The London pop-up scene is about to get a sprinkling of Ibiza, as the nightclub Pacha group launches Lio in central London. Is ‘Restaurant Club Cabaret’ the hot new trend? Londoners will be sucked into the restaurant’s club feel with different performers each night over the course of 6 weeks. We think this new venture says a lot about the future of evening entertainment for 20 and 30-something urbanites.
It seems that for special evenings out, great food alone is no longer enough to attract the younger generation of Londoners into restaurants. At the end of last year, TVE’s Amber Williams looked at how experiential dining is the hottest currency for rising generations. This new launch brings a whole new flavour of evening entertainment for Millennials & Gen Z to try – one that goes way beyond great food (but great food most certainly features). An evening at Lio will give them the full package, combing what popular wisdom dictates to be millennials’ two favourite things: food & experiences. Chief Exec Nick McCabe told The Times , “When you understand [how] the world is changing and that people value experiences over possessions, it is about generating social capital, about a great Instagram photo. I think the world has changed in our favour.” For him, it seems clear that Lio is about much more than the food.
But could this venture also be a symptom of a completely new approach to having fun? Statistics have been flooding in about how Gen Z’s in particular are drinking less. Pacha pitching up shop in London could point to two things. Firstly, perhaps the ultimate party destination, Ibiza, is losing its charm for the next wave of would-be party-goers. Pacha’s foray into hotels and a resort that focuses as much on relaxing as partying is a tell-tale sign, and the introduction of kids’ parties for the children of Pacha’s long-serving fans might suggest that it is aging with its client base, rather than adapting to new young partiers. The island’s booming health and wellness industry might be more attractive to this new group of consumers than its all-night drinking and dancing. This new Restaurant Club Cabaret might be Pacha’s attempt to remind new generations of why Ibiza got its reputation in the first place, and show them a little bit of partying sparkle.
However, the second thing it might suggest is perhaps more interesting for the rest of the UK restaurant scene: if in the future 20 and 30-somethings become seriously unenthused by the prospect of partying and drinking all night in London, is it going to fall back to restaurants to create amazing, memorable experiences for rising generations to share with their friends? Escape rooms and immersive cinemas are the new Saturday night staples, and more and more do you hear of friends splashing out on Barry’s Bootcamp and a super-smoothie on a weekend. The perfect night out certainly looks different, and maybe restaurants can pick up the pieces for their own advantage.
We’ve all heard about the demise of high street casual dining. But does the opportunity lie in a whole new breed of evening entertainment and would new-comers be wise to latch on to it?