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An evening at the theatre is an event. It’s not a last-minute plan, it’s a calendar entry you count down to. You fight online for tickets, you get dressed up to the nines, and you might even book hotels. It’s no secret that pre-show drinks are part of the course, and surely you’re not drinking on an empty stomach, so reservations at a swanky cocktail bar and restaurant are needed. Better yet, imagine if the theatre itself had its own bar and restaurant.

Cleverly designed dining and drinking areas within theatre spaces can significantly enhance guest experiences, going beyond the performance itself.  If you’ve got a board to battle with over the budget to build a bar and restaurant within your theatre, we’re lending a helping hand for your pitch — keep reading for 3 reasons why bars and restaurants at theatres improves your guest experience.

Pre-show social hubs

There’s nothing we like better than delicious food and drinks with even better company. Don’t lose out on extra revenue by sending your guests elsewhere before the show, bring them and their friends in for pre-show dining and socialising. It offers more than just a meal; it crafts entire evenings of anticipation, excitement, and indulgence. So guests are likely to flock back to your theatre for their next show.

Creating pre-show social hubs can foster a sense of community and add to the excitement of an evening at the theatre. They encourage lively conversations, heightening a sense of anticipation, fostering community spirit, and connecting like-minded theatre lovers. That pre-show social dining experience transforms visits into immersive affairs.

An added bonus of creating pre-show social spaces for drinking and dining will provide an incremental revenue as well as elevate the experience for the customer. From VIP bars to themed restaurants, they provide platforms for helping your business flourish and grow.

The Circle Restaurant entrance at Birmingham Hippodrome theatre.

The Circle Lounge at Birmingham Hippodrome

Creating atmosphere with ambience, lighting, and themes 

Built-in bars and restaurants don’t have to be boring. They can complement the aesthetics of your theatre. If you’re based in an old ballroom, create a space inspired by that history to bring both your story, and your guest’s experience to life. Alternatively, use spaces as blank canvases for themed restaurant experiences during residencies. Maybe it’s a classic, elegant space for traditional plays, or trendy, contemporary environments for modern productions.

With great atmosphere comes great ambiance and lighting. It all plays a part in creating pleasant dining and drinking experiences, which make for even better theatre experiences. Getting the ambiance just right makes all the difference — it mirrors the theatrical themes and sets the scene, such as intimate, dimly lit spaces for Shakespeare.

Strategic lighting choices in your restaurant and bar spaces complement the ambiance, balancing functionality and aesthetics. Soft, ambient lighting evokes relaxing, inviting moods, encouraging your guests to linger and savour their pre-show experience. On the other hand, adjustable lighting options accommodate all preferences, allowing for flexibility in creating different atmospheres as the evening progresses, from the lively hustle and bustle of a pre-show buzz or a more subdued ambiance during intermission.

Kiln at MAC

Limited-edition experiences

Offering bar and restaurant experiences at your theatre isn’t mutually exclusive. Integrating your drinking and dining offering with your theatre productions can create a seamless synergy and enrich your overall guest experience. These don’t just have to be places to grab a quick bite to eat or a cocktail, they can become extensions of the artistic narrative, enhancing the connection between the audience and the performance before the curtain drops.

Limited edition menus inspired by the production, echoing its themes and design, can deepen the immersion. Imagine enjoying a cocktail menu inspired by the character’s personalities, or dishes from the play’s setting. By offering appetising pre-show experiences, you’re encouraging guests to stay for longer, spend more money, and grow loyalty to your theatre.

These spaces become dynamic venues for pre-show events and post-performance discussions. Think exclusive Q&A’s, meet-and-greats, and talk-back sessions, bringing the audience closer to the actors and directors, amplifying the theatrical experience, and fostering a deeper appreciation for the arts. At the same time, you can charge for these, generating additional revenue whilst heightening the guest experience.

Get in touch to find out how our team can improve your guest experiences.


Author spottydog

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