The Rising Appeal of Eatertainment Venues

The Rising Appeal of Eatertainment Venues

There’s a new way to hang out.

Eatertainment (yes, you read that correctly. It’s not a typo 😉) is quickly rising in popularity across the United States. Well-known eatertainment franchises include:

  • Top Golf
  • Dave & Buster’s
  • Punch Bowl Social
  • Bad Axe Throwing

Beyond these nationwide franchises are local venues in cities and towns across the country— each with their own unique concept and experience.

Robert Thompson, former CEO of Punch Bowl Social called the eatertainment category “the most disruptive force in the (restaurant) industry since the launch of fast casual.”

So what is eatertainment anyway? And why is it rising in popularity so quickly? Explore below to learn more about Eatertainment as well as which brands are using powerful technology to drive growth.

Eatertainment 101: More Than Just a Meal

Eating + entertainment = eatertainment. 

Eatertainment, also referred to as “competitive socializing,” is a dining experience that allows guests to do an activity (or multiple activities) while eating and drinking. Eatertainment concepts allow guests to actively interact with their environment through activities such as:

  • Bowling
  • Golf & mini golf
  • Bocce ball
  • Arcade machines
  • Pool & darts
  • Basketball
  • Pickleball
  • Baseball
  • Ax throwing
  • Trivia
  • Ping pong
  • Curling
  • Karaoke
  • Virtual Reality
  • Video Games
The possibilities are endless. In fact, GoodSurf, a surfing wave pool, restaurant, and beer garden venue is set to open in Dallas, TX in 2024— a concept that’s pushing the boundaries of eatertainment and demonstrating what can be possible for future venues.

Even something like Alamo Drafthouse Cinema that allows visitors to order meals and drinks while watching a film is classified as eatertainment, as it combines the traditional activity of going to the movie theater with a restaurant experience.

The Appeal of Eatertainment Restaurants

Eatertainment had a slow rise prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which it came to a halt. But it turns out that two years is a long time for people to be isolated from access to social experiences, so eatertainment is on the rise once again.

At its core, eatertainment is social, which is just one of the many reasons why the restaurant industry has seen mass appeal toward eatertainment concepts.

Appetite for Experiences

After an extended period of isolation during the pandemic, consumers are craving experiences. Millennials in particular prefer to spend their money on experiences rather than “stuff.” 

Eatertainment venues also hold a valuable place in the “third place” movement. The concept of a third place originated in 1989 from the book The Great Good Place by Ray Oldenberg and has gained momentum post-pandemic. 

First places are where you live, second places are where you work, and third places are where you can regularly spend time outside of home and work. Third places are either directly or indirectly social— think a coffee shop where other people are simply around, or an eatertainment venue where guests are directly socializing with those around them.

Quality Food Innovation

Frozen french fries and chicken nuggets aren’t cutting it anymore. The “eat” in “eatertainment” is instrumental for a particular venue’s success. Higher-quality food and innovative menus are a priority for consumers who feel like they’ve seen everything before. 

Quality food offerings also pay off for venues, with many eatertainment venues attributing 75-80% of their sales to food and beverage.

Accommodating for Climate & Seasons

Unfortunately, not everyone can live in sunny San Diego, California, where the average temperature falls between 50 and 75 degrees all year round. In northern climates that experience extreme cold in winter and southern climates that experience extreme heat in summer, residents desire a social place they can spend time at during a season of limiting weather.

Eatertainment venues help replace the experience of playing sports, hosting dinners, and going to festivals outdoors when being outdoors isn’t an option.

"Something for Everyone"

Every family, friend group, couple, and corporate team craves an easy answer to “where do you want to eat?” and “what do you want to do?”

Eatertainment venues offer an easy solution as there’s often something for people of all ages. From corporate team-building outings to birthday parties, eatertainment venues offer a great gathering space for a variety of purposes. Concepts like Dave & Buster’s, Punch Bowl Social, and Smash Park particularly offer a wide range of activities so that visitors can each find something that suits their interests.

Instagrammable Interior Design

Gen Z also prefers experiences over “stuff,” but even more so? Photo and video-worthy experiences

A design-forward space is top of mind for Gen Z and for many Millennials as well. This is another category that’s mutually beneficial. When eatertainment venues prioritize “Instagrammable” designs, the more people will want to share the venue on their social media accounts. And the more people that share the venue on social media, the more free visibility the brand gains.

The Role of Technology in Eatertainment

The food service industry has historically been quite low-tech. However, eatertainment venues are anything but. 

Unique eatertainment concepts don’t just rely on a design-forward venue and great food, they also rely on proprietary technology to bring their concepts to life. 

 Some examples of unique technology in eatertainment include:

  • Top Golf & Puttshack: Chipped golf balls for automated scoring
  • Dave & Buster’s, Main Event, and More: DIGIDECK for automated, personalized, and interactive event proposals
  • F1 Arcade: Racing simulators
  • Electric Shuffle: Camera-vision tech for tracking and scoring shuffleboard pucks

With never-before-seen tech at the cornerstone of the eatertainment industry, it’s no surprise why we’ve seen such a significant boom in intrigue and attendance.


Eatertainment Venues Trust DIGIDECK for Event Proposals

As new eatertainment venues continue to push the boundaries of the restaurant industry, one thing’s for sure— eatertainment isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Between the rise of pickleball and the demand for socialization, eatertainment venues fill a niche category among millennials and Gen Z.

In order to keep up with the demand while still keeping operating costs as low as possible, top eatertainment venues are turning to DIGIDECK to handle custom event proposals. Instead of spending hours on a lackluster PDF proposal with no tracking capabilities, DIGIDECK allows eatertainment restaurants to automatically create and send custom event proposals based on a prospect’s inputs directly from their website. Users have access to analytics that show who opened the proposal, when, and how long they spent on each slide for more effective follow-ups. 

Your eatertainment venue can join the ranks of Dave & Buster’s, Main Event, Shoot 360, BatBox USA, GolfVX, and more to accomplish more with less with the DIGIDECK presentation platform. Wanna check it out for yourself? Schedule a free demo today!

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