Dinner and a show’ has assumed a new meaning, so this week Julie-anne Sprague goes out to dinner in her dancing shoes.

THE expression ‘there’s no business like show business’ has resonated with several restaurant operators, who are basking in the limelight of success following the introduction of entertainment to their operations.

While restaurateurs say there are no huge returns to be made by providing entertainment, there is certainly market exposure.

Friends Restaurant co-owner Clyde Bevan has always incorporated entertainment in his restaurant ventures and believes it’s a necessity in today’s economic climate.

“The economy is so tight and people are price conscious. People will spend money, and good money, but they will spend it on a good time and value for money,” Clyde says.

“We’ve had a whole mixture over the past five years here at Friends. We’ve got on a roll with the main contemporaries. People want a good time.

“When there is no dance floor and people get up and dance among the tables, it’s a sight to be seen.

“Our ‘e nights’ have grown from the wine dinner. Food and wine is still really important, we’ve just added entertainment to it. People get a bit bored with wine dinners, it just doesn’t stimulate people to get off their backsides.”

Jojo’s River Restaurant and Cafe co-owner Shane King has seen the benefits of entertainment and has started hiring some of Clyde’s “friends” to perform at the Nedlands restaurant.

“It’s value-adding ... we’ve done different things and started doing Jojo’s wine and food shows on Saturdays, where people come down for the day,” Shane says.

“We decided to do the Tom Jones show about two months ago, and because of the success of it we will continue along that way. Cabaret is back.”

Fraser’s co-principal Chris Taylor hosts a range of events catering to different markets, some so small that it acts as relationship building for his regular customers.

The restaurant hosts a cigar and scotch dinner on August 22 and, according to Chris, some people come to the event even though they don’t smoke cigars.

“You have a lot of knowledgeable talk and its not a big group of people, its amazing,” Chris says.

“They work because they are pretty selective and we target the right market. They’re not boozy, you can do it socially, its fun and people use it as networking.”

Chris says entertainment nights provide market interest as well as staff involvement.

“I don’t really make any money out of them, however I want to cover costs, but it’s to be seen and to be in the market,” he says.

“It keeps the energy and momentum going within Fraser’s and we try different things.”

Owner of Oceanus and Driftwood Winery, Tom Galopoulos, says there is a lack of places in WA that provide a good night out.

“People get very excited. We had one table with 12 women and one of them had written a poem about this singer [performing at the restaurant] years and years ago and was just so excited. People love it. They love the shows and the art,” he says.

The cost of these entertainers can set restaurant owners back up to $3000 but, when their restaurant is at capacity and is top-of-mind to consumers, they say it’s money well spent.

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