Data

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Did This Beer Win Super Bowl LVIII?

Did This Beer Win Super Bowl LVIII?

by David Klemt

A pint glass overflowing with beer

Now that the Super Bowl is over, behavioral insight platform Veylinx is revealing the impact on brands that advertised during this year’s big game.

If Veylinx sounds familiar to you, you may be a regular KRG Hospitality news reader. Last month we looked at their dive into alcohol-free canned cocktails. Last year, we shared a Veylinx report with a focus on whether Super Bowl ads really work on consumers. And in 2022, Veylinx wondered if the interest in zero-proof drinks was all hype or worth leveraging.

This month, Veylinx is at it again. This time, however, they’re revealing which brands—those that advertised during Super Bowl LVIII—saw the biggest ROI. For context, a 30-second spot during the big game cost approximately $7 million this year.

That’s a ton of cash to shell out in the hopes of seeing a sales increase on- and off-premise.

Speaking of on-premise, Veylinx’s findings should be of interest to operators. The beer that Veylinx says “won” the Super Bowl will likely be top of mind among your guests who watched the game and the accompanying ads.

So, it stands to reason that they’ll either expect to find that beer on a menu. Likewise, they may be swayed to order the beer if they see it when scanning a bar’s taps, menu, or fridges.

With that in mind, operators may want to watch their sales of Michelob Ultra.

Study Methodology

For their latest report, Veylinx used similar methodology to their Elixir non-alcoholic canned cocktail study.

A mix of 50 percent men and fifty percent women participated in the study. All 1,604 participants were US residents aged 21 or older. Looking deeper into the participants, the age breakdown is as follows:

  • 21 to 27: 30 percent
  • 28 to 43: 25 percent
  • 44 to 59: 25 percent
  • 60 and older: 20 percent

Like the Elixir (a fake brand invented by Veylinx) study, participants bid on products with their own money. The auction mix consisted of products that advertised during Super Bowl LVIII and those that did not advertise during the game.

Study Results

Among all viewers of Super Bowl LVIII, brands that advertised during the game saw an average lift of 16 percent.

However, those brands saw the biggest boost in demand—24 percent—among men. Gen Z followed, with demand in advertised brands growing by 11 percent. Among women, brands that advertised saw just a nine-percent boost in demand.

While Doritos Dinamita was the number-one brand among all viewers in general, and men and Gen Z in particular, Michelob Ultra is a close second. Interestingly, the beer brand was the top-performer among women in terms of demand growth.

For those wondering, no alcohol brands were among the top three performers for Gen Z.

So, operators who have noticed in uptick in Michelob Ultra sales may have Super Bowl LVIII to thank. If that’s the case, if sales of Michelob Ultra have increased in bars and restaurants since this year’s big game, it appears that yes, Super Bowl ads still work on consumers.

Image: cottonbro studio on Pexels

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Best and Worst Cities for Servers

Service Wins and Woes: Best and Worst Cities for Servers

by David Klemt

Aerial photograph of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at night

A recent survey from gaming industry site Casinos.US identifies the 25 best and two-dozen worst cities for servers in America.

I can share two details about the methodology that Casinos.US employed.

One, they surveyed 2,000 current and former hospitality professionals. And two, they were asked to rate the overall rudeness of their guests on a scale of one to ten. One is the kindest, ten is the rudest.

Further, I can share that the average rudeness of guests being served in the US is 4.9 out of ten. Unfortunately, the three worst cities on the Casinos.US list rank between 7.0 and 7.6 on the rudeness scale. In fact, 22 of the 24 worst cities come in at 5.0 or above.

No city is perfect. The best of the best earns a score of 2.0, with the next best hitting a 3.0. Still, not bad at all.

Sadly, 45 percent of respondents reported finding themselves interacting with rude guests at least twice per day. As far as the worst of the worst, respondents identified “older adults” as the rudest, and Sunday as the day of the week with the most incidents. Do with that information as you will.

There are two sides to the coin, of course. Impressively, 24 percent of respondents “rarely” encounter rudeness from guests. Even better, 28 percent don’t expect to come across rude guests on a daily basis at work. So, there’s some hope out there.

To review the results of this survey for yourself, click here.

The Worst

Alright, let’s get it out of the way. Below, the worst cities in America for servers, according to Casinos.us.

To the right, their rudeness score. Again, the score is out of ten, with ten being the absolute worst.

  1. Washington, DC (4.9)
  2. Orlando, Florida (4.9)
  3. San Antonio, Texas (5.0)
  4. Sacramento, California (5.0)
  5. Columbus, Ohio (5.0)
  6. Buffalo, New York (5.0)
  7. Houston, Texas (5.1)
  8. St. Louis, Missouri (5.1)
  9. Atlanta, Georgia (5.1)
  10. Louisville, Kentucky (5.3)
  11. Miami, Florida (5.3)
  12. Nashville, Tennessee (5.4)
  13. New York, New York (5.4)
  14. Phoenix, Arizona (5.6)
  15. Detroit, Michigan (5.7)
  16. San Diego, California (5.8)
  17. Las Vegas, Nevada (5.8)
  18. New Orleans, Louisiana (5.8)
  19. Milwaukee, Wisconsin (6.0)
  20. Providence, Rhode Island (6.3)
  21. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (6.3)
  22. Jacksonville, Florida (7.0)
  23. Cincinnati, Ohio (7.0)
  24. Virginia Beach, Virginia (7.6)

This list, if accurate, leaves me with one question: What’s going on, Virginia Beach? Sheesh. Calm down—your side of ranch isn’t that important, I promise.

It’s tempting to label this a tourist issue. Well over 10 million people—nearly 20 million in 2019—visit Virginia Beach annually.

And, hey, look at the rest of the list; it’s loaded with destination cities that draw millions upon millions of tourists each year.

However, when you look at the list of the best cities for servers below you’ll find more destination cities.

The Best

Now that we know the worst, let’s check out the best.

The cities below rank the lowest as far as rude behavior from guests.

