Statistics

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

4 Takeaways from Resy’s State of Dining

4 Takeaways from Resy’s State of Dining Report

by David Klemt

Guests enjoying an array of dishes at a restaurant

The State of Dining and What’s To Come in 2023 from Resy is an informative report that highlights several key developments to watch this year.

In fact, Resy’s report shines a light on ten trends and predictions for operators to consider. However, I’m going to address the four that stand out the most (to me).

For those who may be unfamiliar with Resy, the company is an online reservation platform. While Resy mostly serves major American cities, it does have a presence in Toronto, Canada, and London, UK.

Most importantly, the platform has a unique view of the industry. Resy looks at the industry through the lens of reservations, meaning they collect data concerning consumer behavior in real time.

So, let’s start with some compelling revelations based on reservation data. To view this report in its entirety, visit Resy via this link.

1. 5:00 PM

According to Resy, one reservation time is standing out from the rest. In comparison to 2019 and 2021, 5:00 PM reservations grew by two percent in 2022.

Now, two percent may seem like insignificant growth. However, given Resy’s reach and the platform’s number of active users, the opposite is true.

A two percent increase equates to hundreds of thousands of reservations.

Now, think about your restaurant or bar and consider your reservation distribution. Do you know which hour sees the most reservations? Not an assumption—do you have the data and therefore know the time?

If not, that’s information you need. Not only is this important for scheduling and controlling costs, it’s the benchmark you need to know if you have any chance of tracking change.

2. The Return of In-person Dining

This is one prediction that multiple industry (and even non-industry) publications are making for 2023. It’s the same for hospitality industry platforms: Companies see 2023 as the year restaurants and bars really come roaring back.

But when Resy makes this prediction, they’re using their reservation data to back it up.

First, last summer represents the single busiest season in the platform’s nine-year history. Second, a specific event, a dinner with chef-operator Massimo Bottura, sold out via Resy in a minute.

Third, October 2022. Why is this month worth pointing out in particular? By October, more Resy users had visited restaurants in 2022 than they had during the entirety of 2021.

Clearly, Resy expects this trend to continue and strengthen in 2023. Given their access to reservation data, this seems like a well-informed prediction.

3. Miami

In December of last year we checked out the best states in America for starting a business. Pennsylvania stood out to us for obvious reasons: our Northeastern office is in Philadelphia, with Kim Richardson at the helm.

Overall, Pennsylvania holds the number four spot on the Forbes list. For comparison, Florida slots in at number 45.

However, Miami appears to be an outlier for restaurant and bar entrepreneurs when it comes to Florida.

Per Resy, the restaurant footprint in Miami grew fourfold from 2017 to 2022. Moreover, Resy is seeing continuous growth in Miami. Going even further, this growth is coming from local and outside operators.

In fact, Resy describes South Florida as “white hot for high-profile sequels.” An operator has a top-tier concept? They’re likely to expand into Miami.

4. TikTok

Last week I addressed Datassential weighing in on photos versus videos. According to the F&B research firm, video is now dominating social media engagement.

And also last week, I explained the importance of discovery functionality. Operators who are considering adding a platform to their tech stack should consider whether it will help people discover their restaurant, bar, or hotel.

Resy is a platform that doesn’t just offer discoverability, it’s a core feature. So, when they say that TikTok appears to be a powerful discovery tool for restaurants and bars, that’s likely true.

Now, a poll Resy cites in their report reveals that traditional word of mouth is the top method of discovery. However, the same poll cites that TikTok is the top discovery platform for 43 percent of Gen Zers. Or, in other words, video, or digital word of mouth.

Should operators jump on TikTok? That’s something only individuals can determine is good for their business.

But if they’re courting Gen Z, well…they may need to add TikTok to their social media toolbox.

KRG Hospitality Success Session, 2023 icon

Image: Meredith Jenks for Resy

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The NRA’s 2023 Culinary Trend Forecast

The National Restaurant Association’s 2023 Culinary Trend Forecast

by David Klemt

Cheesy chicken sandwich on paper wrapper

Ahead of the beginning of a new year, the National Restaurant Association unveils their culinary trend predictions for 2023.

The report is the result of a collaboration between the NRA, Technomic, and the American Culinary Federation (ACF).

For those unfamiliar, Technomic is at the forefront of foodservice trend tracking, industry research, and analysis. Likewise, the ACF is a premier industry organization. Tracing its founding to 1929, the ACF promotes “the professional image of American chefs worldwide through education of culinarians at all levels.”

