How One Restaurant is Testing Eatertainment

Image: P.F. Chang's

So, you want to take advantage of eatertainment’s growing popularity but don’t know how or where to start.

Casual-dining restaurant chain P.F. Chang’s may be showing us the way.

Two weeks ago, on Halloween night, the Asian-themed chain launched Chang’s After Dark, a late-night program.

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The brand’s Brickell Village location in Miami was transformed from restaurant to nightlife-focused eatertainment hotspot. At 11:00 PM, the lights came down in the bar and lounge area, along with black curtains to frame the area. Live entertainment in the form of a DJ further altered the regular P.F. Chang’s atmosphere.

Just over two weeks later, Chang’s After Dark is still being executed by the Brickell Village location. At 11:00 PM on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, guests age 21 and older can experience Chang’s After Dark until 4:00 AM.

There’s no word yet on whether P.F. Chang’s plans to include additional locations in this promotion.

Regardless, the restaurant chain has shown other operators a cost-effective way to test the viability of eatertainment for themselves. In the case of this particular restaurant, a venue can undergo transformation without renovation.

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No bowling lanes were installed. No arcade games or ping-pong tables were brought in. Instead, the location created craft cocktails and bites exclusive to the late-night promotion. Live entertainment is leveraged in the form of a DJ, and bottle service is available.

To help market their new concept-within-a-concept, P.F. Chang’s launched a standalone branded webpage and social media profiles on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They also made an announcement via a press release.

Chang’s After Dark, at least at the Brickell Village location, is helping P.F. Chang’s accomplish two things. First, the activation shows guests a new side of an established brand. Second, it provides guests who initially used the location as a restaurant the opportunity to continue their evening out—and a different guest experience—without leaving.

We analyzed SevenRooms’ “The New Nightlife” report back in August of this year. Using the data revealed in that report, we know that 34 percent of Americans will leave a venue if it doesn’t offer food. We also know that a third of Americans prefer a single venue that offers convenient and efficient service, entertainment and activities, and food and drink.

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SevenRooms discovered that 32 percent of Americans are more likely to choose a venue they’ve been to previously than someplace new, and a quarter report that they’ve had more fun at venues that combine food, drink and activities that they do at more traditional venues.

Chang’s After Dark ticks all of those boxes:

  • Clearly, the venue offers food. New items were introduced for this promotion, and a number of favorites are also available.
  • New cocktails, including shareable “spiked punches” and boozy milkshakes, create buzz for the exclusive late-night drink menu.
  • Bottle service provides guests with a new way to experience P.F. Chang’s, which they were previously familiar with as a “traditional” restaurant.
  • Live entertainment gives restaurant diners a reason to stay and check out the new concept.

And then, of course, there’s this statistic that should be compelling to operators: 21 percent of Americans will spend more at an eatertainment venue than a traditional bar or nightclub.

Operators seeking to execute a similar experiment at one or more of their venues will need to take costs and staffing needs into account. Creating new menu items, increasing inventory, and training staff will increase costs. Some operators who don’t normally stay open past 11:00 PM or midnight may see the need to hire new FoH and BoH staff, including security staff, to support late-night operations.

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Of course, some operators ready to expand and open an additional unit may want to create a brand-new eatertainment concept. We’re certainly all for that! But for those not quite ready to expand, a simpler transformation similar to Chang’s After Dark may be the best path forward.

Resources

Chang’s After Dark webpage

Chang’s After Dark Facebook

Chang’s After Dark Instagram

Chang’s After Dark Twitter

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