Catering to the locals’ love affair with stocks and bargains, Wolf Market in Hong Kong describes itself as “Asia’s stock market bar.” The prices of the drinks fluctuate with their popularity, while the less popular stay cheap. The bar even provides a moving ticker display of real-time changes in drink prices. More people are now looking for ways to combine wine, dine and fun in such a way, and restaurants/bars are expected to serve a form of entertainment as one of their mains. So, as corny as it sounds, ‘eatertainment,’ it is: the portmanteau combining the words ‘eating’ and ‘entertainment’ obviously, a new trend to take off in the food industry.
While it may never feel at all natural to utter the word, many of us are old enough to remember that the concept of it is nothing new. Presented as an argument in the late 80’s in the Harvard Business Review, that businesses must be able to create memorable experiences as those memories are what people are willing to pay for, the idea started taking off in the 90’s in different areas of the United States. Take, for example, Bubba Gump, a ‘Family and Fun’ restaurant inspired by Forest Gump. The food is pretty good at some of its locations, while the major selling point is in the experiencing the film and its characters, by trying on costumes, shopping souvenirs and taking pictures with celebrity emulators.
Having evolved from the idea of ‘experience economy,’ eatertainment is now even more extended to an overall experience of food, service, atmosphere and a story. A good example would be Parker’s in Dubai. To get access to the restaurant, you need to scavenge for a ‘key’ which could be hidden anywhere in the city, with hints posted on Instagram. Now, eatertainment is definitely going global, reaching the city we’re living in, too. Social dining services like Anispoon and Zipbob are becoming increasingly popular as more Seoulites seek to add stories and activities and particular atmosphere to their dining experience. Paint-and-sip events such as Paint Tonight combine drinking and painting classes, while at Witch’s Kitchen you can have spooky Halloween fun on any day of a year. Eatertainment can also incorporate a practical element, as found in Laundry Project located in Haebangchon which offers self-service laundry and café services in one space. When created to be a unique experience of its own delicately combining elements of food, service, atmosphere and story, the package serves essentially as a form of entertainment — even when it involves a mundane activity, that is.