7 Ways to Increase Check Sizes with Entertainment

It’s competitive out there in the restaurant biz. To attract patrons and increase check sizes, savvy restaurants are serving up food with a side of entertainment. From live trivia events to cooking classes, discover 7 easy ways to raise your restaurant’s fun factor – and boost your bottom line.

1) Let’s Get Live! Live Trivia for the Win

Does your weeknight business need a little TLC? Try live trivia. You could see Friday night crowds (and check sizes) on a Tuesday.

Most restaurants run live trivia nights on a weekly basis. Patrons appreciate an escape from the midweek blues, and restaurants benefit from regular, repeat business.

Go a step further and brand your live trivia night. Got a great craft beer list? Host “Apps, Taps, and Trivia” with specials on shareable appetizers and craft brews. Or, invite local charities to face off in live trivia and reward the winning non-profit with a donation.

How to Try Live Trivia

You can hire live trivia hosts, but they can be pricey. Instead, join thousands of restaurants that host live trivia using their own staff. With Buzztime Trivia LIVE, you get up-to-date questions plus handheld tablets for guests to submit answers. Scoring is fast, automatic, and keeps up the pace of gameplay.

As for the ROI of live trivia? JR’s Pub in Gooseneck, South Carolina launched a weekly live trivia event on Tuesdays and saw check averages increase by 30%. Beef O’Brady’s in Apollo Beach, Florida experienced a 200% increase in pitcher sales.

2) Get Crafty…

So, you host live trivia night on Tuesday – try arts and crafts on Wednesday! Instructor-led craft events are trending at restaurants nationwide. Invite patrons to get their DIY on at your restaurant while they enjoy food and drinks.

How to Host a Craft Event

Like live trivia, you’ve got options when it comes to planning a craft event:

- Looking to grow check sizes? Host a Plant Nite. The Plant Nite instructor brings all the supplies and leads attendees in creating their own terrarium. Again, like live trivia, Plant Nite is a great way to bring in new guests: According to Plant Nite, 89% of attendees will be new to your venue.

- Patrons can channel Picasso and paint a masterpiece during a Paint Nite event. The company states that restaurants see up to $700 in additional revenue per event.

- Got empty wine bottles? Lead guests in one of these 26 DIY wine bottle projects.

Noticing a trend here? The best restaurant entertainment brings guests together for a social experience. Whether it’s Plant Nite or a live trivia brunch, the focus is on interactive fun.

3) …and Get Classy!

School was never this cool. Class it up with instructional entertainment. Similar to live trivia and crafting events, classes give guests a reason to come into your venue – and spend more while they enjoy a lesson in fun.

How to Run a Class

- Taste: Ask your chef to host a monthly cooking demo or series of classes.

- Mix: Your bartender can show patrons how to whip up a different cocktail each week in a mixology 101 course.

- Dance: Help the crowds learn some new moves. Hire a ballroom or hip-hop dance instructor.

- Stretch: Say ommm to a yoga class held during your slowest daypart. Take it outside if you’ve got the space.

- Play: Everyone secretly wants to be a star poker player. Bring in a local expert to teach guests how to play.

The same live trivia tablets can also be used to run a Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournament.

4) Dinner as a Show

Entertaining events – like live trivia, crafts, and classes – can draw a crowd during a set time period. Now, discover ways to make fun the main dish…literally.

Take a cue from the Benihana chain of Japanese steakhouses. Turn dinner into a show starring your staff. You don’t need to go all out. Just find simple ways to weave entertainment into the dining experience. Showstopping meals catch the attention of other diners, who’ll want in on the fun.

Don’t forget your bartenders! Send them to bartender flair school (online of course) where they can learn how to perform exciting tricks for guests.


How to Bring Fun Tableside

Create a signature menu item that involves preparation in front of guests. It could be a large, family-style Caesar salad, with the classic dressing whipped up in a bowl and tossed tableside. Or, try Saganaki – Greek flaming cheese.

Other dishes let guests play and prep their own food. Imagine rolling out a taco cart with all the fixings so each patron can create their own taco. Or, serve up retro-cool fondue (don’t forget dessert fondue featuring fresh fruit and chocolate for dipping).

5) Cater to the Kids

Win the hearts (and wallets) of every parent by entertaining their children. Go beyond crayons and coloring placemats to become their go-to spot for family dinners.

How to Delight Kids – and Their Parents-

- One night a week, bring in a magician to perform a few tricks tableside.

- Have extra space? Create a small kid’s zone with little tables and chairs plus a few toys.

- Hand out restaurant tabletop tablets (yes, the same ones used in live trivia) to every guest – including their kids. These tablets include access to a digital arcade with games for all ages. Parents can challenge their kids to see who gets the highest score in a basketball shootout or car race. According to a Nielsen study, live trivia and digital arcade players spend an average of 21% more per table check.

6) Turn Down for What?

For bigger checks, that’s what. Be strategic with your background or live music entertainment to increase sales.

How Music Can Increase Check Sizes

- Research revealed that slow tempo music gets guests to stick around longer…and spend up to 40% more on drinks.

- Another study shows that classical music played in restaurants increases food sales more than pop music or no music at all. Consider hiring a Spanish guitar player to set a relaxing, sophisticated mood (a nice touch for brunch or happy hour).

- When table turn is a priority, the same study suggests that fast-tempo music gets guests to eat quickly without realizing it.

7) Gamify the Ordering Process

To increase check sizes, make it one big game for guests…

How to Add Fun to the Ordering Process

- Take inspiration from In-n-Out Burger’s legendary “secret menu.” Create extra special variations of a few menu items (price them to match). Then, drop hints about the secret menu on social media. Servers can tell a few patrons to get the word out, too.

- The same restaurant tablets used for live trivia include digital signage software. In a few clicks, you can customize graphics that run on both tablets and your restaurant’s TVs. Use this signage to promote “flash specials” like 50% off desserts or appetizers for just 30 minutes. It adds an element of surprise and fun for guests, while driving impulse buys.


Successful restaurants know that focusing on fun pays off with bigger check sizes. But hosting live trivia and serving up entertaining meals offers another key benefit: increased guest loyalty. Facebook asked over 14,000 adults to describe businesses they love best. The top word used was “quality” followed by…you guessed it…fun.

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Buzztime has delivered on its mission statement for over three decades: bring the best in-venue entertainment to businesses – and the guests they serve. We achieve this by constantly evolving with new technology and integrating the latest trends into our in-demand products.