour through the app of the coffee roasting process.

Others restaurants use lower-tech, but equally innovative approaches. For example, Le Petit Chef, a French restaurant in Berlin, displays a miniature cartoon chef on the plate of diners, who explains how the dishes were made. Tokyo Artist Collective Teamlab also created an interactive restaurant interior, which takes diners on a journey through seasons by displaying digital screens on the walls. The screens are used to show the seasonal dishes being served.


Retailers must balance the uniqueness of their products against cost and space requirements. Graham-Dixon says that while technology can be easily installed in smaller spaces to drive footfall and PR, there will still be an initial cost. “Consumers get tired of gimmicks quickly so diners who want to be part of the dining experience need to find something unique and lasting.”

Other dinertainment set-ups such as Swingers or bar-and-restaurant-meets-ping-pong center, Bounce, need bigger spaces that come with different challenges. Graham-Dixon says that they will only work in certain locations with high footfall, or areas with higher rents.

She believes that brands that have a distinctive selling point are a better fit for developers who want to create modern lifestyle hubs than traditional shopping malls, particularly if they appeal to a wide audience.

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