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SevenRooms Announces Olo Partnership

SevenRooms Announces Olo Partnership

by David Klemt

Cheeseburgers and French fries in takeout containers on pass

SevenRooms continues to grow and develop innovative partnerships.

The platform’s newest partnership benefits the hospitality industry, operators, and consumers.

In joining forces with Olo, SevenRooms further helps restaurants, bars, and hotels position themselves to succeed in an increasingly digital world.

The Bleeding Edge

Olo, which literally stands for “Online Ordering,” predates the iPhone.

In fact, the company launched before smartphones were more than niche devices.

Upon its inception, Olo’s service consisted mainly of sending mobile coffee orders to restaurant printers via text message.

Like SevenRooms, Olo seeks to stay ahead of the consumer behavior curve:

  • 2005: Olo launches, anticipating coffee drinkers will eagerly embrace mobile ordering.
  • 2008: The company predicts fast-casual restaurants will become faster than fast food.
  • 2012: Olo envisions the redesigning of kitchen restaurants to include pickup windows.
  • 2015: The platform sees the future for foodservice is delivery.

Now, Olo is dedicated to making sure online ordering customers benefit from the industry’s digital transformation.

The Partnership

SevenRooms ensures clients who also use Olo can capture their off-premise customers’ information. That data then creates profiles for those customers automatically.

This partnership leverages SevenRooms CRM and marketing automation integration. Operators will be able to send post-order surveys to off-premise, online ordering customers automatically.

So, operators can learn what is and isn’t working off-premise; elevate the experience of off-premise customers to increase online order frequency; convert those customers to in-person guests; encourage repeat visits; and increase profitability.

Moving forward, SevenRooms and Olo users will get to know their off-premise customers better.

“To meet the ever-evolving needs of our hospitality clients, we’ve continued to seek out strategic partners who help us provide an even more comprehensive solution to operators,” says SevenRooms CEO and founder Joel Montaniel. “Our integration with Olo delivers on our promise of offering a 360-degree platform focused on helping operators build deeper, direct relationships across on- and off-premise experiences. This partnership facilitates better operational efficiency and online data capture, ultimately helping operators optimize the profitability of their delivery and takeout business while strengthening customer relationships. We are excited to welcome Olo to our partner network, and look forward to our continued collaboration to drive better, more streamlined solutions for the industry.”

Learn more about SevenRooms here. Click here to learn more about Olo.

Image: call me hangry 🇫🇷 on Unsplash

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Wendy’s Looks to Ghosts for Growth

Wendy’s Looks to Ghosts for Growth

by David Klemt

Wendy's fast food restaurant exterior and sign

Wendy’s is the latest foodservice company to announce plans to open ghost kitchens in Canada, the US and the UK.

The fast-food giant’s scheme is large-scale and part of an expansive growth strategy.

Per the company, Wendy’s plans to open 700 ghost kitchens.

Embracing the Trend

Here’s a question for you: Do you hear and read the word “pivot” or the phrase “ghost kitchen” more often these days?

Ghost kitchens seem to be the pivot of choice for restaurant groups and enterprising tech companies looking to leverage the next big thing. (There, a sentence with both “pivot” and “ghost kitchen” in it,)

The trend also appears more often than not to be the domain of Big Business.

Former Uber executive Travis Kalanick is the founder of CloudKitchens. DoorDash is also entering the ghost kitchen space, running a trial in California to see if pursuing the idea is viable.

Now, enter Wendy’s, not exactly a mom-and-pop shop in the restaurant space.

Ghost vs. Virtual Kitchen

We don’t revel in the semantics game, necessarily. But we know people are going to refer to Wendy’s ghost locations as “virtual” kitchens as well.

However, ghost kitchens and virtual kitchens have unique definitions and characteristics.

Wendy’s isn’t creating a new brand with new items they’re preparing in their existing brick-and-mortar locations. Nor do they plan to do so with their new locations under constructions currently.

Were that the case, their strategy would be a virtual kitchen plan.

Instead, the 700 locations will be separate facilities without storefronts. Also, the units will focus solely on delivery, leveraging on-demand consumer behavior.