  1. Dallas, Texas (4.8)
  2. Minneapolis, Minnesota (4.8)
  3. Boston, Massachusetts (4.8)
  4. Birmingham, Alabama (4.8)
  5. Salt Lake City, Utah (4.8)
  6. Los Angeles, California (4.7)
  7. San Francisco, California (4.7)
  8. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (4.7)
  9. Raleigh, North Carolina (4.6)
  10. Riverside, California (4.5)
  11. Kansas City, Missouri (4.5)
  12. Seattle, Washington (4.5)
  13. Charlotte, North Carolina (4.4)
  14. Richmond, Virginia (4.3)
  15. Cleveland, Ohio (4.3)
  16. Indianapolis, Indiana (4.2)
  17. Chicago, Illinois (4.1)
  18. Denver, Colorado (4.1)
  19. Portland, Oregon (4.0)
  20. Tampa, Florida (3.8)
  21. Hartford, Connecticut (3.8)
  22. Austin, Texas (3.8)
  23. Baltimore, Maryland (3.7)
  24. Memphis, Tennessee (3.0)
  25. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2.0)

Philly may be the City of Brotherly Love but the Steel City, Pittsburgh, is the best for servers in terms of guest behavior. At least, according to Casinos.US.

If you live in one of the cities above, go out to bars and restaurants, and aren’t a jerk to your servers, congratulations on being a decent person.

Takeaway

Let’s say you’re an owner, operator, or leadership team member. And let’s say you operate or work in one of the cities above, whether the best or worst.

If your service team routinely on edge, regularly upset, find out why. Leaders look out for their teams and strive to provide a healthy work environment.

I’m not saying you need to get into the details of their personal lives. What I am saying is that if there are issues in the workplace, you need to get to the bottom of them. More importantly, you then need to engage the team and get their feedback.

How do they want guest issues handled by the leadership team? Are their problematic regulars who need to be “fired” to protect the team? Some guests simply aren’t worth the revenue and tips in exchange for the emotional and mental distress they’re inflicting on the team.

That is, however, something that must be discussed. Most importantly, when the feedback is taken into account and a procedure is put in place, leadership must adhere to it and act accordingly. Any deviation will result in a loss of trust, and that will decimate team morale even more quickly than an encounter with a rude guest.

Lose trust from your team, lose the business.

Image: Venti Views on Unsplash

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Pizza Today Reveals Top New Cheeses

Pizza Today Reveals Top New Cheeses for 2024

by David Klemt

Cheese pull from cheese pizza

Pizza Today‘s informative 2024 Pizza Industry Trends Report is full of useful information, from top styles and toppings to new cheeses guests can choose.

Two weeks ago we did a deep dive into the top eleven pizza styles going into 2024, per Pizza Today. Click here to read that article.

Last week we checked out what the pizza publication had to say about top pizza styles by region. Additionally, we looked at the top toppings nationally and regionally. You can read that article here.

Now, we’re going to talk about what Pizza Today has learned about the top cheeses operators are putting on their menus.

Top Pizza Styles, Nationally and Regionally

Before we jump into the cheeses, a quick recap of the top pizza styles in America.

  1. New York
  2. Traditional American
  3. Sicilian
  4. Deep Dish
  5. Neapolitan / Napoletana
  6. Chicago Thin / Tavern-style
  7. Detroit
  8. Grandma
  9. California / American Artisan
  10. NEOpolitan / Neo-Neapolitan and Chicago Thick (tie)

And now, the top trending pizza styles.

  1. Detroit
  2. Deep Dish and Grandma (tie)
  3. Sicilian
  4. New York
  5. Chicago Thin

Finally, the top pizza styles by region. For a more detailed explanation of each region, click here.

The West

  1. New York Style
  2. Traditional America
  3. California/American Artisan
  4. Sicilian
  5. Neapolitan

The South

  1. New York Style
  2. Traditional America
  3. Sicilian
  4. Deep Dish
  5. Neapolitan

The Midwest

  1. Traditional America
  2. Chicago Thin
  3. New York Style
  4. Deep Dish
  5. Detroit

The Northeast

  1. New York Style
  2. Sicilian
  3. Traditional America
  4. Neapolitan
  5. Grandma

Top Pizza Toppings, Nationally and Regionally

We’re almost to the cheeses. First, a recap of the most popular items to put on top of cheese.

Well, unless we’re talking a stuffed pizza. Click here and scroll to Deep Dish to see what I mean.

Now, the top toppings across the US.

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Extra Cheese
  5. Bacon
  6. Chicken
  7. Onion
  8. Red/Green Bell Pepper
  9. Ham
  10. Black Olives
  11. Meatballs
  12. Canadian Bacon
  13. Jalapenos
  14. Pineapple
  15. Beef
  16. Basil
  17. Banana Peppers
  18. Fresh garlic
  19. Tomatoes
  20. Spinach

Below, how toppings break down regionally.

The West

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Chicken
  5. Bacon

The South

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Extra cheese
  5. Bacon

The Midwest

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Bacon
  5. Onion

The Northeast

  • Pepperoni
  • Sausage
  • Mushroom
  • Extra cheese
  • Bacon

Top “New” Cheeses

Okay, so we’ve reviewed top pizza styles. We’ve done a recap for toppings.

So, what are some of the top “new” cheeses going onto those pizza styles and being covered in all those toppings?

It may seem odd the refer to the cheeses below as “new.” In this context, “new” means, “not mozzarella” or “not provolone,” for the most part. Or, if you’re in St. Louis, “not Provel.”

  • Ricotta
  • Cheddar
  • Fresh Mozzarella
  • Goat Cheese
  • Parmigiano Crema
  • Cotija Cheese
  • Scamorza
  • Vegan Cheese
  • Blue Cheese
  • Feta

Guests love personalization, and they love the opportunity to try new foods and new takes on foods they know.

Scamorza

For the most part, you’re likely familiar with all the cheeses above. However, if you’re like me, you may be unfamiliar with scamorza. If that’s the case, I looked into it for both of us.

Like mozzarella, scamorza is made from either stretched cow or water buffalo milk cheese curds. This cheese originates from Italy and comes in two styles: scamorza bianca or and scamorza affumicata. The former is white or natural, while the latter is smoked and brownish in appearance.

Further, bianca is a mild, somewhat sweet cheese. Affumicata, being smoked, delivers a more savory and, as one would expect, smoky flavor.

Vegan Cheese

If you aren’t offering vegan or plant-based cheese for your pizzas, you may not know what brands to use.

Well, don’t worry. I’ve also done some legwork into this topic.

