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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Table hoppers & party strollers » » The restaurant magician debate (16 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Countage
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Charlotte
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From my experience restaurants use this type of entertainment on a slower night to build business and differentiate themselves from their competition. They also use entertainment on a busy night for crowd control and to create diversion from the time you are waiting for food or to be seated. Balloon artists, magicians, trivia night, super hero night, Elvis impersonators, DJ, Karaoke, beer pong, casino tables, bands, and solo music acts are just few types of entertainment that I have seen restaurants use. Many of these are paid and also received tips. Even though not all restaurant owners and managers think entertainment may be a good idea there seems to be enough that do that the universal term "restaurant magician" exists. I also believe a magician is a harder sell than other forms of restaurant entertainment.
Mike Maturen
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Michigan's Beautiful Sunrise Side
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I am also putting together the plan to offer table magic for a particular chain in my area. They offer a "kids eat free" night every week. I will be proposing that I be available on Tuesday evening to help keep the kiddos entertained during this time...and perhaps attract more adults to bring their kids in.

Once I have my proposal polished and ready, I will report back.
Mike Maturen
World of Wonder Entertainment
The Magic and Mayhem of Mike Maturen
989-335-1661
mikematuren@gmail.com

AUTHOR OF "A NEW DAWN--Weekly Wisdom From Everyday Life"

member: International Magician's Society
magicalaurie
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Quote:
On Feb 16, 2013, Rocky wrote:
Some feel that a restaurant magician brings a touch of class and ambiance to a local eatery. Some feel it's a desperate attempt to find an audience. As a former restaurant owner, my reasons for having a magician perform in the lounge area was a selfish one... I am also a magician and enjoyed having talented performers who wanted to test out new material and use my establishment as their "lab".
I never paid the magicians as all were well established pros who made their living doing magic. None of them ever felt that a living could be etched from restaurant gigs and only performed at either my invitation (and promise of a free meal) or would request an opportunity to perform based on the need to polish new effects or practice established routines before a paid private show.
Personally, I have watched restaurant magic transform from a talented magician (ie Eddie Fechter) who related to audiences with a gruff yet likable personality and performed primarily in smokey taverns with crowds who ranged from sober young couples on a first date to intoxicated know-it-alls who kept the magician on his toes both with their effects as well as their patience, to well groomed sophisticated gentlemen with expensive suits and expertly crafted props and would find it appaling to produce sponge bunnies from his pockets or perform for audiences under the age of 15.
I read posts regarding the role many magicians feel that they should play as a "house magician". I am even more interested in the opinions of how they should be reimbursed for their services. I never expected a magician to act as an "ambassador" to my restaurant. That was my wait staffs job as well as my own (obviously). The magicians were provided to do card tricks and other close-up magic suitable to the work space (bar or table top).I never expected them to seat customers, bus tables, or any other job my waitstaff was paid to be doing. If any magician did these things it would appear that my staff was incompetent during the busy hours of the evening.I would ask any performer leave my establishment if I caught him providing these services just as I would a waitstaff if I caught him/her doing magic tricks for the customers.From my viewpoint,I wanted customers to rave about the food and the service, not the card tricks.If people were coming back to watch the magician pull coins out of thin air rather than the meals my chef prepared then I knew I had a problem. Fortunately this dilemma never happened.The magicians were not bringing people back to my restaurant, it was the food and waitstaff. That is the primary reason people go out to eat.I sometimes wonder where magicians get the idea that they can approach a struggling dining establishment and increase the customer base because they can do a perfect half pass.I have news for you. The owner of a struggling restaurant is not going to rely on a magician or any other type of performer to increase business.It dosent make good business sense to spend money on a performer in lieu of improving the ambiance or, more importantly,the menu.If they do, they don't belong in the world of restaurant ownership.
I also never paid the magicians. As I noted earlier...reason being that all were genuine working pros. I have found it difficult to find restaurant magicians in the many cities I travel to. When I do come across this rare occurance, I often ask the manager/owner what he/she feels is a fair rate to give the magician. The average rate is between 30-50 bucks per hour. One restaurant owner in Rochester, New York also informed me that he forbid the magicians who worked in his place to accept tips. If they did,he fired them. The reason was that he felt his waitstaff, busboys, and kitchen staff worked their butts off to make the dining experience the best it could be for his customers. Any tip that the customer gave the magician was at the very least a portion of a tip that should rightfully go to the people who work hard to make the dining experience the best that it can be.
The fact is that there are tens of thousands of successfful restaurants in this country alone that accomplish their success without a house magician. On the other hand,there are a handful of restaurant magicians who seem to invoke that the restaurant industry needs these performers and that it can be a lucrative professsion.Maybe I'm old fashioned and would rather watch a gruff old guy in the lounge perform a couple of tricks for me and my friends while we have a few drinks and appetizers rather than have someone approach us in the dining room with a classy set of engraved silver cups and a high tech I.T. reel cleverly strapped somewhere to his clothing and demanding 150.00 per hour when the poor waitstaff are busting their hind ends to make minimum wage and sometimes even less!. What's your opinion?


I've seen the $150 and wonder where these guys work. I'm in a small town, considering a rate and I've been thinking I can't see them going higher than $25.00- $30.00/ hour. Guess I was on mark there. We'll see.
Dannydoyle
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The rate you can get is the rate you can get. If it is $25 or $30 an hour, well that is the rate.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
magicalaurie
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Quote:
On Feb 18, 2013, davidpaul$ wrote:
From my experience, there is not a whole heck of allot of qualified magical entertainers to service the demographic you site and the restaurants that I've talked to have never heard of close-up table-side magic, let alone seen close-up magic themselves. Most people, a huge percentage, have never seen a close-up magician in person.


