Theme restaurants attract patrons based on their entertainment value; the overall dining experience takes precedence. The chosen theme dictates the interior decor, music, type of food, the food presentation and the appearances of the wait staffs. Theme restaurants also sell licensed merchandise as souvenirs, such as t-shirts and key chains.

The Target Diners

Families with disposable income, tourists and young people are all target clientele of theme restaurants.


Theme restaurants began in urban or tourist-y areas during their heyday in the early 90s. According to the National Restaurant Association, theme restaurants spread to suburban locations and strip malls by the late 90s.

Decline in Popularity

Theme restaurants were criticized for focusing too much on the decor and not enough on the food quality. According to restaurant analyst firm Technomic Inc., theme restaurants started to decline once the novelty wore off.

Theme restaurants in the US

Here is a sample of well known U.S. restaurants and their themes: Hard Rock Café (rock music), Planet Hollywood (movie stars), ESPN Zone (Sports) and Bubba Gump Shrimp Company (based on the movie Forrest Gump).

Worldwide Eater-tainment

Theme restaurants are still popular worldwide. The most notable phenomenon in Japan is “nyotaimori” or body sushi--the act of eating sushi off a naked woman’s body.