by David Klemt

This Generation is Most Likely to Dine In

by David Klemt

Chef preparing burgers inside restaurant

The National Restaurant Association’s 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry report revealed the generation most likely to dine in-person at a restaurant.

That is, of course, if such restaurant service—from quick-service to fine dining—is permitted where they’re located.

So, do you have a guess? Because we have the answer.

Most Likely to Dine In

Per an NRA survey, Gen Z is most eager to return to in-person restaurant dining.

However, it’s more of a simple majority that’s after a restaurant experience beyond delivery, takeout and curbside pickup than an overwhelming one.

Just 53 percent of adult members of Gen Z surveyed by the NRA are willing to dine inside restaurants over the course of the next few months.

Overall, 67 percent of Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X and Baby Boomer adults would like to engage with restaurants like they did before the pandemic. That’s not a huge stretch, of course; we all want to return to normal and put Covid-19 behind us.

Still, the survey results make it clear there’s demand for in-person dining. The convenience of interacting with and ordering from restaurants is here to stay. However, that convenience hasn’t replaced the desire to dine (and socialize) out.

So, Who’s Most Likely to Order In?

You’d be forgiven for assuming the answer to this question is also Gen Z. After all, just about every development regarding technology and how people engage with the world has been laid at their feet.

When Gen Z isn’t being accused of “killing” a tradition, sense of normalcy or an entire industry, the finger is pointed at Millennials.

Well, it turns out the usual finger-pointing suspects are the consumers most likely to order from restaurants.

According to the NRA’s report, 81 percent of Boomers and 80 percent of Gen X will continue to order from restaurants, at least for the next few months.

Put it All Together

At least for the next several months, the industry’s recovery will hinge on the full-strength return of in-person service and the convenience of delivery and takeout.

In other words, some consumers are champing at the bit to once again make restaurant visits a regular part of their lives while others plan to proceed with caution. Successful restaurant operations will maintain a mixture of traditional and digitally-driven services.

Nearly 90 percent of adults surveyed by the NRA say they enjoy going out to restaurants and that doing so with family and friends is a better way to spend leisure time than cooking at home.

“Restaurants are the cornerstone of our communities, and our research shows a clear consumer desire to enjoy restaurants on-premises more than they have been able to during the pandemic. We’ve also found that even as the vaccine becomes more available and more social occasions return to restaurants, consumers will continue to desire expanded off-premises options going forward. Both will continue to be key for industry growth,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president, Research and Knowledge Group, NRA, in a press release announcing the Association’s 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry. “With more than half of adults saying that restaurants are an essential part of their lifestyle, we are confident that, with time, the industry is positioned for successful recovery.”

The NRA predicts foodservice sales to reach $731 billion in 2021, an 11 percent increase over 2020. Unfortunately, that estimate is about 15 percent lower than sales generated in 2019.

Still, that’s a reason to be optimistic. Consumers are pent-up and eager to make restaurants a significant part of their lives once again.

Nobody is more eager, evidently, than Gen Z.

Image: Jesson Mata on Unsplash