Play With Your Food: The Growing Gaming Restaurant Trend

At the time of this writing, legendary toy retailer Toys ‘R’ Us is liquidating its assets toward a complete company closure. It’s a sad time for adults who relish the memories of wandering the aisles of games and toys – many of whom still enjoy doing so. But, thanks to a growing trend of gaming restaurants and bars, the fun doesn’t have to end.

While bar gaming and trivia nights are hardly a new development, restaurants are quickly following suit. And who can blame them? The more fun your customers have in your establishment, the more likely they are to stay for more food, a little extra dessert, and even a nightcap. Your restaurant’s food might be the star of the night, but the night doesn’t have to end when the plates are cleared.

Forward-thinking restaurants are bringing nostalgic board games, classic video games, and even organized, hosted trivia contests to the table, to accompany world-class dining and top-tier customer service.

Let’s look at a few examples of how restaurants are expanding their customer bases with gaming restaurants.

1- Video games

Our parents may not have liked them for us. And you may not like them for your kids. But most of today’s 30-50-year-olds have fond memories of heroic plumbers, speedy hedgehogs and stacking digital bricks to Russian music.

Video games are a huge part of our childhoods, and many gaming restaurants are capitalizing by bringing tabletop versions to their seating areas, to allow adults to kick back and enjoy their night while waiting for food to arrive. Whether this comes in the form of a custom tablet POS system or a more-advanced screen setup, users can easily engage (or ignore) these entertainment options.

Some establishments, such as the successful Dave & Buster’s or Jillian’s franchises take this concept to another level, building adult-themed arcades, replete with exclusive games, carnival attractions and even laser-tag to accompany a night out. Perhaps these aren’t fine dining restaurants, but they certainly offer users a fine night out of the house.

2- Board games

For a quieter, more interactive evening at the table, some customers enjoy the resurgent board game scene, which has grown alongside recent video game restaurants, hitting all the right notes with nostalgic customers.

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At these specific gaming restaurants, guests can grab a well-kept version of Battleship, checkers, Sorry or any other vintage title, and open it right up at the table. Extra large tables allow for the games to stay out of the way of the food, but still, allow the boards to be accessible whenever the game starts up again. You’d be amazed at the laughter and memories a simple board game can provide – which is only made better with a great meal and sinful cocktails.

3- Trivia and gambling

Long a staple of sports bars looking to beef up slow weeknights, trivia-themed nights at gaming restaurants are growing in popularity. Because not only do these interactive experiences help boost enjoyment at each table, but they also promote spirited conversation between strangers, thanks to camaraderie and healthy competition.

Whether it’s through teamwork between tables or being inclusive to smaller parties, everyone is welcome to join in… and many new friendships can be formed. Naturally, this also means these new friends are likely to return in the very near future.

In fact, some gaming restaurants are even spicing things up by including gambling or cash prizes, to incentivize guests to stay longer (and hopefully spend more along the way).

Of course, if you’re considering adding a gambling element to your game night, be sure to obtain the right licenses and permits, so your exciting new restaurant doesn’t get shut down prematurely.

While Toys ‘R’ Us might be going away, our desire for nostalgia hasn’t wavered. Restaurants looking to add a new dimension to their existing restaurants are quickly turning to games and interactive events. And judging by the growth of this trend, there’s a lot of success to be had for restaurants looking to expand their customer bases.

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