How does live music affect restaurant menu sales? It’s a straight forward question neither the arts community nor restaurant community can answer to either’s satisfaction. Restaurants will say they want artists to bring in new patrons. Artists will say it’s more important performances enhance the dining experience of established patrons. Restaurants want artists to provide background music. Artists will liken performing in a restaurant to being “wallpaper”. Ignored.

So how is it two of Dallas’ favorite cultural pastimes, fine dining and live music, have such mismatched expectations? The crossover of the culinary and performing arts should be one of the richest contributions to our local culture and economies. Unfortunately, no one is tracking the economic footprint of this unique crossover niche.

What if we did? What if we explored it the same way we explore the cultural impact of the nonprofit arts sector and the economic impact of the full-service restaurant industry? And vice versa?

How would knowing the way live music affects menu sales bolster new projects, more investments, increase patron engagements, and support livelier neighborhoods?

Well, we’re exploring those questions. Chef & Song is mobilizing a community of patrons to sponsor live musical performances by local artists, in the best restaurants. We hire the artists, as well as, sound engineers, lighting, coordinate public relations, and provide restaurants with advertising material to promote the concerts to their dining guests. These concerts are free to the public and we don’t charge the restaurants to participate. We ask only that restaurants follow our guidelines so artists don’t become “wallpaper” and they share any changes in menu sales with us.

From this activity we map the economic footprint of live music in restaurants, observe trends, explore opportunities, and provide better information for funders and investors in both the culinary and performing arts.

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