So, the lack of storefront is arguably the greatest defining characteristic of a ghost kitchen.

Conversely, a virtual kitchen operates in a location with a storefront. However, the brand on offer exists online and not in the brick-and-mortar world of an established brand. In essence, an existing brand is offering a brand that they don’t want to dilute what they’ve already built.

That’s a Lot of Ghosts

Per reporting, Wendy’s is joining forces with Reef Technology to open and operate their ghost kitchens.

At least 50 such locations are in the works to open this year. The other several hundred locations will open between 2022 and 2025.

That means we should see more than 150 Wendy’s ghost kitchens going live per year across Canada, the US and the UK.

Partnering with Reef Technology is an interesting and telling maneuver. Reef, per their website, focuses on “urbanization” and reshaping “our urban infrastructure.”

And as CEO Todd Penelow stated last week, Wendy’s doesn’t isn’t strong in urban areas. The vision for Wendy’s new strategy is to penetrate urban markets, adding new stores and new franchisees as the brand moves forward.

Should things go according to plan, Wendy’s expects to expand from 6,500 units worldwide to somewhere between 8,500 and 9,000 in 2025.

Image: Michael Form from Pixabay

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Two States Rescinding To-Go Cocktails

Two States Rescinding To-Go Cocktails

by David Klemt

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, time-lapse at night

Two states are putting an end to a lifeline that many restaurants and bars still rely upon as the industry attempts recovery.

Unfortunately, New York and Pennsylvania are rescinding to-go cocktail laws. Sadly, we can only hope this doesn’t lead to a state legislature domino effect.

The decision stands in stark contrast to states that chose to legalize to-go cocktails this year.

Pandemic Lifeline

Call it cynicism if you like, but it seems that our industry is constantly left to fend for itself.

For example, look at how long it took for the the American Rescue Plan to be voted into law. The bill, which included the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, didn’t pass the House until March of 2021.

Also, the awarding of Paycheck Protection Program stimulus loans was a farce and disaster.

Then, remember that the RRF application portal didn’t launch until the end of April. Of course, the fund has been depleted already and the portal closes July 14.

Obviously, restaurants and bars adapted and leaned into delivery, takeout, and pickup in an attempt to survive. In addition, several states made to-go cocktails legal temporarily.

Ultimately, some states made those “loose” laws permanent. Iowa was the first state to do so.

Now, operators in New York and Pennsylvania are having that lifeline yanked out of their hands.

Disappointing Development

Less than a month ago I reported on how several states (and Canadian provinces) are choosing to handle to-go cocktails.

So far, eleven states made them legal permanently: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Other states chose to keep their to-go cocktail rules loosened until 2022 or 2023: Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Virginia, and Washington.

Still others—New York and Pennsylvania among them—introduced bills this year that sought to make to-go cocktails legal permanently: Arizona, California, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Oregon.

So, rather than keep their rules loose and continue to help their operators generate much-needed revenue as they try to recover from the economic devastation of the pandemic, New York and Pennsylvania voted to take to-go cocktails away from them.

Rather than help the industry, too many politicians and officials have used them during the pandemic as scapegoats, punching bags, and public relations stunts.

It’s clear that operators in New York and Pennsylvania (and many other states, to be fair) need to send a unified message when elected officials need venues for campaigning and fundraising.

Image: Heidi Kaden on Unsplash

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Restaurant Tech Map Illustrates Innovation

Restaurant Tech Map Illustrates Innovation

by David Klemt

TechTable - Culterra Capital Restaurant Tech Map sponsored by Back-of-House

The hospitality industry’s embracing of new technologies is experiencing rapid and welcome acceleration in less than two years.

In comparison to the restaurant technology map by TechTable and Better Food Ventures from 2019, there are two entirely new categories: Shared / Ghost Kitchens, and Food Safety / Quality.

More than a dozen platforms on the 2021 map from TechTable and Culterra Capital (sponsored by Back-of-House) now fall into those two categories.

Changing Landscape

It’s a sign of current industry trends and what will matter to guests moving forward that ghost kitchens and food safety are emerging as separate tech segments.

