Emerging Concepts

Taking Aim at Eatertainment in the Restaurant Industry

Eatertainment, concepts that combine quality food and beverage offerings with entertainment, particularly competitive social gaming, have been on the rise for some time. The growing desire for experience over material objects has only escalated this advancing trend. 

Recently, Nation’s Restaurant News came out with four of the top players in this unique category, staging a showdown. The showdown highlighted concepts offering different sports, from the unusual to the technologically advanced. Fans headed to Instagram or LinkedIn to vote on their favorites. 

The four brands to make the grade include: 

  • Five Iron Golf: As the name suggests, Five Iron Golf is all about, well, Golf, and it’s growing fast. They’ve developed a new franchising program and have about 20 additional sites aligned to hit the market, with a goal of over 50 by year’s end. Each location contains up to 10 TrackMan golf simulators and high-tech offerings designed for the avid golfer as well as friends looking to enjoy fun and great food. You can even get golf lessons and enjoy laid-back activities like Foosball, air hockey, and shuffleboard. 
  • Pinstripes: Pinstripes defines itself as a bowling-bocce-bistro concept. Their goal is to open eight locations each year, with about 150 hitting the market over the next 20 years. Their Italian-American food and beverage program plays a pivotal part in their success, making up to 75% of the brand’s sales. Both bocce courts and bowling lanes are full-service, with the total experience available as guests enjoy their game.
  • Puttshack: Puttshack sets itself apart from other golf venues with its proprietary technology that tracks golf balls and keeps the score automatically. Each location generally has four tech-infused, upscale nine-hole courses and offers global cuisine that aligns with today’s guests’ experiential taste buds. In 2022, the growing brand received a $150 million investment from BlackRock, putting it on the road to mass expansion. There are currently 14 locations in the U.S., with more opening soon, and four locations in the United Kingdom, its birthplace.
  • Chicken N Pickle: One of the interesting aspects of Chicken N Pickle is that they entered the eatertainment scene before pickleball became all the rage. Founded in 2016, they now have 10 locations boasting a chef-driven, locally sourced menu. As with most successful eatertainment venues, food is not an afterthought but central to the brand’s success. In addition to pickleball, guests can play life-sized Jenga and Battleship, as well as ping-pong and cornhole in the outdoor areas. They’ve also set the bar for accessibility and a family-friendly venue, with pickleball wheelchairs at each location and a dog-welcoming atmosphere.

And the Winner Is

Announced on May 29, the winner of the NRN Eatertainment Showdown is Chicken N Pickle. 

The Continued Support for Entertainment

Mixed-use destinations combining shopping, dining, entertainment, and lodging continue to lean on eatertainment brands to support traffic. Shopping Center Business reported on The Mountain Mile in Pigeon Forge, TN, a 300,000 sq. ft. destination that includes thrill rides and spans 174 acres. 

One of the principals, Dixon Greenwood, noted that 2023 was down about 10% from the previous year, demonstrating consumers’ reduced spending habits. Traffic, however, was down just 2-3%. Greenwood said the draw is the continued addition of experiences and retailers. While entertainment falls under discretionary spending, consumers are still looking for unique offerings and, when they find them, are willing to part with some of their earnings. 

Mathew Focht, CEO of EMERGING, shared his thoughts on entertainment trends, “The consumer today has much higher expectations than the consumer of the past for location-based entertainment. We are required to create new ways to engage with the guest to keep the offerings relevant and surpass those expectations because while consumer spending has decelerated in most industries, they are still finding value in spending their hard-earned money on experiences.”

EMERGING optimizes entertainment concepts and restaurants for profitability and sustainable growth. Some of the eatertainment brands Emerging Concepts is supporting in their expansion plans include Puttshack, F1 Arcade, BRKTHROUGH, Museum of Ice Cream, Sandbox VR, Flight Club, Immersive Gamebox, Batbox, Beat The Bomb, and more. 

To learn more about optimizing your establishment or to schedule a consultation, contact EMERGING.

*Image Thank you Puttshack

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