Brands to check out are Violife, Diya, Chao, and Miyoko’s. As plant-based alternatives become more commonplace and expected by guests, I expect more commercial vegan-friendly cheeses to become available. Perhaps we’ll see some at this year’s National Restaurant Association Show.

Image: Pablo Pacheco on Unsplash

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Top Pizza Styles & Toppings by Region

Top Pizza Styles & Toppings by Region

by David Klemt

Person clawing slice of pepperoni pizza

That’s one way to pick up a slice of pizza…

Now that we know the top 11 pizza styles in North America thanks to Pizza Today, let’s see how they break down by region.

Unfortunately, they don’t include regions throughout Canada in their trends report. However, the information is still incredibly valuable.

Pizza Today has put a lot of effort into their 2024 Pizza Industry Trends Report. So, make sure to click this link and check it out for yourself.

Before we jump into the regional breakdown, let’s check out which pizza toppings lead the way across the nation. As you’ll see later, while many regions follow national trends, they also deviate in notable ways.

If you read last week’s article, you already know which pizza styles dominate North America. For those of you haven’t yet read that article, click here.

That said, here are the top 20 toppings in America.

Top Toppings: Nationwide

If you operate a pizzeria or pizza is a significant focus of your business, you probably know the number one topping.

The image at the top of this article is a hint.

Per Pizza Today, these are the top 20 toppings in the US:

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Extra Cheese
  5. Bacon
  6. Chicken
  7. Onion
  8. Red/Green Bell Pepper
  9. Ham
  10. Black Olives
  11. Meatballs
  12. Canadian Bacon
  13. Jalapenos
  14. Pineapple
  15. Beef
  16. Basil
  17. Banana Peppers
  18. Fresh garlic
  19. Tomatoes
  20. Spinach

Due to outright bias, I hope to see meatballs break into the top ten one of these days. That’s my number one topping.

Now that we’ve shared the top 20 toppings according to Pizza Today, let’s check out the regional breakdown.

The West

This region includes two subregions, Pacific and Mountain.

In alphabetical order, the Pacific states are Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. The Mountain region includes Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.

So, if you’re in one of those 13 states, the info below is relevant to you.

Top Styles

  1. New York Style
  2. Traditional America
  3. California/American Artisan
  4. Sicilian
  5. Neapolitan

Number three makes sense, given this region includes California. Otherwise, the West follows the top five pizza styles in the US rather closely.

Top Toppings

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Chicken
  5. Bacon
  6. Extra cheese
  7. Black Olives
  8. Onion
  9. Jalapenos
  10. Pineapple

In the West, the top three toppings are the same as the rest of the nation. However, chicken and bacon overtake extra cheese in the this region.

The South

Pizza Today divides the South into three subregions: East South Central, South Atlantic, and West South Central.

The former consists of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The South Atlantic includes Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia. And West South Central is made up of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.

As you’ll see, the top five pizza styles in the South are the same as the top across the US. Further, the top five toppings in the region are also the same top five nationally. It isn’t until numbers six through ten that we encounter deviations.

Top Styles

  1. New York Style
  2. Traditional America
  3. Sicilian
  4. Deep Dish
  5. Neapolitan

Top Toppings

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Extra cheese
  5. Bacon
  6. Onion
  7. Chicken
  8. Red/Green pepper
  9. Beef
  10. Ham

Beef is number 15 nationally, if you don’t want to scroll up and check for yourself.

The Midwest

The Midwest, per Pizza Today, is organized into two subregions. Those are East North Central and West North Central.

Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin make up the former. Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota are the states in the latter subregion.

Top Styles

As a proud Midwesterner, I’m happy to report that the region didn’t disappoint when it comes to the region’s top pizza styles.

  1. Traditional America
  2. Chicago Thin
  3. New York Style
  4. Deep Dish
  5. Detroit

The argument that Chicago Thin (a.k.a. Chicago Tavern) rather than Deep Dish is the true Chicago pizza style is bolstered with these rankings.

Top Toppings

Pizza Today shares only five toppings for this region. Notably, extra cheese doesn’t make it in, kicked out by onion.

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Bacon
  5. Onion

The Northeast

The Middle Atlantic and New England are the two subregions of the Northeast.

For their report, Pizza Today identifies New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania as the three Middle Atlantic states. New England is Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Top Style

Number five, given where it was reportedly created, isn’t a surprise.

In fact, the whole list makes sense:

  1. New York Style
  2. Sicilian
  3. Traditional America
  4. Neapolitan
  5. Grandma

It’s also not a surprise that Deep Dish doesn’t make it into the Northeast’s top five pizza styles.

Top Toppings

Further, the top five of ten top toppings in the Northeast are the same nationally.

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Extra cheese
  5. Bacon
  6. Chicken
  7. Onion
  8. Red/Green pepper
  9. Meatballs
  10. Banana Peppers

However, as you can see, meatballs (my favorite) and banana peppers break into the top ten in this region.

Takeaways

Obviously, there are more than just 20 toppings finding their way onto pizzas in the US. Pizza Today reports that birria, fig jam, hot honey, pasilla peppers, and pickled vegetables have earned their way onto menus in at least the past 12 months.

And when it comes the top 20 toppings, there’s nuance. For example, there are multiple styles of pepperoni and preparation, and the same holds true for sausage.

All this is to say the following: A blend of popular, traditional toppings along with the unexpected and new is likely a winning combination. This can include exotic ingredients, plant-based analogs, and international herbs and spices.

Remember, it’s pizza; it’s supposed to tempting and fun.

Image: Maksim Goncharenok on Pexels

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Can It? NA Canned Cocktail Performance

Can It? Zero-proof Canned Cocktail Performance

by David Klemt

Moth Margarita canned cocktails stacked on a black, wood table

Veylinx, a behavioral research platform trusted by some of the world’s biggest brands, has turned their attention alcohol-free canned cocktails for a recent study.

They’ve researched demand for non-alcohol before. In fact, you can find our analysis of their 2022 study here. We’ve also covered their look into the effectiveness of Super Bowl ads.

For their latest study, consumer demand for non-alcoholic canned cocktails, Veylinx showed how seriously they take research and methodology.

Conducted between November and December of 2023, the platform created a fictional canned cocktail brand, Elixir. This was done to account for brand bias.

Further, the “brand” produced two benchmark products—alcohol and alcohol-free—and four variations. These non-alcoholic variants offered four different benefits: CBD, mood boost, zero-calorie, and natural detox.

