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Themed Venue Era

This remarkable era for themed restaurants and clubs was a reminder of consumers' always-active interest in something fresh.
Some of these themed concepts proved to have a long economic life; most did not.

During the 1990’s, the themed restaurant and clubs era swept the world, with every retail developer looking at themed restaurants as a way to increase consumer appeal of retail facilities in destination locations.


Themed restaurants included celebrity-backed concepts such as Fashion Cafe (with models Campbell, MacPherson, and Schiffer), Planet Hollywood (Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and Willis), and the Official All-Star Sports Cafe (Agassi, Seles, and Gretzky), among many others.


Pure brand-based concepts included ESPN Cafe, Billboard Live!, Disney Stores, NASCAR Cafe, and dozens of others.


Immersive environment designers

Airship Tours was an immersive environment dinner show explored for the now defunct Pier Shops at Caesar’s (Atlantic City), which closed in 2015 and reopened as The Playground.



Still other themed concepts were based on intriguing concepts and/or environments such as Jekyll & Hyde Club, Drink!, Discovery Zone FunCenters, Dave & Buster’s, and Block Party.


Most of the venues created during the themed restaurant era enjoyed some consumer success but ultimately failed as consumers moved to the next concept.


This chronology includes only some of the more notable entries in this product category from major players, and is not a representative list of all theme restaurant openings during the time period shown.   There were many more attempted concepts in the themed restaurants and clubs era.   As this was all happening, there were also the themed “monobrand” retail stores that also swept the world.  Check out our complete history of first units in the location-based entertainment industry on this website.

Themed Restaurants and Clubs – History of First Unit Openings

Hard Rock Cafe (London, England)


Chuck E. Cheese (San Jose, California)


Dave & Buster’s (Dallas, Texas)


Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament (Kissimmee, Florida)


Ed Debevic’s (Phoenix, Arizona)


Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede (Pigeon Forge, Tennessee)


Planet Hollywood (New York City)


America Live! (Bloomington, Minnesota)
Drink! (Chicago, Illinois)
House of Blues (Cambridge, Massachusetts)


Entros (Seattle, Washington)
Michael Jordan’s Restaurant (Chicago, Illinois)
P.F. Chang’s China Bistro (Scottsdale, Arizona)
Front Row Sports Grill (Orlando, Florida)


Rainforest Cafe (Bloomington, Minnesota)
Harley-Davidson Cafe (New York City)
Wildhorse Saloon (Nashville, Tennessee)
Dive! (Los Angeles, California)
Country Star American Music Grill (Universal City, California)


Official All-Star Sports Cafe (New York City)
Fashion Cafe (New York City)
Jekyll & Hyde Club (New York City)
Motown Cafe (New York City)


Billboard Live! (West Hollywood, California)
NASCAR Cafe (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. (Monterey Bay, California)
Red’s (Edmonton, Canada)
Fulton’s Crab House (Orlando, Florida)


Easyriders Cafe (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)


Motorsports Grill (Orlando, Florida)
ESPN Zone (Baltimore, Maryland)


Theme Restaurant Concepts that Did Not Make it to Market:


Classic Sports Network Restaurant
David Copperfield’s Magic
National Lampoon Cafe
Television City
TV Land

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