Obviously, the pandemic didn’t create the ghost kitchen category. However, it did fuel a meteoric rise in delivery and takeout. In turn, ghost kitchens are more prevalent than ever.

After all, a former Uber executive Travis Kalanick owns CloudKitchens and Applebee’s is testing a ghost kitchen pilot program.

What was once the domain of murky, unpermitted virtual brands is now its own successful business model.

However, today’s guest isn’t concerned solely with convenience. In general, guests now take their health and safety more seriously since the pandemic

Tech platforms that can ensure the food guests are consuming is safe will ease some concerns.

Increase in Platforms

Again, in comparison to just two years ago, the acceleration in new tech for the industry is astounding. It’s also long overdue.

As a whole, the hospitality industry has been surprisingly slow to take on new tech. Although, it’s fair to say that there wasn’t much new to adopt until somewhat recently.

Now that there’s more to try out, operators seem keen to embrace tech that can help them streamline operations; improve inventory monitoring and ordering; hire employees and manage teams; engage with and market to customers intelligently; and much more.

Even better, the above map doesn’t include all of the available platforms. That’s excellent news as it means operators have an increasing number of choices to help improve their business in every category of operation.

For example, Barventory isn’t listed within the Purchasing / Inventory / Ordering segment. The platform makes taking inventory, gaining a real-time inventory snapshot, and efficient ordering a breeze. Barventory also features the world’s first live keg scale.

It’s challenging to find positives from the past 14 to 15 months. However, one good thing may be the leaps in technology our industry is experiencing.

If they continue, these innovations may make it easier for operators and their employees to recover.

A concept’s tech stack is crucial to operations and will only grow more important moving forward. Whether opting for a full KRG Hospitality package or the Momentum program, we can help operators make informed tech selections.

Map by TechTable and Culterra Capital, sponsored by Back-of-House

Featured image: Pepper by SoftBank Robotics (photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash)

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Resorts World Partners with Grubhub

Resorts World Las Vegas Partners with Grubhub

by David Klemt

Resorts World Las Vegas partners with Grubhub for world-first in-room dining experience

Resorts World Las Vegas is foregoing traditional room service in favor of a unique, property-wide partnership with Grubhub.

The freshest, shiniest new resort and casino to open on the world-famous Strip is taking a different approach to in-room dining.

Impressively, guests can order from any of the property’s 40 food and beverage concepts. Yes, there are 40 restaurants and bars at Resorts World Las Vegas.

This resort-delivery platform partnership is a world first.

Las Vegas Emerges

The opening of Resorts World, which took place last Thursday, is significant for several reasons.

First, surviving a pandemic to open a $4-plus-billion resort and casino in Las Vegas in 2021 is no small feat.

Second, the gaming industry in Nevada was shut down for 15 months. To emerge from that and return to 100-percent capacity is a staggering achievement.

Third, this is the first new resort to open on the Strip in over a decade. For context, The Cosmopolitan opened at the end of 2010.

Fourth, Resorts World Las Vegas is being billed as the most technologically-advanced resort and casino in Las Vegas. Indeed, they make a great case for that claim: RFID-embedded chips at the gaming tables; cashless wagering; plans to accept cryptocurrency for wagers, rooms, and amenities; and the ability for guests to use mobile pay for just about everything on property.

World-first Partnership

So, that brings us to the Resorts World Las Vegas and Grubhub partnership.

Up until relatively recently, technological innovation was somewhat stagnant in the hospitality industry. Outside of POS, CRM, reservation, inventory, audio and visual advancements, other industries routinely surpassed ours in terms for tech.

Now, we’ve seen that tide begin to turn; tech companies are turning their attention more and more to foodservice, nightlife, and accommodation businesses.

Of course, one of the most-visible and most well-known applications of tech in our industry has been delivery platforms.

As stated previously, Resorts World Las Vegas features 40 F&B concepts. Via app or QR codes, guests can order from any of the concepts on property and opt for pickup or delivery. Further, they can choose to charge their orders to their rooms.

Additionally, guests at the resort pool can have orders delivered to touchless, QR-code-enabled lockers. Impressively, some Resorts World Las Vegas retail shops are available for orders via this Grubhub partnership.