Indeed.
MeetMagicMike
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Gainesville Fl
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I'm very happy performing magic in family restaurants for kids and adults. The three restaurants that employ me are happy with what I do. My regular customers know me by name and request me at their table. People often call the restaurant to make sure I will be there when they have special guests in town.

I get paid a fee that the restaurants and I agree on. I accept tips if offered but never solicit them.

It boggles my mind that any one would actually be against an arrangement that works. If you don't want to work in restaurants then DON"T WORK IN RESTAURANTS.

If you own a restaurant and don't want magicians then simply don't hire magicians. No one is attempting to force magicians on your restaurant.

I don't happen to like the smell of seafood. So you know what? I don't go to seafood restaurants. But at the same time I don't have a low opinion of seafood restaurants or even of seafood. It's ok that there are different restaurants with different atmospheres.
Magic Mike

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inhumaninferno
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The Restaurant Magic Business promo video that Eaton posted is, imho, simply fantastic. If anyone has not watched it, do yourself a favor and take a look. Impressive in format, content and production! It is powerful. Fantastic, highest quality all the way around.

For Skip Way: With your 5 night a week restaurant schedule and often being booked into country clubs on weekends, how in the world do you schedule in those additional bookings that you garner from the people that see you at your restaurant gigs?
Dick Oslund
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Maybe he has a "double"~! hee hee
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Brainbu$ter
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Indianapolis, IN
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Quote:
On Feb 17, 2013, Rocky wrote:
I often wonder why ventriliquists, mimes, and comedians don't do walk around at restaurants? Is it perhaps that they are more capable of bringing an audience to them in a theater style production as opposed to "forcing " their art on unsuspecting diners?

...I would have folks come into hear the music that never patronized my restaurant and probably never would unless it wasnt for the local and popular music act. I also had a clasical pianist for many years. I wonder how my customers would have reacted if he strolled through the restaurant with an electric keyboard and played for each table independently???..kind of sounds bizarre:).


1. You've got it backwards, Rocky.
The benefit of a walk-around magician is precisely that--UNLIKE karaoke, piano, accordion, etc.--the entertainment is NOT "forced onto" the diners. If a diner doesn't want to see entertainment, he/she can shoo away the magician.
If it's a seasoned, professional magician, he will likely not even approach that table).

2. You are aware of patrons who came in because of a music act. That means little because you are unaware of all the potential patrons who decided against your restaurant because of the "forced onto them" music act.
You've got a bias in your data pool--a sample bias.

I have many times opened the door to a restaurant, heard the music/entertainment/loud accordion player/even the loud TVs playing sports, and then I'VE WALKED OUT.

You have a blind spot...
You are unaware of customers like me, because we never became your customer.
Customers who walk out don't spend their time informing you that they walked out before even being seated. They didn't like that band, or didn't like the music playing (which is "forced on them").

A patron can shoo away a magician.
A patron can't turn off the bloody music.
Dannydoyle
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Thank God we revived a 3 year old thread.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Rocky
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I'm thrilled it's been revived! So many interesting and intelligent responses...just what I would expect!
MeetMagicMike
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Brainbu$ter,

Very Well said. I like what you said and I like the way you make it easy to read.

Also there is nothing wrong with reviving an old thread.
Magic Mike

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Rocky
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Quote:
On Apr 17, 2018, MeetMagicMike wrote:
Brainbu$ter,

Very Well said. I like what you said and I like the way you make it easy to read.

Also there is nothing wrong with reviving an old thread.



I'm in agreement with MeetMagicMike...
ageo
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Bogota, Colombia
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In case it helps others, I will now share a few of the programs for "mini-shows" that I perform for restaurants and when strolling for adult parties and cocktail events. All fits in my jacket pockets, and enables me to act for a couple of hours, passing from table to table or group to group. When performing in restaurants, I generally use a Chinese "silk" jacket along with black trousers and black shoes. When performing in a less formal manner, I can use almost any jacket, with minor adaptations.

Each mini-show lasts between 3 and 7 minutes, depending on audience and other needs. At times one trick may be omitted if another, for an unexpected reason takes longer.

Most of my acting takes place in Spanish. For that reason, my patter is in that tounge. When I perform in English, I translate directly the words and stories into English. If there is some interest, I will comment further.

A Routine (Bills)
Everybody Wins [Julian Mather's]
Repeated Bill Count
Cut and Restored Bill [€500, large denomination borrowed bill or check]

B Routine (Cards)
Color Changing Card-Deck - [Indian shuffle, Tarbell style]
Cats and Mouse Cards [adult's version]
Signed Card to Wallet [After Ken Kelly]

C Routine
3 Cords of Different Length
Burnt and Restored Restaurant Napkin (or handkerchief)
Invisible Deck [using Kraft bag]

D Kids' Routine
Duck-Rabbit Cards
Cats and Mouse Cards [kid's version]
Handkerchief through Ears

E Cards Only Routine
Birthday Card
Shot at Card
Origami Card
Boxed Card [Svengali Deck]

Extras to add or change
Ling Kai Fu Chinese Paper Tear [Tarbell's]
Sponge Balls [Several options, mainly based on Nadjib Haffaf]
Thimble [Multiple routines, improptu]
Coins [Ecuatorian half dollars- multiple routines..]
Tricks with table napkins and silverware [several] ie.: flexible knife
Tricks with salt shaker [several]
Paper Trick with paper napkin [several]

I hope this helps.

Cordially yours,

Alberto Lobo-Guerrero S.
Mago "Tato"
Bogota, D.C., Colombia
Dannydoyle
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Ummm you have just defined restaurant magic as most of us understand it.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
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