To predict what will be “hot” next year, the NRA, Technomic, and ACF sent the 17th annual What’s Hot survey to thought leaders and chefs. In direct partnership with the Technomic Menu Research & Insights Division, the NRA predicted the top menu trends from 110 items spanning 11 categories.

Now, this isn’t a full dive into the report in its entirety. Rather, we strongly encourage our readers to download a copy of What’s Hot 2023 Culinary Forecast for themselves and their teams.

What readers will find below are the top 10 trends for 2023. Additionally, we’ll share the top three macro trends for next year, as forecast by the NRA and their partners.

More than Food

Somewhat surprisingly, the NRA’s top-ten list of culinary trends isn’t just a list of food items. Instead, this forecast paints a picture of where restaurants are heading in 2023.

While there are some specific cuisine predictions, the NRA’s top culinary predictions show us, in part, how consumers want to experience the restaurants they visit.

  1. Southeast Asian cuisines (examples: Vietnamese, Singaporean)
  2. Zero waste/Sustainability/Upcycled foods
  3. Globally inspired salads
  4. Sriracha variations
  5. Menu streamlining
  6. Flatbread sandwiches/Healthier wraps
  7. Comfort fare
  8. Charcuterie boards
  9. Fried chicken sandwiches and Chicken sandwiches “3.0” (example: fusion of flavors)
  10. Experiences/Local culture and community

As we can see, operators and consumers expect tighter, more concept-specific menus. Also, comfort foods; shareable (and “Instagrammable”) items like charcuterie boards; and items that show local and global influences may be hot in 2023.

One can consider, then, streamlining their menu to include their top sellers along with local and/or global flavors authentic to their brand.

Below, readers will see that three of the trends above make up the NRA’s top-three 2023 macro trends:

  1. Menu streamlining
  2. Comfort fare
  3. Experiences/Local culture and community

Operator and Consumer Behavioral Shifts

Looking at the macro trends, it’s reasonable to believe the past few years will influence 2023 heavily.

Operators are dealing with inflation, higher costs for everything, labor shortages. Further, according to Datassential, more than a third of American operators are experiencing low traffic and sales levels.

We can expect these issues to follow us into 2023, at least for Q1 and Q2. Therefore, the NRA’s macro trends forecast makes sense. Streamlining menus often leads to streamlining the back and front of house. In turn, doing so can lower costs and boost staff retention.

On the consumer side, it appears comfort foods, chicken sandwiches, and experiences are driving visits and online orders. These are, as we all know, behavioral shifts we can trace back to the start of the pandemic.

We always suggest proceeding with caution, logic, and data when considering embracing trends. Missing out on trends can be just as costly as latching onto a trend too late.

That said, the macro trends certainly seem reasonable. Only time will tell, but the NRA’s 2023 forecast certainly contains several items operators and their teams should give serious consideration.

Image: Arabi Ishaque on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Is There Demand for Non-alcohol?

As the Holidays Approach, is There Demand for Non-alcohol?

by David Klemt

Friends toasting with pink drinks

There’s no denying that non-alcohol is a growing beverage category, but does the data support the hype and operator consideration?

A report by behavioral research firm Veylinx offers compelling insight into non-alcohol and consumers.

By now, there’s really no excuse for failing to give non-alc serious consideration. When planning menus, operators should treat non-alc as much more than an afterthought.

Admitting fully that I’m repeating myself, giving alcohol-free beverages the same attention as their full-proof counterparts is crucial. Doing so is smart business; non-alc is capable of driving traffic and revenue.

And then there’s the guest experience element of the non-alc equation. Hospitality is about service, about ensuring every guest is comfortable. Giving guests who are abstaining from alcohol consumption a different experience than others isn’t hospitality—it’s alienation. Not only is that the antithesis of hospitality, it’s bad business.

Reviewing Veylinx data shows that non-alc is worthy of operators’ time and consideration. In my opinion, it’s even more important that non-alc menus and offerings be dialed in now. After all, the end-of-year holidays on our doorsteps.

The infamous Busiest Bar Night of the Year is nearly here. From November 23 through New Year’s Eve, people will be meeting up with family and friends. Many will also be seeking an escape from the stress of those gathering and the holidays.

Non-alcohol by the Numbers

One of the most important points made by Veylinx is this: Abstinence from alcohol isn’t limited to “social media” events like Dry January and Sober October.

Rather, consumers are choosing to abstain from alcohol throughout the year for myriad reasons. Specifically, Veylinx data reveals that more than 75 percent of Americans have abstained from alcohol consumption at some point for at least one moment.