Moving Forward

Clearly, news of this partnership isn’t relevant to all operators (not directly, anyway).

However, some operators will see a real-world benefit to this delivery/pick-up development. Doubtless, their wheels be turning as they consider what tech-driven partnerships they can develop.

For others, this will be a lesson in guest expectations.

Consumers are becoming more and more accustomed to convenience and selection. At this point, a consumer’s whims—particularly in the F&B and retail spaces—can be indulged with just a few taps on their phone.

Operators will need to identify where and how they can fulfill guest expectations for convenience, selection and personalization in their own businesses. For the most part, those who innovate will be those who thrive long-term.

Image: Resorts World Las Vegas

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Where are To-Go Cocktails Legal?

Where are To-Go Cocktails Legal?

by David Klemt

Bottled Negroni mixed drinks and to-go cocktails

We’re still coming to grips with what the industry will look like post-pandemic. One pandemic-driven adaptation is to-go cocktails.

For this article, “cocktails” means mixed drinks specifically, as that is how most jurisdictions are defining such to-go drinks.

In some markets, operators can now offer to-go mixed drinks permanently. Some jurisdictions are offering extensions to temporary sales, while others are considering bills.

The To-Go Pivot

Clearly, our industry responds to guest demands and expectations. And what does today’s guest expect? For their every customized whim to be fulfilled—conveniently.

Therefore, it only makes sense that operators constantly adapt to encourage guest loyalty (as far as that’s possible).

People are itching to get out more, impatient to return to their pre-pandemic lives. Even so, the convenience of drinking and dining at home appeals to large swaths of the public.

Of course, it’s not just convenient.

Providing guests the choice to enjoy a restaurant or bar’s F&B offerings and semblance of their unique experience at home—including cocktails—is also about safety and comfort levels.

Obviously, we want guests to be able to comfortably and safely gather in restaurants, bars, hotels, and every other type of hospitality venue. That’s a given.

However, if some people are more comfortable at home for now, operators in a position to meet guests where they are to generate revenue should do so.

Lawmakers Respond

Carryout and delivery beer and wine sales have been legal for some time in many states. Mixed drinks, not so much.

The rules addressing “to-go” cocktails (carryout and delivery are more accurate) were relaxed in several markets in response to indoor dining bans and shutdowns.

However, “loose” laws aren’t permanent changes. Some jurisdictions will eventually rescind their relaxed approach and ban to-go cocktails unless specific legislation passes.

Iowa is the first American state to legalize to-go cocktails permanently. The vote was unanimous in the Iowa House and nearly so in the Iowa Senate.

Operators in Canada or America who intend to sell to-go cocktails must be aware of their jurisdiction’s specific rules, including but not limited to packaging requirements, volume restrictions, food sale components, and transportation laws.

Canada: Delivery and Carryout Rules

Currently, KRG Hospitality operates in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario for the Canadian market. Therefore, we’re focusing on those provinces for this article.


While packaged, unopened liquor may be sold for off-site consumption, pre-made cocktails may not. Food sales must accompany liquor sales.

British Columbia

The province’s approach to liquor sales for delivery and carryout are the same as Alberta’s. Operators can’t sell to-go mixed drinks.


Restaurants and bars can sell pre-made cocktails sealed in bottles, cans, and bags. Like the other two provinces, food sales must accompany to-go liquor sales.

America: Permanent, Extended, Up for Consideration

In total, 11 states have made the move to legalize to-go mixed drinks permanently:

  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Montana
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Others have introduced bills to make to-go cocktails legal permanently:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Kansas
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania

A handful have extended to-go cocktails until at least 2022:

  • Delaware (March 2022)
  • Illinois (2024)
  • Maine (September 2022)
  • Virginia (July 2022)
  • Washington (July 2023)

Image: Jonas Tebbe on Unsplash

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International Chain Slashes Menu

International Chain Slashes Menu

by David Klemt

Applebee's Grill & Bar casual dining restaurant

If you’re curious as to whether “lean and mean” menus are here to stay as a result of the pandemic, look no further than one international chain.

Moving forward, Applebee’s Grill + Bar menus will be some 60 items lighter.

The chain’s menu will be 38 percent smaller, and the change is permanent.

