By now you have likely heard of or participated in the delivery app and home meal kit trend that’s sweeping the nation faster than you can say “Uber Eats.” With the convenience of these services, it seems like Americans don’t want to dine out anymore—that food should be about convenience. However, that isn’t the case. Eating at restaurants is as popular as always.

In 2019, there’s a new trend that’s shaking up the restaurant industry—the “experiential” restaurant. Experiential dining is a remerging trend that’s quickly gaining traction in the industry. The idea behind experiential dining is simple: please the diner’s five senses, not only their tastebuds.

We all know that taste is a huge component in what makes a restaurant successful. But in areas with a constant influx of new restaurants, the competition is stiff. This is why many restaurants have sought out creative avenues to capture customer’s attention.

These innovative establishments thought to ask themselves, “why not go bigger and give the diner a thrill that they can see, smell, hear, feel and maybe even post about on Instagram?”.

Experiential dining has come a long way from the idea of “dinner and a show.” With the convenience of Netflix and takeout, restaurants have to find inventive ways to entertain their patrons. And many are leading the way! Below are five examples of successful experiential dining located in the New York City area.

The Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer

Black Tap is a fun take on your classic burger and shakes joint. With locations in the US, Middle East, Europe, and Asia, they’ve gained international popularity for their concept of a nostalgic burger shop that fuses old-school luncheonette aesthetic with a modern, upscale dining experience.

Black Tap’s success can largely be attributed to their famous “CrazyShake.” The CrazyShake is not your average diner malt. It’s a giant, over-the-top (literally), Instagram-bait milkshake stacked with nearly a bakery shop’s worth of desserts assembled with perfection. The experience of sipping and snapping a picture of this one of a kind milkshake is a huge draw to customers at Black Tap. In addition to their exciting menu items, Black Tap is also known for their mouth-watering burgers and is all about beefing them up (pardon the pun) with a variety of options.

Panna II Indian Cuisine

If you’re in the mood for some Indian cuisine with a side of eye-catching décor, Panna II is the place to be. Located in the East Village, the restaurant prides itself in serving dishes sourced from quality ingredients in an all-year-round setting comprised of thousands of festive string lights.
The restaurant started with a normal amount of Christmas lights during the holidays to give customers a warm and festive feeling. When patrons said they loved the look, Panna decided to go all out. This bold move could have gone south, but ultimately distinguished Panna from the hundreds of Indian restaurants in the area.

Now they draw in customers from all over the world who have seen celebrities post their birthday pictures from the recognizable restaurant background. Who says the Holidays only come once a year?

Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain

When someone says the word “pharmacy” today, what likely comes to mind are the handy drug stores found on every few blocks in NYC. In the 1920s, the term referred to your grandfather’s favorite hangout—where the sodas were cold and socializing was the goal. Brooklyn Farmacy is located in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn and is this century’s take on these classic shops from back in the day. They serve your favorite counter-top treats like ice cream floats and specialty sundaes. With red swirling stools and a working soda fountain, the Farmacy gives customers incentive to skip the drive-thru and sit down for some ice cream.

Trailer Park Lounge

Trailer Park Lounge is probably the only restaurant that won’t be offended if its patrons call it a “total dive.” That’s the whole point. Located in Chelsea, the bar and restaurant are known for their greasy food, cold beer, and over-the-top, tacky décor.

With its tiki bar and plastic, flower-covered walls, the owners had the goal of bringing a little bit of Memphis to New York City. The restaurant prides itself in being known for its decor – Elvis memorabilia and vintage license plates are just of few of the souvenirs that give this unique joint its one-of-a-kind feel. Their menu attracts attention as well, customers find it hard to keep their eyes on the “Mile High BLT.”

La Caverna

Salads and stalactites? There’s a restaurant for that! With an interior decked out in cave-like décor, La Caverna is the perfect spot for those who are looking for some classic American cuisine with an adventurous atmosphere.
The restaurant is located in the Lower East Side and is perfect for booking parties. It serves a variety of small plates and has an extensive drink and hookah list. Plus there’s a dance floor where patrons can break it down under the prehistoric-looking scenery.

By taking advantage of an experience that your restaurant can offer, customers can rave about not only your food but also the thrill of a unique dining atmosphere.

In order to provide an unforgettable experience as these places do, you have to identify a special characteristic that will give diners more than just a meal. It’s important to reflect your business’s personality with whatever creative idea you come up with. Above all, enjoyable experiences are born out of authenticity!