All participants were 21 or older:

  • 21 to 25
  • 26 to 35
  • 36 to 45
  • 46 to 55
  • 56 to 65
  • Older than 65

Half of the study identified as male, and the other half as female. Most, 73 percent, were alcohol drinkers, while 27 percent were not.

For the study, Veylinx had each participant, 410 in total, bid on the six Elixir products with their own money. The bidding took place in randomized, sequential auction.

After the auction, the participants completed a questionnaire. The following is a sample question:

“What would be the main reasons for you NOT to buy non-alcoholic beverages? Please select all that apply.”

Possible answers to that question were: Limited availability, Limited variety, Flavor, and/or Other.

With methodology explained, let’s check out the results.

Canned Cocktails by the Numbers

While demand for non-alcohol canned cocktails appears to be growing, their counterparts remain most popular.

Per Veylinx, demand for Elixir’s alcoholic canned cocktails surged by 20 percent in their study. In comparison, average demand for the fictional brand’s non-alcoholic benchmark and variants canned cocktails increased by four percent.

Further, the full-proof and zero-proof CBD products garnered the most interest. The alcoholic version saw an uplift of seven percent, and CBD saw a three-percent uplift. Consumers showed the least interest in non-alcohol, zero-calorie variants.

Comparing 2022 to 2023, demand for “standard” alcohol-free canned cocktails is up 14 percent. This is followed by the CBD variant with four-percent growth in consumer demand. Next, non-alcoholic canned cocktails with a “mood-boosting” benefit, which grew by two percent. Natural detox saw an increase in demand of just one percent. And consumer demand for zero-calorie, zero-alcohol canned cocktails fell by one percent.

So, today’s consumer, at least according to research conducted by Veylinx, is most interested in alcoholic canned cocktails. Still, there’s growing interest in alcohol-free canned cocktails, something for operators to keep in mind.

Changes in Behavior

Speaking of interest in zero-proof, Veylinx uncovered some other interesting information.

In 2022, around 56 percent of consumers expressed interest reducing their alcohol consumption. That number fell by 18 percent to 38 percent in 2023. That’s still a significant percentage of consumers looking to make a big change in their lives.

Forty-one percent of consumers aged 21 to 35 are trying to reduce their alcohol intake. That number drops slightly to 36 percent for those aged 36 and older.

Veylinx also found that half of consumers would drink less alcohol if one simple change took place. All it would take is better-quality, non-alcohol versions at better prices to hit the market.

In fact, per Veylinx, consumers cited flavor and price as the two top influences on their decision to consume zero-proof canned cocktails. So far, energy drinks are the go-to for most consumers trying to drink less alcohol.

If they’re smart, brands with an interest in producing successful non-alcohol canned cocktails will work to improve costs, flavors, and health benefits, if this Veylinx study is taken to heart.

To review this study in its entirety yourself, click here. The press release for the study is below.

The Year of Canned Cocktails: Consumer Demand Increases for Non-Alcholic and Alcoholic Variations

NEW YORK, December 20, 2023 —  According to a new, year-over-year study from behavioral research platform Veylinx, consumer demand is increasing for both non-alcoholic and alcoholic canned cocktails. Using Veylinx’s proprietary methodology—which measures actual demand rather than intent— the study found that demand for non-alcoholic canned cocktails grew by 4%, while demand for alcoholic canned cocktails surged by 20% over last year.   

While interest remains strong for non-alcoholic alternatives, the percentage of people trying to reduce their alcohol consumption fell by 18%, to 38%. This decline from 2022 could lead to lower participation in abstinence events like Dry January. 

Half of respondents claimed they would drink less alcohol if better non-alcoholic alternatives were available, showing opportunity for yet more innovation in the beverage sector. Those looking to reduce their alcohol consumption are 50% more interested in non-alcoholic cocktails.

In 2022, “Never tried before,” was the top reason consumers gave for not buying canned non-alcoholic beverages. That is no longer the case in 2023, suggesting that non-alcoholic canned cocktails increased their market penetration over the last year. Flavor and price are now the primary reasons people don’t buy non-alcoholic cocktails.

“Even with fewer people trying to reduce their alcohol consumption, demand for non-alcoholic canned cocktails continues to grow,” said Veylinx founder and CEO Anouar El Haji. “Drinkers and non-drinkers alike are receptive to ready-to-drink alternatives that are better for their health and wallets.”

The study also measured demand for non-alcoholic cocktails enhanced with functional benefits like mood boosters, detoxifiers and CBD. Demand for the standard non-alcoholic version increased 14% from last year, while the enhanced variations increased only slightly and the zero-calorie version fell by 1%. This suggests consumers might be losing interest in what they perceive as marketing gimmicks. The CBD version saw a 4% increase in demand, remaining the most popular non-alcoholic variation. 

Additional key findings: 

  • The optimal price for non-alcoholic canned cocktails that maximizes revenue for brands is $12 for a four-pack

  • The brands consumers have tried the most are: 1) Mocktail Club, 2) Wild Tonic, 3) Spiritless, 4) DRY,  and 5) Hella Cocktail Co

  • 44% of people expressed support for an additional 10% tax on alcohol as a public health measure for reducing consumption 

  • For those aiming to drink less alcohol by replacing it with other beverages, energy drinks experienced the greatest increase in popularity

  • Physical Health and Cost are the two most popular reasons for reducing alcohol consumption

  • Grocery stores are the most popular place to buy non-alcoholic canned cocktails

  • Flavor options have the most influence on which brand consumers choose

  • A lower price would convince 20% of consumers to buy more non-alcoholic cocktails

To download more detailed results from the 2023 Non-Alcoholic Canned Cocktail study or for more information about Veylinx, visit https://veylinx.com/canned-cocktails

About the research 

Unlike typical surveys where consumers are simply asked about their preferences, Veylinx uses behavioral research to reveal how much consumers will pay for a product through a real bidding process. Consumers reveal their true willingness to pay by placing sealed bids on products and then answering follow-up questions about their reasons to buy or not to buy. The research was conducted in November and December 2023 among U.S. consumers ages 21 and over. It is a follow-up to a similar study Veylinx conducted in October 2022. The 2022 study can be found at https://info.veylinx.com/non-alcoholic-cocktails

Image: Ambitious Studio* – Rick Barrett on Unsplash

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Grubhub Reveals 2023 Order Trends

Grubhub Reveals 2023 Order Trends

by David Klemt

A veritable sea of pickle chips

Just under the wire Grubhub releases their annual end-of-year report, revealing their customers’ top ordering trends of 2023.

