As a restaurant owner or manager, you'll know how hard it is to stand out from the competition. The key to attracting business - and more importantly, encouraging repeat custom - comes down to more than just good food.
The most popular, successful restaurants give customers an experience, and what better way to achieve this than with the help of a professional magician?
How does it work?
Restaurant magic is very similar to the kind of table magic that you might see performed at a wedding or corporate event. The magician will move around your restaurant, performing for each table individually before each course of the meal.
This is close up magic, performed right in front of the customers. The anticipation, excitement and surprise will spread through the room, giving a heightened sense of enjoyment and satisfaction.
If you're asked to name some famous entertainers (apart from actors and musicians), chances are that there will be a few professional magicians on your list.
Shows by big names like Dynamo, Derren Brown, David Blaine and Ben Hanlin have achieved worldwide success, proving that there really is an appetite for magic.
However, importantly for you, people don't just love magic: they're prepared to pay for it.
Rather than giving your customers a live band or a stand-up comic like they might find in any number of establishments, give them the newest, hottest form of entertainment that they won't find anywhere else.
Will a magician appeal to the right customers?
The beauty of professional magicians is that they are highly experienced in fitting in with any group of people in any venue, and adapting their magic to suit.
If you run a formal, exclusive restaurant, then the magician can select the best sleight-of-hand and mind-reading tricks to appeal to your adult audience. However, if your restaurant is aimed at families with kids, then the magician can adopt a more relaxed style.
Regardless of the style of your restaurant or its clientele, a magician will always be able to adapt, appealing to exactly kind of customers that you want to attract.
Won't a restaurant magician be intrusive?
No! Quite the opposite.
Virtually every other type of restaurant entertainment is forced upon all patrons, whether they like it or not. Even something as unassuming as background music is played to everyone, so if it doesn't appeal to everyone you either end up with unhappy customers or people who avoid your restaurant altogether. If you're considering something even more divisive like live music or karaoke, this will only make the problem worse.
One of the major benefits with a professional magician is that if one of the tables doesn't want to get involved, the magician can just move on.
Close-up magic is fairly intimate and discreet, so while one table is enjoying the show, none of the other tables will be disturbed.
There is no obligation to watch the magic unfold; the magician only performs to those who are genuinely interested.
How often should the magician perform?
Ultimately, this decision is down to you as the owner or manager of the restaurant. A one-off special can make a great promotional feature, but at the other end of the scale having a magician perform regularly for a couple of nights a week might make your restaurant feel more themed.
If you're unsure of how far to take it, why not start by trialling magic on one of your quieter nights?
The originality and appeal of a magician will increase footfall, so it's a great way to encourage more customers when you're experiencing a lull.
Turn this into a regular occurrence and you'll find that as news spreads on social media and throughout your town, your 'magic night' will become the most popular, busiest night of the week!
Once people have seen the magic, will they really want to see it again?
Professional, experienced magicians have a wide range of tricks in their repertoire, so your customers will have a different show - and a different experience - each time they visit your restaurant.
People relish the opportunity of seeing fantastic magic up-close-and-personal, as there aren't many places that offer this in this day and age. Once they see it in person, the mystery and curiosity will always make people want to see the magician again.
However, bear in mind that magic doesn't just encourage repeat custom: it encourages growth.
As news of your resident magician spreads, people will actively encourage their friends and family to visit your restaurant, or even to join them that same night. One of the best ways to grow your restaurant business is to put on exciting entertainment, creating a hype that gives customers a reason to come back and bring their friends.
Can a restaurant magician help with long queues and wait times?
Magicians can add a huge amount of entertainment and enjoyment to customers who are already at their tables, but if you run a busy restaurant then you'll know that those aren't the only customers that you have to please.
On busy nights, customers who haven't made a reservation may be faced with long waiting times, which can lead to them walking out and looking elsewhere. However, once they're told about the resident magician, they'll have been given an extra reason to stay.
You can lead your waiting customers to the bar or seating area, at which point the magician can approach and start the performance. For the customers, this will take the edge off the frustration of having to wait.
The old adage that 'time flies when you're having fun' is true, so if your waiting customers are having a great time then the wait will seem much shorter and less of an inconvenience.
If you work with the magician, you can reduce queues even further. Let the magician know when you want to clear a table, so that he can approach the table with the offer of magic. If the customers accept, the magician can ask them to follow him into the bar area, leaving the table free for you to clear and prep for the next group.
Will it be memorable?
As a manager or owner, you'll know the importance of creating a lasting impression on your customers. One perfect way to achieve this is by giving them a souvenir to take home with them as a reminder of their visit - and if the item can have magical connotations, even better!
Magicians regularly perform tricks with cards, coins and other everyday objects which can be left with the customers. They will marvel over these items at home, and they'll even show their friends and family which will spread word of your restaurant even further.
Even if your customers don't leave with any sort of souvenir, the experience of seeing awe-inspiring, professional, close-up magic performed at a restaurant over dinner is so out-of-the-ordinary that it's guaranteed to be one of the most memorable meals your customers ever have.