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Today, customers are hungry for more than a great meal. They want a generous side of entertainment. So, dish up what they’re craving with 7 live event ideas for restaurants. Plus, get a 1-page event checklist and 5-step guide to event planning. Let’s get live!

Live Event Ideas for Restaurants: 4 Bottom Line Benefits of Entertainment

It’s true that a successful event takes a little planning. So why put forth the effort? Here are just a few reasons:

  1. Add Value Through Fun: In the National Restaurant Association 2017 State of the Industry Report, 61% of adults said they’d rather spend money on an experience than an item. The best live event ideas for restaurants add value to every guest visit – by adding fun.
  2. Give ‘Em a Reason to Come In: Live event ideas for restaurants give guests a reason to pick your place over the competition. Hosting an event is also an opportunity to benefit from free Facebook exposure (seriously). If you set up a Facebook event, Facebook will “suggest” your event to those in the area…for free.
  3. Win Over Millennials: An Accenture 2017 Loyalty Study found that 47% of millennials (those 24-35) are more loyal to businesses that provide creative, unique experiences and events.
  4. Become Their Habit: When thinking about live event ideas for restaurants, focus on recurring events that drive repeat traffic.

How to Turn Live Event Ideas for Restaurants…Into Reality

Before diving into the 7 best live event ideas for restaurants, it’s critical that you have an event plan.

Unless you can afford to hire an outside event planning company (lucky you), you’ll be running the event yourself. But no worries. Many restaurants are turning to the 5-STAR event planning guide. This free guide includes a 1-page event checklist and 27 more live event ideas for restaurants.

Download the Supreme Guide to Hosting Live Events, Here

7 Live Event Ideas for Restaurants

It’s no accident. You won’t find “hire a live band” on this list of event ideas. Instead, these out-of-the-box ideas were created to get people talking – and walking into your place on the regular.

1) Arts and Crafts

DIY craft nights are trending as live event ideas for restaurants, with good reason. Guests enjoy a social experience and get to take home a painting, potted planed, or even a decorated pint glass.

Start with Plant Nite. You bring in the host, who charges guests for supplies and instruction directly. The host guides participants in potting their own terrarium. Plant Nite claims venues can expect a $300-$700 increase in food and drink revenue. No wonder Plant Nite is sprouting up as one of the best live event ideas for restaurants.

2) Watch Party

People are passionate about their shows. Whether it’s The Walking Dead or Grey’s Anatomy. Turn a hit cable TV show into a repeat live event with a “watch party.” Whip up a menu to match the show’s theme (zombie cocktail, anyone?).

Quick note: HBO, Netflix, Showtime, and other premium channels do not allow restaurants or businesses of any kind to show their content. Stick with basic cable TV live event ideas for restaurants to stay safe.

3) Live Trivia Tournament

Q) What’s one of the best live event ideas for restaurants in need of more midweek business?
A) Live trivia night!

Join thousands of bars and restaurants who are going digital with live trivia night. Instead of pen and paper, guests use handheld tablets to send in their answers. It’s such a simple, fun process that you don’t need to hire an outside host. Your team can run the event – giving them a chance to bond with guests and build loyalty.

4) Dance with the Decade Nights

How about a little old school hip hop to liven up your weeknight scene? Or, go retro with a 1970s disco theme. Mix it up each week or month with live event ideas for restaurants inspired by music (and outfits to match) for a particular decade.

  • Run a costume contest and reward the decade’s best-dressed patron with a gift card.
  • Host your decade theme nights on Thursday to tie into the trending #TBT (throw back Thursday) hashtag on social media.
  • Brainstorm deals to pair with your live event ideas for restaurants. What about offering “throw back” pricing on one drink or appetizer based on the decade? No one will turn down 80 cent chicken wings on 1980s night…

5) Open Mic Night…or Day

It’s no surprise that open mic night would appear on this list of live event ideas for restaurants. But have you considered an open mic comedy night? Or, what about an open mic “day”? Invite the musically gifted to take the stage and perform an acoustic song or two during Saturday or Sunday brunch.

6) Mini Cooking or Bartending Classes

Give your crew the spotlight – and show off their skills. Ask your bartender to run a 30-minute mixology course where they teach guests how to whip up the perfect martini. Of course, put that drink on special. Don’t forget your chefs! Try a weekly “chef demo” where your culinary geniuses share tips for making pasta, secrets for grilling meat, and other insider advice.

These live event ideas for restaurants also give guests a chance to bond with your staff, creating relationships and boosting loyalty.

7) Play Matchmaker

Mobile dating apps like Tindr and Bumble are great for singles. But so are live event ideas for restaurants that focus on finding love. Host a monthly “stoplight party” so all patrons can partake. Those in a relationship wear red. If it’s complicated? They wear yellow. Singles sport green.

You can apply the matchmaking concept to other live event ideas for restaurants. What about a speed networking event? Reach out to your local chamber of commerce or area tip clubs.

If you’re still wanting more live event ideas for restaurants, we’ve got you covered. Just check out the Supreme Guide to Hosting Live Events and you’ll score 27 event concepts – just for restaurants and bars. Put them into play at your business, then get ready for the crowds!