The trend of super specific themed cafes and pubs has hit the UK!
There was a time in the not-so-recent past that a staple of life in the United Kingdom, the pub, was struggling, if not dying out completely. This was put down to several reasons, from the price of a pint being too high to millennials simply not wanting to leave their houses. Now, instead, we may be in an odd but exciting renaissance period of sorts for pubs, cafes, and eateries in the UK. While the classic or standard versions of pubs, cafes, restaurants, and bars are still in existence in the UK, a stark trend of super-specific themed venues has swept the nation. The whole scene now appears to be a lot more colourful and appealing to the niche fancies of crowds who may not have seen going out as a desirable occasion.
Now, be warned, some of these themed cafes, pubs, and eateries go beyond a mere niche into being super-specific, but as more and more of these are popping up, we must assume that there’s a market for them. With such specific themes, potential customers will plan entire days, afternoons, and nights around embracing the theme and enjoying the novelty. We’ve found some of the most super-specific and somewhat kooky themed venues around the UK, and we’re going to delve into what has lent such specific themes to being used by third parties as a way of appealing to a greater audience.
Our favourite super-specific themed venues
The best place to start has to be the ever-growing fad of cat cafes. They do exactly what they say on the tin: it’s a café where people pay to relax and interact with the cats that call the venue home. The tale goes that cat cafes started to pop up in Taiwan just before the turn of the millennium, with the idea spreading across Asia and into Europe in the decades since. They are particularly popular in Japan, where there are said to be over 100 of the cat-centric venues. While cat cafes already boast a super-specific theme in the UK, they’re becoming less of a novelty. So, in February 2018, Herbipaws opened on Abbeydale Road in Sheffield to introduce a specialised vegan cat café.
As a way of trying to connect to a millennial population formerly deemed ‘unreachable’, some bars and pubs with a gaming theme began to open. This doesn’t mean they just slapped some Mario stickers on the walls and named their shots after Pokémon – which many also do. These bars went all-out and added a usable gaming console to each table as well as a competitive gaming room. Many gaming bars are popping up around the country, but one of the most popular is Loading, with each of their gaming bars boasting at least an Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, SNES Mini, and a bunch of board games.
One of the most specific themes that we’ve encountered on our travels around the UK is the restaurant that decided to take its inspiration from the world created by Twin Peaks. To celebrate David Lynch’s television series, the pop-up eatery opened in London and featured an in-theme dinner menu and themed bar area. To further entice fans of the series, the organisers even hinted to there being some interactive elements to immerse patrons in the niche theme.
Many other great, super-specific themed cafes and bars around the country are well-worth visiting. Down in Southampton, you can sink into Middle-Earth at The Hobbit Pub. At ABQ in London, you get to cook your own cocktails in the Breaking Bad-themed bar. If you fancy something very novel, see The Bletchley in Chelsea, which has you using Enigma machines from World War II as well as Sherlock Holmes’ principles of deduction to concoct cocktails.
Becoming a theme that others can embrace
Using a theme that wouldn’t usually be connected to a certain industry isn’t unheard of or uncommon across the world. The simple fact is that people enjoy many different things from different themes, so a good way to increase your appeal is to tap into existing themes and incorporate them into your own product or service. Even if the theme itself may seem niche and lacking a strong fan base, it may just be unique enough that other people will be intrigued by the experience. A super-specific theme can be enough to turn heads, while a very general but well-known theme can intrigue a wider audience that’s simply looking for a new experience but with a familiar feel.
Cafes, bars, and restaurants have been embracing new themes for a long time. These venues can put up some decorations, create some in-theme food and drink, play certain music, and they’re onto a theme night. Another industry which has a knack for utilising various themes from around the world is that of iGaming. Game developers in the industry know that each of their titles needs to stand out in the ocean of games, so online slots have adopted many different themes so that the sector as a whole can appeal to a wide range of people. These include the new western-themed and Red Dead Redemption-inspired Dead or Alive II, African safari-themed Great Rhino, Stampede, and Safari King, and pop culture titles like Love Island Slingo, Big Lebowski Jackpot, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Naturally, cinemas and theatres are also well-versed in utilising themes to promote events, especially when certain films or shows are on the way.
When it comes to what themes work, it’s all down to the audience and all industries will try out different themes to try and entice a new audience to at least one of their occasions. People enjoy indulging in something a bit different from the norm, and many others love to throw themselves into the themes of their favourite product, activity, or pet – whatever new activity that involves.
While still quite a niche across the UK, super-specific theme venues are on the rise and proving to be quite popular. Even though the theme is specific, the fact that many of them combine two likeable elements or are simply unique endears them to people outside of the general audiences of bars, cafes, pubs, and restaurants.