Uber Eats and DoorDash unveiled their reports at the end of October and start of November, respectively.

To revisit 2022 for a moment, the top food item ordered via Grubhub was the burrito. So, the unofficial theme of last year’s annual report was warmth and comfort wrapped in layers.

I’m providing that context because this year’s report also comes with a theme. This year, it’s “doing it for the vibes.” For Grubhub, this means that users of the service broke out of their comfort zones to try new F&B items.

Providing an example, one of the standout trends for 2023 is heat. As in, Grubhub users added spice to quite a lot of orders, as you’ll see below.

Click here to review Grubhub’s top 2022 food orders, and here for their 2022 beverage orders. To review this year’s Grubhub report in its entirety, click here.

Now, let’s take a look at a number of this year’s ordering trends.

Soft Drinks & Coffee

Usually, I start with food items when reviewing these reports. Well, once you become predictable, you become beatable. So, I’m going to shake things up and begin with beverages.

According to Grubhub, a TikTok trend—#dietcokebreak—is responsible for the growth of Diet Coke on the platform. In fact, the third-party delivery service says that in-office orders of Diet Coke grew by 17 percent. No surprise, then, that the soda grabbed the top spot in 2023.

Top 5 Sodas

  • Diet Coke
  • Coke
  • Sprite
  • Dr. Pepper
  • Ginger Ale

Next, coffee orders. Per this year’s Grubhub report, people weren’t shy about ordering coffee outside of the breakfast and lunch dayparts.

According to their data, more than 10 million coffee orders were placed after 5:00 PM.

Top 5 Coffee Orders

  • Iced Coffee
  • Caramel Frappe
  • Mocha Frappe
  • Cappuccino
  • Hot Coffee

Food & Flavors

Here’s an interesting revelation: more than 600,000 Grubhub users chose to order salads with a side of French fries.

In fact, the French fry is the top ordered side in 2023 on the platform. So, Grubhub ranked fries by style.

Top 5 French Fry Styles

  • Classic cut
  • Waffle fries
  • Cheese fries
  • Sweet potato fries
  • Curly fries

Hey, let’s reignite the pineapple on pizza debate. According to Grubhub’s year-end report, pineapple as a pizza topping grew by 33 percent in comparison to 2022.

However, Hawaiian pizza has some more growth to do if it wants to take the number one spot.

Top 5 Pizza Styles

  • Cheese Pizza
  • Margherita Pizza
  • Pepperoni Pizza
  • Buffalo Chicken Pizza
  • Hawaiian Pizza

Finally, top flavors. In short, heat is a hit.

Grubhub users added spice to a staggering 53 million orders this year. For further context, sriracha was added to more than 91,000 orders.

And when it comes to chicken wings, Buffalo was the dominant style. I find it interesting, though, that no style of wing made the top five for this category.

Top 5 Spicy Items

  • Spicy potato soft tacos
  • Spicy chicken sandwich
  • Spicy tuna roll
  • Hot and sour soup
  • Drunken noodles

Bringing this report to a close, the item with the most growth. Pickles grew by 89 percent in 2023, accounting for 6.9 million orders.

So, I guess make sure your pickles, French fries, cheese pizzas, and salads are on point as we head into the New Year.

Image: Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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af&co. x Carbonate: 2024 Trends to Watch

af&co. x Carbonate: 2024 Trends to Watch

by David Klemt

Paddle and ball on pickleball court

Marketing and creative agencies af&co. and Carbonate Group‘s 16th annual Hospitality Trends Report provides in-depth insight across several categories.

This is an in-depth, insightful report operators should review in its entirety. The “Sweet Sixteen” edition of this yearly report is available for download here.

There are two interesting details toward the end of af&co. and Carbonate’s report. First, a list of 2023 clients. Second, an explanation for the design of the report itself.

This makes sense: Carbonate is a creative agency that works in the hospitality space, after all. Further, af&co. is a hospitality industry marketing agency.

Now, I won’t be sharing every trend or insight found in these two agencies’ report. Rather, I’m highlighting a number of items across four of the report’s six categories. Again, I think operators and leadership team members should download the report for themselves.

Food

While af&co. and Carbonate identify specific cuisines and items that are trending, it’s their 10,000-foot view of food that I find most compelling. In terms of the big picture, “rigid” adherence to authentic cuisine is falling out of favor.

Chefs, in the agencies’ opinions, are taking a more modern approach to menus. Instead of following the “rules” of certain cuisines, they’re creating dishes and programs that defy labels. Of course, for those who feel the need to label, one could call this approach “contemporary fusion.”

Examples given are Good Luck Gato’s Okonomiyaki Baked Potato, and the Birria Dumplings at Little Bull.

Cuisine Trends

Of course, af& co. and Carbonate also zoom in on food. Their Cuisine of the Year goes to Korean.

Dessert of the Year goes to the Pavlova or Eton Mess. So, one can argue that operators should connect with their back-of-house teams about meringue-based desserts.

Other food trends include making pastries with buckwheat; getting inventive with mortadella; serving borek in snack and entree size; and Brazilian-style pizza.

However, it’s a presentation trend that stood out the most to me. Accompanied by a timeline complete with images, the agencies state confidently that we’re in the “Crescent Moon” era of plating.

Visualize a plate, then place all of the food along the edge, with roughly two-thirds of the space open. That’s the crescent moon presentation.

Beverage

A number of the trends in this section aren’t exactly new. That tells me that some are likely on the brink of moving from trend to ubiquity.

That, or they’re at risk of bumping against their expiration date.

Two trends that have been popping their fins out of the sea of cocktails for a bit make it into the af&co. and Carbonate report. One is clarified cocktails.

Spend a bit of time looking up cocktails on social media and you’ll see these are a bit divisive. Some bartenders are all for them, some appear to absolutely despise this trend. Guests, however, seem to like the novelty of well-known, opaque or translucent classic turning transparent.

Another drink trend? Culinary cocktails. For food-driven concepts, it makes perfect sense to encourage the bar team to work closely with the kitchen team. Offering culinary cocktails is one method of pulling a concept’s threads tighter, telling a more complete story.