Further, 46 percent of Americans plan to reduce their consumption of alcohol “right now.” As in, the holidays may be upon us but they’re actively working on a plan to drink less, not more.

Two major factors motivating this behavioral change are mental well-being and physical health. In service of those factors, more than half of LDA drinkers in America plan to replace beverage alcohol with non-alc beverages.

Interestingly, Veylinx finds that these consumers will pay more for non-alc alternatives in comparison to the general population.

Drilling down further, this shift in consumer behavior appears to be driven by a handful of consumer types:

  • 21- to 35-year-old consumers;
  • “light” drinkers; and
  • consumers who have set aside alcohol consumption for one month or more.

Speaking of the first group, demand for RTDs is 48 percent greater in comparison to those aged 35 or older. Add CBD to RTD and the demand among the 21 to 35 cohort grows by 18 percent.

However, not all non-alc growth comes from the 21-to-35 group. Non-alc beverages with mood boosters see an increase in demand from the 35-plus group of 29 percent.

In short, if an operator is ignoring the non-alc consumer, they’re harming their own business and reputation. Alcohol-free RTDs, cocktails, beer, and wine are growing.

Savvy operators will leverage that growth.

Image: Helena Yankovska via Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

These are the Happiest Provinces in Canada

These are the Happiest Provinces in Canada

by David Klemt

Newfoundland and Labrador during daytime

If you’re wondering which province in Canada is the happiest, Statistics Canada has the answer—and the happiest may surprise you.

Of course, those who live and work in the happiest province won’t find it shocking. After all, they’re largely happy to be there.

However, if you expect the happiest province to be the home of Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal or Canada… Well, you’re in for a surprise.

Earlier this week we took a look at the happiest cities and states in America. Congratulations Fremont, California, and Hawaii, respectively. To learn where 181 other cities and 49 states rank, please click here.

The Happiness Survey

Or more accurately, the “life satisfaction” survey. For this survey, that’s what Statistics Canada reveals: life satisfaction.

Interestingly, the survey is very simple. Apparently, Statistics Canada simply asked participants to rate the satisfaction of living in their province, zero through ten. For this survey, zero is least satisfied, ten is most.

Ages 15 through 75 (and older) were able to participate. The survey was also broken down to gauge the satisfaction of men and women.

Before we jump into the breakdown of province satisfaction or happiness, some good news. Reviewing the Statistics Canada data, most participants across all age groups are happy. In fact, age groups 65 to 74 and 75-plus appear to be happiest.

On the other side, ages 15 to 54 had the most people who rated their life satisfaction between zero and five. Even so, just over 20 percent of survey respondents rated their satisfaction a five or less.

So, on the whole, Canadians seem satisfied or happy with their lives, regardless of the province in which they live. Personally, I find that to be great news.

The Happiest Province

Okay, let’s dive into the reason you’re here: to learn which province is the happiest.

  1. Newfoundland and Labrador
  2. Prince Edward Island
  3. Quebec
  4. New Brunswick
  5. Manitoba
  6. Alberta
  7. Saskatchewa
  8. Nova Scotia
  9. Ontario
  10. British Columbia

The above rankings are determined by the percentage of survey respondents who rated their life satisfaction eight, nine or ten. So, if you’re in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island or Quebec, wow—you’re apparently one incredibly happy person.

Conversely, below you’ll find the rankings as determined by the largest percentage of respondents who rated their satisfaction a five or lower. As you’ll find, the list below isn’t simply the inverse of the one above.

  1. Ontario
  2. British Columbia
  3. New Brunswick
  4. Alberta
  5. Nova Scotia
  6. Prince Edward Island
  7. Manitoba
  8. Saskatchewa
  9. Quebec
  10. Newfoundland and Labrador

As far as Canada overall, the results of this particular survey are positive. Just 19.4 percent of survey respondents rated their satisfaction or happiness zero through five. And only 28.9 percent provided a rating of six or seven.

More than half of Canadians, 51.7 percent, rate their lives an eight, nine or ten. That’s some great and welcome news.

Image: Erik Mclean on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Which Cities and States are the Happiest?

Which US Cities and States are the Happiest?

by David Klemt

Yellow smiley face ball

As an entrepreneur and operator evaluating a market for a first location or expansion, it can help to know where people are happiest.

Equally as helpful: Knowing the cities and states that are the least happy. Not, necessarily, so an operator can avoid these markets.

Rather, one’s concept may be a ray of stress-free sunshine for a given community. Providing a great workplace with a positive culture can work wonders for both the happiest and least-happy places. And as the cornerstones of the communities they serve, restaurants and bars can improve their guests’ quality of life.

