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Mindpro
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Although I've been in entertainment for many years there are still a few markets I have not gained more than a little experience in such as daycares, libraries, and restaurants. Last night we dined at a restaurant that had several types of entertainers several different nights a week.

So my question is, in trying to better understand this, why do restaurants hire or book entertainers? I mean what are the top reasons and benefits that make them spend the money? I'm guessing they probably only spend a couple hundred dollars per night, as we have booked a few acts in restaurants when we've been contacted, but we never marketed to them.

I was trying to figure out who they were there for - the kids, the adults? This wasn't really what I'd consider a family restaurant (it was a steakhouse) and it wasn't on like a Tuesday night "kids night" or "family night". They have a caricature artist one night, a psychic another and a magician on the other. Just trying to get a better understanding from those of you that do this and are in the know.
Robin4Kids
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I think that's a great question. I owned a restaurant in the 70s and I know that on busy nights we would try to turn the tables as quick as we could to avoid long waits. The only time it makes sense is on slow nights to hopefully bring in more business or possibly to keep customers distracted to cover for slow service. Unless you have someone that attracts business, you are just adding to your overhead. Now don't get me wrong, I am glad that restaurants hire magicians and I enjoy seeing them do their work. But normally they avoid my table if they know me to avoid the scrutiny.
Eldon
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I've worked several restaurants over the years. One of my purposes was to fill the void between salad and main course. Like Robin said "cover for slow service". The other thing was I think they just wanted to have something the competition didn't.
Jesse Lewis
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Mindpro,

Here are my thoughts having years ago worked in the restaurant/bar industry for 6 years working my way up. (thank goodness that is over)

1. They "bring in" entertainers to bring people through the doors.
2. They bring them in to fill time for food deliveries/service.
3. They bring them in to be different than other places.
4. The entertainer is working for tips so why not. (Sad but true)
5. In bars the longer a person stays the more they drink. Say you have 100 people drinking 2 drinks per hour and keep them 1 hour you sell 200 drinks but if the entertainment keeps them .5 hours extra you make 3 drinks. That can be a whack of cash over time.
6. To bring people in on traditionally slow nights.
7. The entertainer brings his own crowd and thus sales.

And the only reason a restaurant or bar should ever bring entertainment paid or unpaid in my opinion is to make profit. with Bars its about selling drinks with restaurants it is about selling food anything other than that is not going to the goal of the venue and should be considered with prejudice. If it don't make money, or improve profit do not do it.

Jesse
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Eldon
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I think Jesse is right on except I don't think there are to many restaurant magicians out there that work for just tips.
Al Angello
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Mindpro
Restaurants are where card mechanics work because there is not a lot of call for close up magician at parties.

Restaurants hire entertainers to sell food on off nights, and magicians who work in restaurants do it because they can't get booked in the larger venues.

A close up magician is a lot like a jazz musician.

"A real jazz musician will put a $5,000 horn into a $500 car and drive 50 miles to do a $10 gig" because he loves his art.
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
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http://home.comcast.net/~juggleral/
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InstantMagicBen
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From my experience Bars, clubs and restaurants want magicians to fill, and great a new line to attract kinds and familes
Jesse Lewis
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Not every restaurant magician works for tips that is true but I have met a number of them that do. Some in the "better venues" even share their tips with the owner.


Al is also partially right that these magicians cannot usually get booked in larger venues, we all have to start somewhere right.

Jesse
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G. Batson
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If you consider a bar and grill a restaurant, I was booked to increase liquor sales, primarily at the bar. The handful of these venues I worked over the years were booked with a trial night. If I could show a good ROI on that trial night I was booked for a weekly gig. In all but one case I was booked after a trial. I really believe the gig I did not get was because the GM could not provide a baseline number (liquor sales) for me to compare.
Mindpro
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I get why bars, pubs and nightclubs hire entertainers, that not what I'm talking about. I also know why family restaurants have clowns, ballonists or magicians for kids or family nights. That's also not what I'm talking about.

As I said this was a steakhouse on a Friday night, few kids if any, which is why I was asking. Tips were not involved or accepted, so they must have been getting straight pay. These were professionals, not card or closeup workers that couldn't get better or other work or up and comers, as mentioned above.

