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Do Themed Restaurants Have Place in The Industry

Bonji Foods Aficionado Smart Brief: Volume 63


Hi all, welcome back to the Bonji Food Aficionado Smart Brief! Happy Tuesday and we hope you had an amazing weekend! The restaurant industry isn't usually one to thrive off of quick fads, however, it seems that themed restaurants have carved out a section in the restaurant world. The concept of themed restaurants began in the 1980s and lasted through the late 1990s, but they got corny… and fast. They would come and go, mainly due to fads leaving them behind, as well as typically serving mediocre food. Yet, in 2018 it seemed that the themed restaurant was making a comeback.

Star Wars Themed Restaurant

Themed Restaurants Leaving Fads Behind To Become a Staple In the past, Rainforest Cafe, Margaritaville, and Planet Hollywood were two of the biggest chain restaurants in the USA. They both played on a theme and stuck to it. However, they eventually began to struggle to stay at the top of minds when thinking about dinner selections. “Theme restaurants are usually short-term fads and the restaurant industry does not thrive on short-term fads. They may be initially successful, but the novelty wears off quickly and then all that’s left is average-tasting food that’s not worthy of the price.” -Gary Stibel, CEO of The New England Consulting Group What's behind the major comeback of themed restaurants? Well, one major factor points directly to social media. The idea of being able to Instagram your food in a special environment has taken over completely. Many restaurants are still playing into the big overarching themes; like Hello Kitty, Star Wars, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and much more. Yet, they have taken it even a step further in some cases. With a subtle change to the traditional restaurant business model, owners are making a killing with their new themes. Instead of simply opening every night, they are seen as more exclusive. Sometimes selling tickets for the night, host a show or guest, and paying close attention to detail. Truly fascinating, these themed restaurants have shaken up the industry. I personally wouldn't be surprised if you start seeing more “exclusive” restaurants selling hard-to-come-by tickets for either special evenings or simply their regular dinners. By the way, the food is generally included in the ticket sale, but cocktails and merchandise are all separate. Finally, what truly makes these themes work is the emotional connection they have with customers. Restaurants, in general, should work tirelessly to make a deep bond with their customers, as loyalty and returning customers are everything. But there is something about a theme from pop culture that sticks with its fans like nothing else. Now, we aren't saying go out of your way to have a theme at your establishment, but it's something to keep an eye on as themed restaurants are slowly becoming a societal staple.

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