Along those lines, the agencies identify another divisive cocktail trend: cheese.

Personally, cocktails that feature cheese aren’t my thing. However, these drinks are, at the minimum, going to grab a guest’s attention. And those who order these drinks aren’t likely to forget the experience any time soon, good or bad.

That last point is important for operators and their teams to remember. A negative experience can be more powerful and stick with a guest longer than a positive one. So, pursue trends with caution.

Hotel

One of the biggest hotel developments the Hospitality Trends Report identifies is the dual-brand hotel. This is also a trend with which KRG Hospitality is well acquainted, both through industry research and client projects.

So far, the most common approach tends to include two towers, a shared lobby and fitness center, and shared F&B concepts. However, there are properties that incorporate not only brand-specific design for each tower but separate the bars and restaurants as well.

Notably, Marriott opened the first-ever tri-brand hotel in Nashville in 2019. The hotel and resort colossus combined an AC Hotel, a Residence Inn, and a SpringHill Suites.

Another interesting hotel trend? Eco-friendly, pre-fab construction. An excellent example of this approach is Moliving. To learn more about this brand, check out Bar Hacks podcast episode 68 with Jordan and Hanna Bem.

Interest by consumers in supporting eco-friendly brands informs two other trends identified by af&co. and Carbonate. One of these is hotels and resorts including e-bikes among their amenities.

Another is rewarding guests for engaging in a number of green initiatives. For example, cleaning up the beach in front of a hotel, or helping to plant trees on or near the property.

Speaking further of amenities, hotel and resort operators are likely aware that if they have courts for racquet sports, they need to include pickleball.

Design

Operators considering a refresh or starting from a clean slate for a new space may want to work with a designer on the following approach: maximalism.

According to the 16th annual Hospitality Trends Report, this bold, playful design language is on the rise. Following this trend, af&co. and Carbonate think that maximalism is working particularly well for “concept-driven, design-forward” bars.

As far as colors and materials operators may want to ask designers about, the agencies suggest pink, bronze, gold, and velvet. These colors are warm and welcoming, exactly what a hospitality venue should be.

To download the Hospitality Trends Report, click here. Two categories not covered in this article are Marketing Ideas and Social Media Trends, so follow that link!

Image: Mason Tuttle on Pexels

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2023 State of the Menu: Datassential

2023 State of the Menu: Datassential

by David Klemt

Korean fried chicken wings

The annual 2023 State of the Menu by Datassential includes an interesting metric to gauge restaurant recovery: menu size by segment.

Hosts Jack Li, Mike Kostyo, and Claire Conaghan discuss a handful of topics during this webinar. Host Li touches on food-forward cities at the beginning of this presentaiton. Kostyo shares some of the most innovative menu items out there right now. And Conaghan dives deep into menu trends.

Industry professionals interested in watching this webinar on demand can register to do so here.

There are a handful of metrics people are using to measure post-pandemic restaurant recovery. Labor is, of course, receiving a lot of attention. People are also tracking traffic, average check size, revenue, and profits.

One metric Datassential is keeping tabs on is menu size per restaurant segment. Additionally, they’re tracking each segment’s top-growing food and beverage items.

Notably, however, in tracking menu size, Conaghan focuses solely on food and non-alcohol beverage items, omitting catering and alcohol.

Chains vs. Independents

Starting things off, Conaghan addresses the overall menu size trend. That is, menus are noticeably smaller in comparison to pre-pandemic sizes.

Interestingly, chain restaurants don’t appear to be in any rush to move away from this trend. In fact, Conaghan notes that chains appear to be further reducing the size of their menus. This has been the trend over the past 12 months.

According to Conaghan, fine dining also seems to be happy to shrink their menus. Menu size shrunk the most among restaurants in this segment. In comparison, quick-service menu sizes decreased the least.

However, independent restaurant operators appear to be going in the opposite direction from their chain counterparts. In contrast, indies have been growing the size of their menus the past 12 months.

Menu Size by Segment

Fast Casual

Per Conaghan, the only segment to reach pre-pandemic menu size is fast casual. In fact, this category of restaurant is often exceeding pre-pandemic items-per-menu size.

This increase in menu size is attributable to operators “leaning into” core cuisine items. For example, sandwiches, Mexican entrees, and pizza.

However, the fastest-growing food item on fast-casual menus is the chicken wing. According to Conaghan, it’s easy for operators to innovate with chicken wings.

A restaurant doesn’t have chicken wings? All they have to do is add them, starting with simple preparations. If a restaurant does have chicken wings on the menu already, innovation is as simple as adding new flavors.

As far as the fastest-growing drink for fast-casual restaurants, it’s dessert beverages.

QSR, Casual Dining, and Midscale

These three segments are “very, very close” to reaching pre-pandemic menu sizes.

As midscale operators are likely very aware, this segment tends to have the largest menus. I wouldn’t be surprised, therefore, if a number of midscale concepts review their items per menu, their costs, and decide they can perform well with slightly smaller menus moving forward.

Unsurprisingly, chicken wings are the food item growing most quickly on QSR food menus. Oh, and barbecue chicken wings are the fastest-growing food item among casual dining restaurants.

Perhaps a bit more eyebrow-raising is the fastest-growing beverage type for QSRs: energy drinks. Boba and flavored iced teas are growing fastest on casual-dining drink menus.

For midscale restaurants, dessert samplers are the fastest-growing food items. Think “dessert charcuterie” when trying to picture a dessert platter. Another way to think about the dessert sampler is a static dessert cart with small bites of each dessert on the menu.

Fine Dining

Again, this segment is the furthest from pre-pandemic menu size. And, again, operators in this category seem happy with this trend.

An interesting note Conaghan makes about this segment is what many operators are using to fill out their menus: desserts. This is, she says, an area where fine dining can differentiate itself from other concepts.

Per Conaghan, bao, applesauce, and summer squash are growing the fastest on fine-dining food menus.

Now, I may have slipped into a fever dream during this portion of the Datassential webinar. Because unless I’m mistaken, the Shirley Temple has been identified as the fastest-growing beverage in the fine-dining space.

Pricing

Okay, so this segment of the 2023 State of the Menu webinar isn’t really a recovery metric.

However, it’s interesting, and something Jack Li says about chain restaurant pricing made me chuckle.

Most Expensive vs. Least Expensive

First, some straightforward data.

