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What Is a Theme Restaurant?

By Tiffany Manley
Updated May 16, 2024
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A theme restaurant is a restaurant that has a distinct theme in its décor, name, food or any combination of these. Many theme restaurants can be found throughout the world, with themes such as medieval time periods, jungles and famous individuals. Commonly located in tourist areas, theme restaurants often cater to tourists’ desire to eat at novel or unique establishments. Many people believe that the food at a theme restaurant is less than high-quality food because so much attention is placed on executing the theme, but this is not always the case.

Depending on the geographic location and the focus of the restaurateur, a theme restaurant might appear in a variety of locations. Many theme parks have themed restaurants to carry the park’s theme into every aspect of the tourist’s stay. Larger tourist destinations might also have theme restaurants because of the large number of new patrons to the area. A theme restaurant owner might easily attract a large number of patrons who are visiting the area and have never seen or heard of the theme restaurant.

One aspect of a theme restaurant that sets it apart from other restaurants is the fact that the theme is present in every aspect of the restaurant. The theme decorations are present outside, in the lobby area, where customers eat, in the serving pieces, in the food and even in the bathrooms. An exaggerated and extravagant portrayal of the restaurant’s theme is what draws many people in to eat. This type of restaurant usually requires a large investment of capital, so owners expect to draw large crowds based on the theme.

Although not a traditional theme restaurant, many restaurants host theme nights. These might be nights based on a specific food or regional cuisine, entertainment theme or something fun, such as a murder mystery night. A restaurant might draw a large crowd for these special events without investing money in the constant portrayal of the theme.

People who are interested in opening a theme restaurant should do quite a bit of research before starting that venture. Careful execution of the chosen theme is crucial, so care must be taken in purchasing everything from the correct serving pieces to décor, seating arrangements and staff members' uniforms. All of these pieces together might cost quite a bit of money, but a restaurateur must also consider the quality of the food that he or she hopes to serve as well as the quality of the customer service at the restaurant.

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Discussion Comments
By ZsaZsa56 — On Apr 14, 2012

I bet they are running out of new themes for restaurants. By my estimation they have tried everything under the sun already. There have been pirate restaurants and cowboy restaurants and space restaurant and on and on. I even heard about a restaurant in Korea that recreates the experience of being in jail.

What is next? I can't imagine that there is anything that has not been done. But even more surely I know that I am wrong. A new theme restaurant will open next year and the next and the next. It is an idea that is not going anywhere.

By jonrss — On Apr 14, 2012

They have a restaurant at Disney world where you eat in what is basically a drive in movie theater. All the tables are designed to look like classic cars and they project a movie on a big screen at the front of the dining room. The restaurant is done up to make you feel like you are outside.

It is kind of a cool idea. I have been several times and they are usually showing old B monster movies. The experience is remarkably realistic. It is kind of like getting dinner and a movie at the same time.

By truman12 — On Apr 13, 2012
Probably the most ridiculous themed restaurant I have ever been to was The Rainforest Cafe. I went to one with my family when we were on a vacation. I was probably 15 at the time and my little brother was around 13.

The whole restaurant is set up to look like a rainforest. They have fake trees and animatronic animals and rain and bird sounds that go off periodically. But it is all kind of cartoony looking, not really trying to be faithful. The menu is pretty standard theme restaurant grab bag world cuisine greatest hits.

The thing I could never understand is why anyone would want to eat dinner in a rainforest. It is kind of like eating in a gold mine; what is appetizing about this? The food was OK, but the experience was just weird. I wouldn't be surprised if that restaurant is not there any more.

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