It seems like only a year or two ago that restaurant operators were pooh-poohing delivery, saying it accounted for less than 10% of sales.
Fast forward to October, when the National Restaurant Association announced that off-premise orders now make up nearly 60% of foodservice occasions.
That figure, however, includes takeout, delivery and drive-thru visits to restaurants, as well as takeout of freshly prepared items from grocery and convenience stores. Fundamentally, the trend indicates that — more than ever — guests are looking for the convenient choice when it comes to dining out.
The NRA estimated that 92% of consumers use a drive thru at least once per month. Another 79% of consumers use restaurant delivery at least once a month, and of those 53% used a third-party delivery provider, like Grubhub, DoorDash or Uber Eats.
Many speak of the cannibalization that can result. Restaurant operators say they are losing dine-in guests to that off-premise dining trend.
What will get them back into your dining rooms?
A really great cocktail might help.
In this issue, we are featuring 10 of the Best Cocktails in America, selected from reader submissions across the country.
When our editorial team chooses these drinks, we look for trends. We saw some lingering trends from last year, like smoked cocktails and the use of color-changing butterfly pea flower tea, but the winners for the most part reflect something new and different.
Gin is clearly the spirit of the day — a trend I welcome with whole heart and empty glass. But the main takeaway is that a really great cocktail is something that can’t be delivered or picked up at a takeout window.
It’s something to be experienced, hopefully in good company. I hope you will enjoy these terrific cocktails and find inspiration to build a better cocktail program that will lure those dine-in customers back.
Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout