Fad or Future

No filter needed: Zizzi launches multi-sensory restaurants

The chain has turned to Instagram for inspiration with an experience involving lights, smells and sounds, but does Sparkie think it’s a worthwhile gimmick?

16 July 2019

It’s not just the smell of pizza and pasta that will attack diners’ senses at Zizzi.

The Italian chain has made a move to bring the best parts of summer into its St Giles restaurant via a multi-sensory dining experience – something US market insights company Innova predicted would be a big trend for 2019.

The concept will also be rolling out to sites in Glasgow and Manchester this week.

Zizzi likened its Golden Hour restaurant to applying an Instagram filter to real life. A light installation gives customers a mood-boosting dose of vitamin D, complemented by the sounds and smells of summer.

The restaurant has been designed to pay homage to the magic hour just before the sun sets, inspired by the Instagram obsession behind the hashtag #GoldenHour, which has used more than 5m times already this year.

“We want our diners to feel like they’re enjoying a real summer experience – with great food and drink, beautiful sunshine and relaxing with friends,” said Rachel Hendry, head of marketing at Zizzi. “Golden Hour is the time of day where everything looks and feels amazing so we hope our multi-sensory experience and special Golden Happy Hour offers will cheer everybody up – even if it’s raining outside.”

Themed food

But Zizzi doesn’t want diners missing out on Golden Hour if they can’t make it to a participating restaurant.

It is running a number of Golden Hour offers nationwide, including a special summer set menu featuring new dishes such as Rainbow Gnocchi and Golden Honeycomb Cheesecake. Restaurants across the country will also be gifting tables with rounds of drinks on the house during a special Golden Happy Hour.

“Many people think that how we experience flavours is just down to our taste buds but actually it’s a culmination of all our senses – we are all impacted more than we think by smells, lighting, colour and sound,” said chef Jozef Youssef, who founded the multi-sensory experience Kitchen Theory.

“Our enjoyment of food in restaurants comes down to so much more than how well the food on our plates has been cooked. For example, we know people often find that the same wine and food is more enjoyable when on holiday in a lovely sunny environment than when they are back home on a cold winter’s evening.” 

Yossef said it was exciting to see restaurants like Zizzi take this insight and elevate sensory dining to the next level.

“With the Golden Hour experiences in London, Glasgow and Manchester, they’re taking all the senses we associate with summer from the lighting, sounds and smells to replicate that delicious warm summer glow which will no doubt enhance the enjoyment and taste of the food they are serving,” he added.

Others in the UK have played with multi-sensory experiences to promote their brand. Last year, Tesco invited the public to an edible exhibition to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Tesco’s Finest range. Six sections featured everything from edible champagne bubbles to playing a wild mushroom symphony.

So is Sparkie ready to get a golden glow on?


Sparkie says:

This whole thing seems a little confused. The hashtag refers to several different things in different fields, including medicine, photography and CrossFit. A single short dose of vitamin D is not likely to help anyone who needs it beyond the psychosomatic input. That kind of treatment needs to be fairly regular in order to help.

Adding the rainbow food onto this definitely makes it seem like another gimmick designed to play up to the Instagram crowd. Like anything else designed this way, it rarely seems to go beyond the original venue but might just be successful there.

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