Significant Overhaul

Of course, it isn’t like the Applebee’s menu is tiny now. At about 100 items, it’s still larger than most independent restaurant menus. For contrast, KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey, in most cases, recommends 12- to 32-item food menus.

Still, the casual dining chain cutting 60 items permanently is a big move.

The decision is a direct result of the pandemic and the toll it took on Applebee’s and the industry overall. Unfortunately, like many operators big and small, chain and independent, the chain had to furlough staff. Lightening the menu made it easier for the chain to adapt and shift toward takeout and delivery.

Weak performers and complex items that affect efficiency are gone. According to John Cywinski, Applebee’s president, the decision means faster ticket times, more consistency, and better efficiency.

Among the 60 or so items that are no longer available: the triple cheeseburger, clam chowder, and BBQ brisket tacos.

Streamline Summer

The decision to eliminate dozens of complex and lagging items puts Applebee’s in a better position for Summer 2021, potentially.

Speaking with CNN Business, Cywinski said, “The team will have to be very thoughtful about every single product or beverage they introduce, and the consequence of it from a complexity standpoint.”

That thoughtful approach is crucial in large part because of Applebee’s new menu policy: When a new item comes onto the menu, an old item must go.

Accordingly, Applebee’s can remain innovative while avoiding once again inflating their menus.

With demand for social interaction, a return to normalcy, and in-person restaurant and bar visits set to explode, Applebee’s finds itself with a menu that’s nearly 40-percent smaller. That should make it simpler for the chain’s restaurant and bar teams to fill orders quickly, efficiently, and consistently.

Menu Refresh

Every operator needs to know their numbers. That doesn’t just mean costs and inventory, by the way.

Do you know the cook times for each food item on your menu? Do you know how many dishes you can make with a given ingredient? Is thoughtful cross-utilization an important element of your F&B operations?

The answers to those questions can help you identify bottlenecks in your operation and become more agile.

Another important question to consider: Do you know which menu items are your slowest sellers? If you do, answer this: Why are they still on your menu?

When you eliminate an item, yes, some guests will express their disappointment. You’ll have to weigh the costs of keeping a poor performer against freeing up resources by losing an item that rarely sells. You may even identify an item that you personally love but just doesn’t move. Again, you have to do what’s best for your bottom line.

You may not have 160 items on your menu. You may not have 100. That doesn’t mean you don’t have at least a handful of items that you can eliminate to reduce costs and increase revenue.

Image: Applebee’s Grill + Bar

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SevenRooms Reveals Third Party Impact

SevenRooms Reveals Third Party Delivery Impact

by David Klemt

Person using Uber Eats on their iPhone

New findings from SevenRooms, the powerful reservation and guest relationship platform, show the impact third-party delivery has on restaurants.

In partnership with YouGov, a respected internet-based market research and data analytics firm, SevenRooms finds that direct delivery saves operators thousands of dollars per month.

The overall finding of the “Data & Dollars: Revealing the Impact of Third-Party Marketplaces” report is startling. Operators are relying on a technology that in reality is harming them and their bottom line.

Cost of Convenience

Foodservice operators and workers, along with being hospitable in their mission to serve others, are adaptable.

The industry proves this time and time again. This is particularly true of the past 12 months.

Nimble operators pivot quickly, so it makes sense that so many restaurants, bars and other foodservice businesses embrace delivery, takeout and curbside pickup. Doing so is a direct and seemingly logical response to a major shift in consumer behavior to lockdowns, restrictions, and health concerns.

Most operators are well aware that state third-party delivery platforms take a 30-percent commission on average. However, the cost goes beyond devastatingly high fees: operators also lose control of the guest journey.

Real-world Example

SevenRooms illustrates the negative financial impact third-party delivery platforms with three examples: a high-end Italian restaurant in New York; a high-end steakhouse in Los Angeles; and a high-volume casual restaurant in California.

Let’s take a look at the last example.

Over a six-month period, the restaurant fulfills 19,000 combined orders. Delivery makes up 75 percent of these orders, takeout/pickup account for 25 percent. The average order is $33, and over the six-month period the total order volume is $617,500. Had the restaurant implemented direct delivery rather than third-party, they would have saved about $154,000.

