Let’s be real – there’s no other way around this. In the fiercely competitive world of the restaurant business, you’re going to have to distinguish yourself somehow.
Restaurants are far more than just the food they serve. If they were, people would simply order food online. Restaurants are about the experience and the atmosphere. After a long week of work, people want to find a nice, relaxing place to spend time with their friends and close ones.
In this article, we’re going to go through a set of fifteen diverse restaurant entertainment strategies that have the potential to transform any ordinary night into a magical experience. If you’re a restaurant owner seeking to invigorate your place, this compilation is sure to leave you inspired.
Beat the Competition With These 15 Fun Restaurant Entertainment Ideas
Before we dive into the restaurant event ideas, it might be a good idea to first take a peek at your restaurant marketing plan. This way, you can make sure any new ideas align perfectly with your brand and current strategies. It’s a good way to prevent any unnecessary hiccups or investments that don’t quite fit your vision. Now let’s get to it.
1. Must Have: Ensure Top-notch Service to Keep Your Customers Satisfied
This might not seem as much of an entertainment idea as it is a restaurant must-have. That said, way too many restaurant owners blunder by treating customer service as an extra. This could not have been more wrong. Your customer service is as important, if not more important, than your decor, food, and location. No entertainment idea will be able to make up for poor service, so make sure you have this in check before organizing your next big event.
- Effective training: Make sure your staff understand your restaurant’s service standards, your offer, and how to handle various (especially negative) situations that may arise.
- Creating a positive atmosphere: Train staff to create a positive, welcoming atmosphere.
- Investing in your staff: Your staff is an integral part of your business. Investing in them through fair wages, professional development, and a supportive work environment can reap significant benefits for your restaurant.
- Use of technology: Consider implementing technologies that can streamline your service, such as a QR code menu.
- Efficient seating management: Efficiently managing the seating plan can reduce wait times and ensure that customers are attended to promptly.
- Being proactive: Encourage your staff to anticipate the needs of customers. This could involve offering to explain the menu, suggesting a dish or a drink, or providing a high chair for a child without being asked.
- Feedback: Regularly seek feedback from both your staff and your customers.
2. Great Food and Game Nights. You Can’t Go Wrong With This Combo!
Organize regular game nights to have people return for more. Try serving unique craft beers and signature snacks in addition to your usual setup. If your restaurant is lit with color LED bulbs, try changing the lighting to match the ambiance of your game night. Consider adding extra old-school arcade games to make even the geekiest customers happy.
- Puzzle night: Offer different types of puzzles for patrons to work on while they eat.
- Board game night: Provide a variety of board games for customers to play. These can range from classic games like Monopoly or Scrabble to more modern games like Settlers of Catan or Codenames.
- Video game tournaments: If your clientele is into video games, hosting a video game tournament for popular games can attract a crowd.
3. Set Yourself to Become the Local Remote Worker Hub
Ensure high-quality Wi-Fi, a relaxing atmosphere, and ambient music to make your place irresistible to remote workers. Remote and freelancer workers go out of their way to leave their homes and find a nice, cozy place where they can do their work and meet other people from their industry. Offer special restaurant loyalty program deals to get them hooked.
- A solid Wi-fi connection
- Relaxing atmosphere and background music
- Special brunch, tea, and coffee deals
- A variety of snacks and cold drinks to choose from
4. Get Loud With Live Music Events. Both Online and Offline!
Host live music events to keep your customers interested in your events. If you host the right artists, you can build a community around your establishment. Do market research before you host your event so that you don’t blunder when choosing the band! As an extra, try live streaming the event on your social media for more buzz.
- Identify your audience: A family-friendly restaurant might opt for a band playing softer, classic tunes, while a trendy, upscale restaurant may choose a jazz or blues band.
- Research: Look for a local musician or band that fits your criteria.
- Quality of performance: Prioritize bands with a reputation for high-quality, reliable performances.
- Volume control: Make sure the band can adjust their volume to suit your space and the desired atmosphere.
- Budget: Costs can include the band’s fee, sound equipment, and possibly meals for the band members.
- Trial performance: A trial performance allows you to gauge your customers’ reactions beforehand.