We’ve looked at the US cities with the greatest inflow and outflow (which can reveal happiness levels), as identified by Redfin. And we’ve checked out the best US retirement cities, researched by Clever.

Now, we’re taking a look at which US cities and states are the happiest and least happy, according to WalletHub. In case you’re unaware, personal finance site WalletHub researches a vast array of topics. You can browse them here.

Happiest Cities

While determining which are happiest, WalletHub identified the happiest 182 cities. Obviously, that’s a far cry from how many cities are in the US.

According to one source, there 19,495 cities, towns, and villages across the country (per data from 2018). Of those, 4,727 cities have populations of 5,000 or more. A total of 310 cities have populations of at least 100,000, and only ten are home to one million people or more.

So, living in any of the 182 cities WalletHub suggests one is pretty happy. However, these are the ten happiest cities, in descending order:

  1. Fremont, California
  2. Columbia, Maryland
  3. San Francisco, California
  4. San Jose, California
  5. Irvine, California
  6. Madison, Wisconsin
  7. Seattle, Washington
  8. Overland Park, Kansas
  9. Huntington Beach, California
  10. San Diego, California

As you can see, six of the 10 cities are in California. In fact, 29 of the 182 cities on this list are located in the Golden State.

To create their list, WalletHub analyzed several metrics that make up three main categories: emotional and physical well-being; work environment; and community and environment.

Fremont, CA, is number one for emotional and physical well-being. The top spot for work environment goes to San Francisco, CA. And the number-one city for community and environment is Casper, Wyoming, which is number 79 on the list overall.

Least-happy Cities

Again, understanding that there are more than 19,400 cities, towns, and villages in the US alters the context of this list a bit.

Living and operating in one of these 182 cities indicates a person is living in a happy city. Basically, it isn’t the worst place to live if it’s on this list.

At any rate, let’s look at the 10 cities that make up the bottom of WalletHub’s list. Or, the “least-happy” cities, at least as far as these rankings are concerned.

  1. Detroit, Michigan
  2. Gulfport, Mississippi
  3. Memphis, Tennessee
  4. Huntington, West Virginia
  5. Montgomery, Alabama
  6. Cleveland, Ohio
  7. Augusta, Georgia
  8. Fort Smith, Arizona
  9. Mobile, Alabama
  10. Shreveport, Louisiana

Happiest States

WalletHub also ranked 50 states to determine the happiest and least happy. I checked, and, yep, that’s all of ’em! I will say it’s a bit disappointing they didn’t include Puerto Rico, but it isn’t the 51st state (yet).

WalletHub focused on 30 metrics to rank the states, which make up three main categories: emotional and physical well-being; work environment; and community and environment.

In descending order, the happiest states in America are:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Maryland
  3. Minnesota
  4. Utah
  5. New Jersey
  6. Idaho
  7. California
  8. Illinois
  9. Nebraska
  10. Connecticut

Hawaii doesn’t just take the top spot overall, it also claims number one for emotional and physical well-being. Utah takes first for work environment, and community and environment.

Rounding out the “happiest half” of the US are:

  1. Virginia
  2. South Dakota
  3. North Dakota
  4. Massachusetts
  5. New Hampshire
  6. Iowa
  7. Delaware
  8. Florida
  9. Georgia
  10. North Carolina
  11. Wisconsin
  12. Washington
  13. New York
  14. Maine
  15. Wyoming

Least-happy States

Conversely, the following are the least-happy states, starting with the unhappiest:

  1. West Virginia
  2. Louisiana
  3. Arkansas
  4. Kentucky
  5. Alabama
  6. Mississippi
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Tennessee
  9. New Mexico
  10. Missouri

Filling out the least-happy half of the country are:

  1. Alaska
  2. Michigan
  3. Ohio
  4. Indiana
  5. Texas
  6. Nevada
  7. Vermont
  8. South Carolina
  9. Kansas
  10. Arizona
  11. Colorado
  12. Montana
  13. Rhode Island
  14. Pennsylvania
  15. Oregon

In terms of the three metrics WalletHub analyzed, West Virginia is ranked last for emotional and physical well-being. Unfortunately, Mississippi is last for work environment. And Texas comes in last for community and environment.

Image: chaitanya pillala on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Menus in Canada: Who Wants What Items?

Menus in Canada: Who Wants What Items?

by David Klemt

Bar and restaurant food and drink menus

Nobody has a crystal ball telling them what they should put on their menus to boost traffic and revenue, but we do have data.