Break those savings down and the restaurant would save approximately $25,600 per month that could go to:

  • PPE: 853 boxes of face masks or 196 boxes of gloves.
  • Takeout: 101,000 food containers.
  • Guest experience: 522 tanks of propane to keep guests warm on patios.

Using an average rent amount of $6,000-15,000 per month in Los Angeles, that’s also two to four months’ rent.

Guests Support Direct Delivery

The impact of third-party delivery on restaurants isn’t lost on consumers. Many view ordering food as more than just convenient, they see it as a way to support their favorite businesses.

Luckily, consumers are supportive of ordering delivery, takeout and pickup directly from restaurants.

Per SevenRooms:

  • Firstly, 37 percent of Americans are eager to do anything they can to help restaurants.
  • Nearly half, 48 percent, think it’s more economical to order directly from a restaurant.
  • 28 percent who say they prefer ordering directly to third-party delivery feel that way after seeing their favorite restaurants suffer.
  • 23 percent are informed and think third-party delivery platforms charge restaurants too much in fees.
  • 16 percent feel that the harm done to restaurants by third-party delivery outweighs any benefits.

Leverage Direct Delivery Support

SevenRooms identifies several ways in their report that operators can succeed in getting consumers to order directly.

One way is the platforms’ own Direct Delivery solution. We speak to SevenRooms CEO Joel Montaniel about this solution on our Bar Hacks podcast.

Then, of course, there are an array of incentives consumers are willing to accept in exchange for direct delivery and ordering:

  • 41 percent of Americans would order directly over ordering via third-party if a restaurant has its own app with features such as tracking and communication.
  • 37 percent consider a complimentary item such as an appetizer, drink or dessert in addition to their order an appealing incentive.
  • 32 percent like the idea of a personalized promotion applied to a future order or in-person visit.
  • 28 percent indicate interest in a personalized promotion for their meal such as a discount code or comp item.
  • 17 percent are fans of restaurants using ordering history to customize their menu and experience.

Read the entire report here. To learn more about SevenRooms, please click here. Connect with SevenRooms on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Image: cottonbro from Pexels

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E-Commerce Alters Drinking Occasion

E-Commerce Alters Drinking Occasion

by David Klemt

According to estimates, beverage alcohol e-commerce grew by 40 percent in 2020.

Per data from the IWSR, ten “core countries” are driving that growth: Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States. China, the reigning campion of beverage alcohol e-commerce, is expected to be toppled by the US by the end of this year.

Of particular note: growth in the above markets more than doubled from 2019, when online alcohol retail grew by 11 percent.

What this Means for Brick-and-Mortar Operations

We all know what drove the growth in online alcohol sales.

In their quest to find comfort in the midst of the global 2020 pandemic, they became comfortable with purchasing alcohol online as a long-term behavior. Alcohol brands were forced to pivot to online sales channels due to restaurants, bars, lounges, nightclubs and other brick-and-mortar F&B operations facing constantly shifting restrictions and closures. (See also: Los Angeles County restaurant restrictions.)

To compete, operators must continue to do what they’ve had to even before a pandemic absolutely ravaged the hospitality industry and millions of people’s livelihoods: adapt.

For at least several more months, drinking at home will be its own occasion, for obvious reasons. The IWSR expects brands to invest more into online alcohol retail. If that proves to be the case, operators can expect–as a worst-case scenario–fewer dollars spent on their brick-and-mortar operations.

Getting creative with alcohol delivery, takeout and pickup is crucial to give operators the best chance to be included in the at-home drinking occasion.

The Trends to Watch

In terms of delivery trends, you can click here for food trends so you can consider complimentary beverages. Click here for 2021 drink trends, which certainly include alcohol-free beer.

Athletic Brewing Co. alcohol-free craft beers.

Athletic Brewing Co. alcohol-free craft beers. Image: Athletic Brewing Co.

Speaking of delivery, the growth in alcohol e-commerce makes owning the guest journey by offering direct delivery even more important.

