According to a recent survey by Vericast of 1,842 consumers, inflation is affecting their spending habits, with one of the hardest hit being restaurant dining. About 45% said they were looking to cut back on eating out in the next six months to cut expenses.
To counter this trend, restaurants are taking a good look at their menus and the preferences of their most valued guests. From adding more exciting global flavors to increasing selections in off-premise alcoholic beverages, these brands are taking a proactive stance.
Let’s explore some of the latest changes taking place in our industry and how you can join the impetus towards creating a sustainable restaurant model that makes it through the more challenging economic times and thrives in the best of times.
When your business is running smoothly, it’s easy to stay the course and keep the status quote. However, as James Cash Penney said, “No company can afford not to move forward. It may be at the top of the heap today but at the bottom of the heap tomorrow, if it doesn’t.”
Here’s one of the restaurants that have made decisive changes in their menu to stay relevant in today’s changing world.
In June, TGI Fridays, a company that’s been around since 1965, made one of its most significant menu changes in over 20 years. Appealing to those looking for bold, ethnic flavors, the brand launched Grilled & Sauced. They based their new menu strategy on the changing consumer environment, prioritizing customization.
Their guests select from flame-grilled options that include chicken breasts, salmon, ribs, and various cuts of steak. Then, they pair them with a wide-ranging choice of rubs, sauces, and sides. Among the nine sauces are Hennessy-Infused Spiked Orange Glaze, Korean Red Chile, and their signature Whiskey-Glaze and Apple Butter BBQ.
They also launched their summer cocktails, including Hella Old Fashioned and Lavender Fields Lemon Drop Martini. The Cooling Paloma blends Lunazul Blanco Agave Tequila with hand-picked mint, agave, Fever-Tree Sparkling Grapefruit Soda, and fresh citrus.
Hopefully, these changes prompt some rising interest in a chain that’s experienced declining sales in the U.S. However, while their locations have shrunk to 289 across the nation, the brand operates almost 700 restaurants in 52 countries, with plans to open an additional 75 units in Asia.
As a lifeline, states nationwide passed laws extending restaurants the right to sell alcohol to-go during the pandemic. For many, it was one of many changes that enabled them to stay afloat during unprecedented times. Marty Duffy, the owner of The Cellar Peanut Pub in Iowa, told NPR that he canned his signature Bloody Marys for 14 hours a day to get him through the difficult time.
Many states retained these laws even after restaurants began reopening. During the height of the pandemic, 39 states passed laws allowing alcohol to go. Since then, about 20 states and Washington, DC, have made laws allowing carryout cocktails permanent. Another 14 allow it on a long-term, but temporary basis, according to the National Restaurant Association.
This represents one of the biggest changes to the nation’s liquor laws since the end of Prohibition. Some local governments are even creating “Sip N’ Stroll” locations, designating outdoor social districts where people can purchase drinks from restaurants and stroll around the area, window shopping, and chatting with the locals with drinks in hand.
Over 9 out of 10 restaurant operators that offer alcoholic beverages with delivery and takeout orders say they’ll continue to provide this option as long as their jurisdiction allows it. Additionally, 54% of adults who ordered delivery over the last six months said the option to include alcohol beverages would make them more likely to choose one restaurant over another.
An Educational Experience
As you’re aware, today’s guests are looking for an experience. Part of that experience is learning about new flavors, authentic cooking methods, and pairing food and beverages. In fact, 84% of adults who drink alcoholic beverages believed restaurants were a good place to learn about cocktails and wine and beer brands they hadn’t tried before. And 82% said they trust the staff’s alcoholic beverage recommendations at their local restaurants.
If your staff isn’t upselling beverages and enhancing the guest experience, now’s the time to integrate this important strategy.
At F&B Insights, we identify pricing opportunities and menu strategies to help restaurants and bars maximize their sales and profits. This strategy includes AI-driven menu pricing and supplying operators with the world’s largest menu database. Whether checking out local or nationwide brands, you can ensure you’re up-to-date on the latest trends and pricing strategies. And, should a competitor change their menu, you’ll receive an alert, ensuring you stay relevant in today’s changing market.
The Menu Monetization division helps you work with existing suppliers or build relationships with new ones who educate your staff in upselling techniques while also paying you for insight-rich reports derived from your POS system’s sales data.
Are you ready to explore the incredible resources you have available as an operator? To learn more about our programs or to schedule a consultation, contact F&B Insights today or experience the benefits firsthand with our Free 15 Day Trial.