Cinemas Join Eatertainment

National Amusements Inc. has had test Sbarro pizza restaurants in seven of its upscale cinemas in New York and Ohio. Sales have exceeded expectations, so the company has announced it will roll out the concept in 19 additional cinemas by the end of the year.

Traditionally, modern stadium-seating cinemas have found themselves surrounded by restaurants or located near mall food courts that tapped into the before- or after-movie dining market. National Amusements has realized that it can now capture some of those dining dollars and profits, as well as increase the convenience and appeal of the movie-going experience.

LBEs such as family entertainment centers have for years operated with this same paradigm as cinemas, offering their guests only a concession stand and leaving meal occasion sales and profits to restaurants. The food offerings at most LBEs are so limited and unappealing to modern consumers that guests leave when mealtime rolls around.

For years, White Hutchinson has realized the importance of quality food and beverage not only to attracting guests and increasing their length-of-stay, but to overall guest satisfaction and driving frequency of visits. All the LBEs we have produced for clients offer quality food in café settings. And the new ones we have on the drawing boards or under development will offer even more extensive food offerings. As we have been writing in this eNewsletter, food is probably more important today to attracting guests than entertainment. The LBE industry's conventional wisdom continues to be, to the industry's detriment, that entertainment is the anchor and food is an impulse sale. We maintain, based upon our extensive industry research and experience, that to survive and thrive in today's competitive and discriminating out-of-home leisure market, LBEs need to totally reverse the paradigm and make food the anchor and the entertainment the impulse sale. Unfortunately, most LBEs continue to clone dinosaurs.