The following list identifies the five most-expensive ZIP codes for chain restaurant menu pricing. Anyone who wants the full list of 15 most-expensive ZIP codes can watch the webinar.

  • 10036 (New York, NY)
  • 96707 (Kapolei, HI)
  • 98902 (Yakima, WA)
  • 96815 (Honolulu, HI)
  • 99503 (Anchorage, AK)

It’s understandable to think this would consist entirely of New York City, Los Angeles, or San Francisco ZIPs. But when we consider what it costs operators to import food to Hawaii and Alaska. Additionally, Washington and New York are among the states with the highest minimum wage. Operators need to recover those costs somehow.

And now the five least-expensive ZIP codes:

  • 78526 (Brownsville, TX)
  • 75224 (Dallas, TX)
  • 76106 (Fort Worth, TX)
  • 31907 (Columbus, GA)
  • 31701 (Albany, GA)

Pricing Logic

Now, on to what Li says during the webinar that makes me laugh.

Nationwide, the average price of a McDonald’s Big Mac in the US is $5.26. (A caveat: This webinar took place in October. This price may have increased or decreased by now.)

However, the lowest price for a Big Mac is $3.49 at a location in Wilburton, Oklahoma.

So, what’s the highest price, and where can one find these pricey Big Macs? Three McDonald’s locations sell the burger for $8.29. That’s nearly two-and-a-half times the lowest-priced Big Mac.

Summarizing pricing variations among chain restaurants succinctly, Li made me laugh with the following: “Store pricing often just doesn’t make sense.”

Going further, Li says Datassential shows that the more franchised a restaurant chain is, the more variances in pricing will occur.

The full webinar can be viewed here.

Image: Leonardo Luz on Pexels

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Wallethub Ranks Best Foodie Cities in US

Wallethub Ranks America’s Best Foodie Cities

by David Klemt

Eola Lake Park in Orlando, Florida

Comparing 182 cities across more than two dozen “food-friendliness” indicators, Wallethub has revealed their rankings for America’s best foodie cities in 2023.

Why 182 cities? Wallethub started with 150 of America’s most-populous cities. Then, they added “at least two” of the most-populous cities in each state.

Regarding the ranking itself, Wallethub compared the cities against two key measures: affordability, and diversity, accessibility, and quality. Those two measures consist of 28 key indicators, including:

  • cost of groceries;
  • restaurant meal cost;
  • sales tax;
  • food tax;
  • restaurants per capita;
  • ratio of full-service to fast-food restaurants; and
  • restaurant diversity.

Using a 100-point grading system, affordability was worth up to 30 points. Simple math shows diversity, accessibility, and quality indicators were worth up to 70 points.

Further, Wallethub valued indicators anywhere from half-weight (international grocery stores per capita) to triple weight (restaurants per capita).

Now, it’s important to contextualize Wallethub’s use of the word “foodie city” here. For their ranking, the company is identifying “the best and cheapest” cities for consumers for whom eating is an experience, hobby, and/or lifestyle.

“These wallet-friendly cities cater to diners who prefer to cook at home, explore the local flavors or both,” reads their post, which can be reviewed in its entirety here.

The Top 25

So, per Wallethub, the cities below are the top 25 among the 182 “best foodie cities in America in 2023.”

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Portland, Orgeon
  3. Sacramento, California
  4. Miami, Florida
  5. San Francisco, California
  6. Tampa, Florida
  7. San Diego, California
  8. Las Vegas, Nevada
  9. Austin, Texas
  10. Seattle, Washington
  11. Denver, Colorado
  12. Atlanta, Georgia
  13. Los Angeles, California
  14. Chicago, Illinois
  15. Richmond, Virginia
  16. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  17. Washington, DC
  18. St. Louis, Missouri
  19. Houston, Texas
  20. New York, New York
  21. Oakland, California
  22. Phoenix, Arizona
  23. Santa Ana, California
  24. Grand Rapids, Michigan
  25. Cincinnati, Ohio

Interestingly, you’ll find the “usual” foodie scene suspects on this list. However, a mere handful of those cities are ranked in the top ten: Miami, San Francisco, and Las Vegas.

Chicago (14), Los Angeles (13), and New York (20) don’t make the three or five. In fact, they’re out of the top ten entirely here.

If affordability is a major factor here, it raises an eyebrow that Miami is among the top five foodie cities. After all, sources show the cost of living in the city is 20 percent higher than the national average. The cost of living in San Francisco is nearly 80 percent higher.

At any rate, Orlando, per Wallethub’s methodology, is the number-one foodie city in America.

Compelling Comparisons

With the top 25 foodie cities out of the way, let’s check out a few other interesting comparisons.

Cost of Groceries

Lowest-cost cities, in descending order:

  1. Brownsville, Texas
  2. Corpus Christi, Texas
  3. Laredo, Texas
  4. Fayetteville, North Carolina
  5. Austin, Texas

The cities with the highest cost of groceries are Honolulu and Pearl City in Hawaii.

Restaurants per Capita

The cities with the most restaurants per capita, again in descending order:

  1. Miami, Florida
  2. Orlando, Florida
  3. Las Vegas, Nevada
  4. San Francisco, California
  5. Los Angeles, California

It’s important to note each of the cities on this list is, per Wallethub, tied for first place.

The city with the fewest restaurants per capita is Pearl City, Hawaii.

Ratio, FSR to Fast Food Restaurants

On this list, the five cities with the highest ratio of full-service restaurants to their fast-food counterparts (yes, in descending order):

  1. Cape Coral, Florida
  2. Santa Rosa, California
  3. Portland, Maine
  4. Burlington and South Burlington, Vermont

That leaves the city with the lowest ration, which is Jackson, Mississippi.

The Bottom Ten

Now that we know which cities Wallethub identifies the best foodie cities in the US, let’s take a look at the bottom of their list.

  1. Augusta, Georgia
  2. Fontana, California
  3. Jackson, Mississippi
  4. Moreno Valley, California
  5. Mobile, Alabama
  6. Montgomery, Alabama
  7. West Valley City, Utah
  8. Nampa, Idaho
  9. Shreveport, Louisiana
  10. Pearl City, Hawaii

Personally, I find the data regarding restaurants per capita and the FSR to fast-food ratio the most useful.

To review this report in its entirety, including Wallethub’s methodology, please click here.