- Agreement: If you decide to hire a band, clearly outline the terms and conditions in a written agreement.
5. Offer Seasonal Deals and Events and Promote Them Online
Seasonal deals are a great opportunity to entertain guests with unique, season-themed delicious food. This restaurant entertainment idea is one of those that almost any restaurant can use without much effort. Whether it’s Halloween, Independence Day, or Christmas, make sure you promote your event all over the place! Consider giving your customers a small discount on this special occasion.
6. Spice Up Your Events With Special Deals for Groups to Increase Footfall
Whether you’re hosting a karaoke competition, an art exhibition, or cooking classes, consider creating special deals for groups. That way, you can increase footfall and ensure a more fulfilling experience. Make sure to have a restaurant loyalty program in place to keep them coming back!
- Create a special group menu that offers a selection of appetizers, mains, and desserts at a reduced price per person.
- Offer a complimentary dish, such as a shared appetizer or a dessert platter.
- Provide a complimentary bottle of wine or a pitcher of a signature cocktail for groups.
- Create a themed deal, such as discounted wings for a football game.
7. Keep Your Customers Engaged With Weekly Specials
Give your target audience what they need with weekly specials. Theme nights and wine-tasting events are great, but it might be tough to host them frequently. Give your customers a memorable experience by organizing weekly specials, where you serve a unique version of their favorite meal or a completely new dish.
- Meatless Mondays: Encourage healthier and more sustainable dining choices by offering a special discount on vegetarian or vegan dishes.
- Thirsty Thursdays: Highlight your drink menu by offering discounts on cocktails, craft beers, or non-alcoholic beverages.
- Local Love: Dedicate a day to dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, promoting local farmers and producers.
- Dessert Day: Highlight your dessert menu by offering a free or discounted dessert with every main course.
8. Become the Local Stand-up Comedy Hub and Win Loyal Customers
Stand-up comedy is more popular than ever before. Originally an American form of entertainment, stand-up is now popular all across the globe. Hosting stand-up comedy shows is a great way to increase your footfall and win over new loyal customers. And, while you’re at it, make sure you have your restaurant reservation system in check so that you can ensure attendance even before the show starts.
- Arrange the space: Good lighting and a sound system are important for optimal performance.
- Consider the audience: Stand-up can vary from clean, family-friendly to extra dirty. Ensure the jokes are in line with your audience’s expectations.
- Set the line-up: If you’re having multiple comedians, order the line-up appropriately. Start with the less experienced comedians and end with the most popular act.
- Promote the event: Use all of your restaurant marketing tools to let your customers know about the event.
- Host: Choose a charismatic host to introduce the comedians and engage the audience between acts. The host can be one of the comedians or a member of your staff.
- Get Feedback: After the show, ask for feedback from your audience. This will help you make future shows even more successful.
9. Make It Spooky With a Horror Night to Entice a Younger Audience
Host horror nights to bring in a younger generation of customers. Consider serving tasty foods like chicken wings, creating themes that match the ambiance, including visual elements like candlelit tables, and serving craft beer. As always, make sure to review your restaurant marketing plan before you host the event.
10. Livestream Big Sporting Events & Incorporate Special Deals for Groups
You don’t have to be a sports bar to host a sports live event. When hosting one, you might want to consider offering special deals that could entice sports fans to choose your place over others. Offer special snack bundles and an array of craft beers to satisfy craft beer fans.
If the event proves to be a huge hit, consider promoting it on the local radio station next time around!
- Diversify your audience and win new customers.
- Boost repeat business by organizing recurring events accompanied by a restaurant loyalty program.
- Build relationships with customers.
- Great opportunity to promote your restaurant.
- Build on the idea and consider streaming other special events, like the Oscars or Grammy’s.
11. Offer Happy Hours & Freelancer Specials!
Offer special deals for remote workers to entice them to keep returning to your place. The good thing is, you don’t need to do much. Consider adding free coffee or tea refills, half-price croissant or cake deals, and a good value brunch. Make sure to send out regular reminders through your restaurant sms marketing software to get your freelancers to leave their cozy beds and work from your place instead!
- Snack & Surf: Offer discounted appetizers or small plates with a few hours of guaranteed high-speed WiFi usage.