The IWSR has identified their own set of trends tied to the growth of alcohol e-commerce:

  1. As touched on above, at-home drinking becoming its own occasion outright.
  2. Premiumization will change. Some consumers will experiment less and focus on their favorite brands, and others will turn to brick-and-mortar channels for premium experiences.
  3. Politics will play a noticeable role on beverage alcohol, not just in the US but across the globe. Tariffs could change and strict e-commerce regulations could loosen.
  4. RTDs will remain strong or get stronger. Per the IWSR, “innovation in alcohol bases, exploration of new and increasingly local flavors, and premium product offerings” will ensure RTDs remain a crucial beverage category in 2021.
  5. Low- and zero-alcohol drink options will continue their evolution. Once stigmatized, these drinks exploded in popularity in 2020. For 2021, the IWSR expects them to become aspirational.

Last year changed the industry. Comfort, convenience, and a heightened awareness of health and wellness are altering how people consume and engage with brands, restaurants and bars. Operators, already facing challenges from all sides, must take the time to develop strategies to compete for e-commerce dollars.

Image: mentatdgt from Pexels

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Rise of the ‘Not’ Delivery Platforms

Rise of the ‘Not’ Delivery Platforms

by David Klemt

The big third-party delivery services are facing pushback in the form of community-based competition.

We’ve kept our eye on this burgeoning trend and the push for operators to implement first-party delivery, also known as direct delivery.

It isn’t directly related to hospitality but the first of the “not” sites that grabbed our attention was Not Amazon. As the name suggests, Not Amazon is…well…not Amazon.

The founder highlights businesses owned and operated by women and BIPOC and LGBTQA+ people. However, Not Amazon goes even further, as illustrated in their mission statement:

“Providing the most we can, while taking as little as possible, in order to build a new kind of community.”

Community and neighborhood support is at the core of Not Amazon. The digital era has been marked by local, mom-and-pop brick-and-mortar businesses suffering in the wake of online shopping. Convenience has outweighed community. More often than not, women-, BIPOC- and LGBTQA+-owned businesses have been disproportionately affected by “convenience.”

Of course, it makes sense with a global pandemic to shop online. Not Amazon, which currently serves Calgary, Halifax, Toronto and Vancouver, provides a viable alternative to its behemoth of an online retail counterpart.

That brings us to two compelling hospitality industry-specific platforms.

It’s not a secret that KRG Hospitality supports first-party and last-mile delivery. In fact, we’ve very clearly explained that operators lose guest data and control over the guest journey when they sign with a third-party delivery company.

That’s to say nothing of the fees third-party services charge their F&B “partners.” Is it convenient that DoorDash, UberEats, Postmates and other companies provide a semblance of infrastructure, the lure of reaching a larger pool of customers, and drivers (including the associated liability)? Sure.

But are the costs associated with doing business with a third-party delivery company worth it? Most likely not.

Studies have also shown that when a delivery goes wrong on the third-party’s end–cold food, for instance–it’s the restaurant that tends to get the blame.

There are two websites that, like Not Amazon, have popped up to put supporting local restaurants front and center: Not UberEats and NotGrubhub.

The former serves Toronto and operates as a non-profit, according to their FAQ page. The latter is mainly focused on the United States, offers the option to purchase gift cards, and is powered by Lunchbox. NotGubhub also boasts more than 100,000 direct ordering links.

Both operate in similar fashion: Restaurants submit their information to be added to the respective platforms, provide an ordering link, and obtain a listing. From there, people can search by location for restaurants in their area to place a delivery order.

In the case of NotUberEats, deliveries are fulfilled by Ritual or DoorDash. As noted on their FAQ page, Ritual is offering Toronto restaurants free delivery through 2021. Restaurants can also DoorDash because, as NotUberEats explains in their FAQs, the service is charging a flat rate and not collecting any commissions.

People can also send restaurant information to NotUberEats to help grow their listings. Anyone who wishes to do so is asked to provide at least 50 businesses in their city and submit them here.

Operators ready to make the move to first-party/direct delivery and own their guest journey should consider the following platforms:

With delivery here to stay, the sooner operators transition to direct delivery, the better. There’s no longer a reason to lose control of guests, a profitable operational element, or costs.

Image: Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash