Beyond a good meal: the theatre of experiential dining...

From peeking behind the kitchen curtain to being immersed in a whole different world, Founder & Creative Director Tony Matters discusses the rising popularity of the multi-sensory restaurant experience.

Every industry has to move with the times to survive, none more so than the age-old food and beverage sector. And as we come out of pandemic-induced hibernation, we’ve noticed an increased appetite for experience-based offerings. 

Following the general spending trend of investing in experiences rather than ‘things’, recent years have witnessed a rise in more entertaining offerings. Whether it’s shaking your own cocktail, smashing plates in a Greek restaurant, or dining in the dark, consumers have been wanting more than just food and drink for years. And no more so than lately...

Yes, budgets are set to get tighter. But this could provide an opportunity for the domestic hospitality sector. While people might have to miss out on that fortnight abroad, they may be able to spend on the odd special night out or weekend away instead...

Photo courtesy of Mamma Mia The Party

Building on the popularity of places like Mamma Mia! The Party, (where diners are immersed in performance) and The Pantry Bar (which combines cocktails and competitive baking), lockdown seems to have taken things to a whole new level!

So where can people choose to spend their newfound freedom? Well, a good example is our recent project The Top Hat, London. This Monopoly-themed restaurant and cocktail bar invites people to “come together again, for what we hope will be a delicious nostalgic trip down memory lane”. The art-deco-inspired venue (in homage to the game's origin) offers a quintessentially British tasting menu with landmark-themed cocktails. There’s the option to ‘Take a Chance’ for anyone who'd like their drink selection to be a surprise, as well as little details like edible banknote garnish.

The Top Hat is the food and beverage offering at Monopoly Lifesized, where players of all ages can walk the streets of the iconic board game in a fully immersive 4D challenge. The experience is the brainchild of theatre company Selladoor Worldwide, whose team has collaborated with Hasbro in a great example of pandemic diversification.    

“There's no better way to connect with your customers than by capturing their attention and imagination”

It isn’t a ‘one-off‘ either. There's a definite trend emerging from lockdown and more experiential restaurants are already planned for London. A recently established example is the DC-comic-themed Park Row. As Founder James Bulmer says: "Consumers everywhere are looking for added value, for a story; they’re assuming that the food will be great…but they are asking ‘what else can you deliver to make my night memorable?’”. Mainly focusing on the Batman franchise, Park Row promises top cheffing talent, live entertainment, and technology to meet this demand. 

Photo courtesy of Wonderland Restaurants

So what’s the takeaway from this blog? Well there's no better way to connect with your customers than by capturing their attention and imagination. But this doesn't have to be achieved with overt themes, actors, and CGI. The popularity of shows like Hell's Kitchen demonstrates diners' fascination with the whole restaurant process. Who doesn’t love a bit of theatre from waiting staff? Done well, old-fashioned service (such as meat cutting, lobster shelling, and cocktail making) can get ‘Gen Z’ straight onto TikTok and Millennials posting to Instagram. And of course, kitchen tables are often seen as the ‘best in house’, as older, more affluent diners pay top dollar to see behind the curtain and witness the theatre of food.  

Hopefully this has got you thinking about different ways to engage with your diners. Now more than ever—and no matter their age or budget—consumers are craving fun, interesting, and memorable experiences with the people that matter to them most.

If you want to discuss how we can help turn your ideas into reality, don't hesitate to get in touch by calling  0121 796 2070 or emailing

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