- Networking Happy Hour: Once a week, encourage freelancers to network by offering group discounts on food and drinks.
- Healthy Boost Bundle: Pair a health-conscious meal or snack (like a salad, wrap, or fruit bowl) with freshly squeezed juice or smoothie.
12. Host Wine-tastings to Diversify Your Audience
Wine tasting is one of the go-tos whenever you’re running dry on restaurant entertainment ideas. It’s a great way to lighten up any Friday night and teach guests a thing or two about wine.
Wine tastings are also considered to be a sort of exclusive event. Offer a variety of wine samples and build a VIP reputation!
- Prepare tasting notes that detail the name of the wine, the region it’s from, the flavor profile, and potential food pairings.
- Serve small bites that complement the wines being tasted.
- Set the proper tasting order.
- Advertise your wine-tasting event well in advance.
- Offer the wines tasted for purchase at a special price.
13. Host Cultural Nights That Highlight Different World Cuisines or Traditions
Host cultural and traditional events to broaden your customer base and boost your brand’s visibility. These events create an immersive dining experience that showcases diversity and inclusivity. Additionally, they transform your restaurant into a dynamic community hub, enabling your patrons to explore and appreciate different cultures, setting your establishment apart from the rest.
- Italian Night: Serve traditional Italian dishes like pasta, risotto, and gelato. Play Italian music, and decorate with Italian flags and images of iconic Italian landmarks.
- Mexican Fiesta: Celebrate Mexican culture with a taco bar, enchiladas, and margaritas. Consider hiring a mariachi band for authentic Mexican music.
- French Wine and Cheese Night: Host a wine tasting with French wines paired with a selection of French cheeses. French music and decor could add to the atmosphere.
- Greek Night: Provide traditional Greek foods like souvlaki, moussaka, and baklava, accompanied by Greek music and maybe even some plate smashing!
14. Host or Participate in Charity Events to Improve Your Community Image
Invite patrons to join you for a charity event. Raise money for a cause and build a sense of community. Consider inviting a local celebrity to boost your reach. Offer good food, a special menu, and pass the revenue to a charity. You can broadcast live on your socials to create extra buzz, letting guests know that they’re taking part in something important.
- Set clear goals and be clear about them in all your communications.
- Make sure the event aligns with your chosen charity and your restaurant’s style.
- The charity organization might be able to offer resources and help promote the event.
- Spread the word through social media channels, email newsletters, website, and local press.
- Your staff should be able to answer questions and actively engage with attendees.
- Have a plan in place for accepting donations in all payment forms.
- Share the results of the fundraiser and any photos from the event.
15. Build a Loyal Customer Base With Open Mic Nights
Open mic nights create a vibrant, engaging atmosphere that attracts a diverse crowd, often bringing in new patrons who might not have visited otherwise. By hosting an open mic night, you’re creating a platform for local talent to perform, fostering a sense of community and local involvement that can enhance your restaurant’s reputation and appeal.
- Set a date and time: Choose a suitable day and time, typically a slower night.
- Advertise: Promote the event using your restaurant marketing tools.
- Set up: Ensure you have a proper sound system, stage area, lights, and comfortable seating.
- Registration: Create a sign-up process for performers, either in advance or on the night.
- Host: Have a charismatic host to introduce performers and engage the audience.
- Rules: Set time limits for each performer and communicate any content restrictions.
- Support performers: Encourage your staff and patrons to show their support for the performers.
- Manage sound levels: Monitor the sound to ensure it doesn’t overpower conversation.
- Feedback: Ask for feedback from patrons and performers to improve future events.
- Competition can be really rough. It won’t hurt to keep a couple of restaurant entertainment ideas at hand at all times.
- It’s really important to remain consistent. Plan a few months ahead and keep your event calendar busy.
- If your service is poor, you’re not going to win over too many customers, regardless of how many events you organize. Make sure your service is high quality!
- Take advantage of increased footfall to get new customers onto your restaurant loyalty program.
- Don’t do a sloppy job. Do your best and prepare meticulously. You either win new customers or miss out on them, and it’s tough to get a customer back once you’ve