DOES LIVE ENTERTAINMENT HURT OR HELP RESTAURANTS? By Maximillien de Lafayette
A large number of readers and friends of mine who were interested in opening a restaurant catering to clientele which loves good food and live music kept on asking for my opinion (s) about whether a live entertainment on the premises would and could help or hurt their restaurant business? Is live entertainment a good formula? In other words, having a chanteuse, a singer or a band in your restaurant would bring more business, more clients, more money to your restaurants? Would the talents of a singer (male or female) and a good band sell what your great chef cooks? Would music sell food in your restaurant? Here is, what I think, is the bleeding truth and the right answer to your question. Answer built upon years and years of experience of owning and managing my own restaurants, bars and clubs, such as "Le Marquis de Rochambeau" , a Parisian -American cabaret which lasted 10 years.
Another sweet Parisian small and cozy restaurant "Paris Chez Nous" and a large cabaret-restaurant-dance floor "Paris Bisous".
If your place becomes known and sought for its live music and acts, you will loose the food business. Your place becomes a drinking, a bar-club joint. It does not matter, if you still have the world's best chef. People will not come to your place to eat. Because the live music took over. People think that your joint does not offer the kind and quality of food, usually they find in other "purely" restaurants, where the "food is the main attraction and assets of the restaurants". Your magnificent restaurant becomes a bar, a cabaret! And this could totally jeopardize you business, worst, it could put you out of business, because a restaurant cannot survive without selling food.
Don't change the formula of your place. If you start as a traditional restaurant, then, stay in the food business. Let your place be known and recognized for its food, chef and hospitality services, NOT for its singer, band or live music. If you start as a boite, a nightclub, a cabaret, then, capitalize and focus on MUSIC and ACTS. The food becomes secondary. In a restaurant you sell FOOD. In a bar or a cabaret, you sell ALCOHOL, as simple as that. If you understand this, everything becomes clear to you. Do you want to start and or keep your place as a restaurant? Then, hire a great chef, design a very a propos menu, have a good selection of wine, train well your staff, offer good client service and above all, make sure that your prices are reasonable and the general ambiance of your restaurant is welcoming and appealing to customers. Forget about live entertainment.
If you want to open a cabaret-restaurant, or simply a cabaret-boite, then, try to understand that the MOST IMPORTANT THING in your joint is ENTERTAINMENT; meaning good quality singers, music, band, acts, entertainment, stand-up comics, you name it.