I guess it could be to offer something to cover wait time, but was curious if there was more to it, other reasons or benefits or something I was missing?
Keith Raygor
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In my experience, the restaurant's perspective is to offer something unique that has the potential of increasing heads through the door.

There can be additional advantages, such as covering a wait time, etc. but they have more to do with the situation AFTER being being hired, and can be determined by the restaurant, market and magician. But at the decision-making moment, I believe the owners are doing what we do ourselves - identifying and then marketing something unique about the product or service being offered.
eatonmagic
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Quote:
On 2013-08-05 13:03, G. Batson wrote:
If you consider a bar and grill a restaurant, I was booked to increase liquor sales, primarily at the bar. The handful of these venues I worked over the years were booked with a trial night. If I could show a good ROI on that trial night I was booked for a weekly gig. In all but one case I was booked after a trial. I really believe the gig I did not get was because the GM could not provide a baseline number (liquor sales) for me to compare.


What do you think you could have done to track the results?
G. Batson
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>>>> What do you think you could have done to track the results?

If you're talking about the gig I did *not land, probably not much. Most GMs know their average price per ticket, number of tables turned, avg liquor ticket amt, etc per night. This guy did not. He pretty much ran his biz by the "seat of his pants". I didn't have a baseline to compare results to before/after using entertainment. To answer your question I really don't know.
Eldon
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I'm going to ask Dan Fleshman. When he gets back to me I'll post it here.
Eldon
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I'm going to have breakfast with Dan to get his input. I think what Mindpro might be getting at is, if you really know why restaurants hire entertainer then you would know how to approach them and what to offer when your trying to get booked. Mindpro, is this research for your new book? Which by the way, I can't wait till it is out. Put me on the list, I want one.

This is off subject but I asked a friend of mine that used to work with me in an upper class restaurant why they hire magicians and I think he hit the nail on the head Restaurants hire magicians because the owner or manager like magic. In my case this has held true. When I've worked in privately owned restaurants, I worked there for years and passed the work on to other magicians when I quit to pursue other thing. That was because the ownership and management never changed. I've worked in several national chains and when they switched managers a lot of times I was gone a few weeks later. I think this was because the manager wasn't a big magic fan or it wasn't his idea to hire me. This only applies to magic and really doesn't answer Mindpro's question.
TomBoleware
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If I wanted to book a restaurant as a magician, I would sell the owner on the idea that it would promote value for the restaurant.
That it would create a lot of word of mouth advertising. And that there was a good chance it would get Free local newspaper/magazine
coverage. Then I would go out of my way to see that it did.

If I could give him smiling customers. Get them to return. Do all the leg work for him to get hundreds of dollars in free local advertising.
Why wouldn't he hire me? Smile

A restaurant hires you for one reason, to help the business.

Tom
Do What Others Do And You Will Become Average

The Daycare Magician Book
www.amazekids.com/magic-downloads/childrens-magic-ebooks/the-daycare-magician/

Tom Boleware
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Eldon
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That's good stuff Tom.
ChrisC
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Recently I approached a nice restaurant and asked if they had entertainment. They were paying a musician who, in there words "Brought in a bunch of his friends, who filled up table space making it hard to flip tables, and bought one or two drinks if anything. A magician who eliminates perceived wait time and can keep the lobby entertained so they don't leave and go to the competition seems like a great deal compared to the musician who they were already paying.

On an unrelated note the manager at that restaurant who "hired me" for a tryout night quit, and the new manager said he had to talk to the owners first and never got back to me. Any tips on re-approaching? Should I go to the owner directly? Sorry to hijack your thread, but if you are writing a book this question and answer might help some other people who run into the same problem down the road.
Jesse Lewis
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One thing about managers is that they keep the status quo. I say go to the owner.

J
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Eldon
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I Had dinner with Dan Fleshman tonight. He said that one reason restaurants hire entertainment is to increase business. He says he will stay away from these because they are usually in trouble and probably won't be around to long. He said he thought the biggest reason they hire magicians is because the person doing the hiring really likes magic. This is the case at the gig he is working in Vale Colorado.
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