Eating out is about entertainment too. Granted, finding a mouth-watering filet mignon or burger might be enough, but the environment helps, right? I mean I have to down that filet in a beautiful setting, not in a fleabag dive. It’s the visual, aural, taste and smell that does it for me when eating out. Perhaps I’m naïve, but could there be any renewed viability of restaurants or bars built entirely around ultra popular entertainment properties or celebrities with staying power?
We all remember the incredible success of Planet Hollywood. Not. Chuck E Cheese doesn’t exactly evoke nirvana. Is it better to have the fast food sector—who knows how to market and serve food—license the latest theme from Hollywood to promote its Happy Meals? Or is there potential growth in new concepts built entirely around an über theme?
Come on, I’m talking Pixar Pizza, Harry Potter’s Hofbrau and Batman Burgers. Woody’s Waffles not doing it for you? What about Shrek’s Soup Kitchen? The sheer fun of a Harry Potter dining experience would be truly fun for kids and families. Would we go there once a week? Once a month? I could personally go nuts coming up with the menu. I can see endless trips to the Salad Stun Bar at “Star Trek 10 Forward” and food dispensers that magically materialize your tray of desired food.
Perhaps these sorts of kitsch concepts should be relegated to theme parks—where they belong, and not tie up good capital as trendy boondoggles. The added licensing fees would cramp the ever thinning margin. It seems like the restaurant sector, especially Casual Dining, could use a shot in the arm. Maybe all the industry needs is a shakeout, better quality food and better service. What do you think?