Image: Mick Haupt on Unsplash

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US Restaurant Employment Still Short

US Restaurant Employment Creeping Toward February 2020 Levels

by David Klemt

Restaurant door handle that says "push"

Keep pushing. We have work to do to reach February 2020 employment levels.

After what appeared to be a strong September 2023, restaurants and bars saw a decline of 7,500 jobs in the month of October.

In fact, the strong numbers from September were notably weaker once revised. After revisions, eating and drinking businesses added 48,300 jobs, not the nearly 61,000 from preliminary reports.

Importantly, a correction in employment numbers for August 2023 has revealed further declines. Initially, reports stated that restaurants had added 14,400 jobs. Unfortunately, the corrected number showed that restaurants shed 9,300 positions.

However, context is important. Notably, the unemployment rate in the US has remained under four percent for nearly 24 months. As of the latest reporting by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment is at 3.9 percent.

Numbers by Restaurant Category

The data in this subsection comes from the National Restaurant Association. As the NRA notes, this information is based on data from September 2023.

These numbers should provide further context for restaurant and bar’s current situation. Some restaurant categories are struggling more than others to reach or surpass pre-pandemic levels of employment.

Below, employments numbers for September 2023 in comparison to February 2020.

  • Full-service: -214,000 jobs
  • Quick-service and Fast Casual: +128,000 jobs
  • Bars and Taverns: +50,000 jobs
  • Cafeterias and Buffets: -36,600 jobs
  • Catering and Mobile Food Service: +14,900
  • Snack and Non-alcohol Beverage Bars: +107,000 jobs
  • Foodservice Contractors: +15,100 jobs

As you can see, full-service restaurants are struggling the most to reach pre-pandemic employment numbers. However, QSRs and bars have surpassed that milestone.

By the Numbers

Below, the change in employment in each state and Washington, DC. The time period the data span runs from September 2019 to September 2023*.

  • Alabama: -5,700 (-3.4%)
  • Alaska: +100 (+0.4%)
  • Arizona: +18,200 (+7.6%)
  • Arkansas: +7,900 (+8.1%)
  • California: +32,700 (+2.2%)
  • Colorado: +9,100 (+3.8%)
  • Connecticut: -1,200 (-1.0%)
  • Delaware: +2,500 (+6.4%)
  • District of Columbia: -2,500 (-4.5%)
  • Florida: +35,200 (+4.4%)
  • Georgia: +21,800 (+5.5%)
  • Hawaii: -4,900 (-6.9%)
  • Idaho: +7,000 (+11.5%)
  • Illinois: -11,000 (-2.3%)
  • Indiana: +7,900 (+3.2%)
  • Iowa: -200 (-0.2%)
  • Kansas: +4,800 (+4.7%)
  • Kentucky: -400 (-0.2%)
  • Louisiana: -9,000 (-5.2%)
  • Maine: -4,000 (-7.9%)
  • Maryland: -16,700 (-8.0%)
  • Massachusetts: -15,600 (-5.6%)
  • Michigan: -21,400 (-6.3%)
  • Minnesota: -9,000 (-5.2%)
  • Mississippi: -1,700 (-1.7%)
  • Missouri: -3,500 (-1.5%)
  • Montana: +4,500 (+10.7%)
  • Nebraska: +600 (+0.8%)
  • Nevada: +22,300 (+16.7%)
  • New Hampshire: -1,500 (-2.9%)
  • New Jersey: +7,400 (+2.7%)
  • New Mexico: +3,100 (+4.2%)
  • New York: -10,000 (-1.4%)
  • North Carolina: +12,900 (+3.3%)
  • North Dakota: -100 (-0.3%)
  • Ohio: -6,300 (-1.4%)
  • Oklahoma: +3,600 (+2.5%)
  • Oregon: -2,000 (-1.2%)
  • Pennsylvania: -5,600 (-1.3%)
  • Rhode Island: -2,000 (-4.3%)
  • South Carolina: +1,000 (+0.5%)
  • South Dakota: +3,100 (+9.4%)
  • Tennessee: +8,000 (+3.0%)
  • Texas: +74,200 (+6.6%)
  • Utah: +12,900 (+12.0%)
  • Vermont: -1,000 (-4.7%)
  • Virginia: -100 (-0.0%)
  • Washington: +3,900 (+1.5%)
  • West Virginia: -2,600 (-4.6%)
  • Wisconsin: -8,100 (-3.8%)
  • Wyoming: -100 (-0.5%)

Ups and Downs

First, the less-positive news: restaurant employment is below pre-pandemic levels in more than half of the country. Including Washington, DC, 27 states are still lagging behind September 2019.

However, in some cases the change is negligible.

For example, Wyoming is down just 0.5 percent, and Virginia is down just 100 jobs or 0.00033 percent. Of the 27 states seeing declines, 20 are down less than five percent in comparison to September 2019.

Of course, it’s important to note that Hawaii, Michigan, and Massachusetts are down more than five percent.

So, to the good news. Two dozen states are enjoying restaurant and bar employment above September 2019 levels.

Four states are up more than ten percent. Nevada is leading the way, up 16.7 percent. Next is Utah, up 12 percent. Following in third is Idaho, up 11.5 percent.

Takeaways

Restaurant employment’s pre-pandemic peak was in February 2020. As of the most-current data, we’re down 14,000 jobs.

According to the most recent data, restaurants and bars employ 12.32 million people in the US. While we have yet to reach the 12.34 million that were employed in February 2020, we’re not far off. We still have reason to be positive about recovery.

The larger threat looming over operators is rising costs. Additionally, depending on the source, a recession is either a possible or current threat.

Of course, there’s still increasing demand from consumers to gather at restaurants and bars. So, again, there’s reason to remain positive.

This is all to say that numbers without deeper understanding and nuance only provide surface context. They can make us panic or breathe a sigh of relief, seemingly at the drop of a hat. We can either worry that we haven’t reached the pre-pandemic milestone, be positive that we’ll reach that number in the near future, or decide that perhaps that metric shouldn’t be the primary one by which we measure recovery.

In short, operators positioning themselves for long-term success understand their market, their teams, and their guests; focus on staff and guest retention; develop community engagement and support; and have strategic clarity.

*Sources: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Restaurant Association

Image: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Bar Nightclub Pub Brewery Winery Staff Talent Consulting

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