In this instance, we have useful data regarding Canadian consumers specifically. Not only do we have helpful information from Restaurants Canada, David Henkes from Technomic has also weighed in. For those who are unfamiliar, Technomic is one of the best foodservice research and consulting firms.

Before we dive into Restaurant Canada’s menu trend information, this is not a review of the top menu item orders in Canada. For a deep dive into that topic in particular, please read our article “F&B in Canada: Top Menu Items.”

Instead, in this article we’re reviewing broader menu categories and interest in them among Canadian consumers. For your own copy of the 2022 Foodservice Facts report, click here.

Word of Warning

Now, it’s important to bear in mind that the data below is a snapshot. It’s important, informative data but it shouldn’t influence your menu completely.

In other words, when considering revising your menu in any way, make sure you’re staying true to your brand and the community you serve. If your data differs from Restaurants Canada and Technomic data, that’s okay.

Not only are there always outliers, not all data applies to every concept. So, don’t take drastic action on your menus based solely on the data below.

For this particular topic, Restaurants Canada asked three age groups about their interest in eight menu categories.

The groups are: 18 to 34, 35 to 54, and 55-plus. The industry advocacy group then reviewed the numbers for those who indicated they’re “very interested” or “somewhat interested” for each category or item.

Who Wants What?

The menu category generating the most interest from Canadian consumers, according to Restaurants Canada data, is food sourced from local farmers. Overall, 93 percent of survey respondents very or somewhat interested. Those in the 55-plus age group are the most interested.

More than 80 percent are interested in comfort foods, or creative riffs on comfort foods. Age groups 18 to 34 and 35 to 54 have the most interest. Precisely 80 percent are interested in trying globally inspired foods and flavors, led by the 18 to 34 age group.

Foods that promote health and wellness come next, with 79 percent of Canadian consumers showing interest. The 55-plus age group is particularly interested. However, dishes that utilize ingredients that boost one’s immune system are only popular among 53 percent of survey respondents. Interestingly, it’s the 18 to 34 age group with the most interest in this category.

In what’s possibly a contrast from American consumers, the final three categories have no more than 41 percent of survey respondents’ interest. Forty-one percent have interest in meatless and vegetarian items. Next, just 38 percent show interest in alcohol-free cocktails. Finally, just 33 percent are interested in plant-based burgers and sausages.

For each of those categories, the greatest interest comes from the 18 to 34 age group, and the 55-plus group shows the least amount of interest.

Recommended Reading

We’ve been reviewing the 2022 Foodservice Facts report from Restaurants Canada in depth for several weeks. To learn more about this important report, please read the following:

Image: Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

F&B in Canada: Top Menu Items

F&B in Canada: Top Menu Items

by David Klemt

Closeup of hands holding burger

Those wondering what food and beverage menu items are performing best among consumers throughout Canada need wonder no more.

And why is that? Well, Restaurants Canada has the answers, revealing the top ten food and top ten beverage items.

Further, the organization compares each item’s performance. In this instance, Restaurants Canada analyses the percentage of orders that contained each food or beverage item from January to April 2022 in comparison to 2019.

These insights (and many more) are available in Restaurants Canada’s 2022 Foodservice Facts report. In fact, you can find our reviews of several of the restaurant advocacy group’s report topics via the links below:

For your own copy of this year’s Foodservice Facts report, click here.

Top 10 Canadian Drink Menu Trends

As you’ll see below, coffee is outperforming nearly every other beverage category. Specifically, Hot coffee is at the top, while Iced or frozen coffee is ranked third.

Unsurprisingly, Carbonated soft drinks / Pop / Soda split the two coffee categories. According to Restaurants Canada, the Carbonated soft drink category can credit its performance in large part to QSRs.

  1. Milk: 1.8% (2019) to 1.8% (2022)
  2. Iced tea: 2.9% (2019) to 1.6% (2022)
  3. Milkshakes / Smoothies: 2.1% (2019) to 2.0% (2022)
  4. Fruit juice: 3.8% (2019) to 3.0% (2022)
  5. Hot tea: 5.5% (2019) to 4.5% (2022)
  6. Alcohol beverages: 5.1% (2019) to 5.7% (2022)
  7. Water: 6.6% (2019) to 5.0% (2022)
  8. Iced or frozen coffee: 5.3% (2019) to 7.5% (2022)
  9. Carbonated soft drinks / Pop / Soda: 19.7% (2019) to 20.2% (2022)
  10. Hot coffee: 40.9% (2019) to 41.9% (2022)

Compellingly, Alcohol beverage performance in restaurants fluctuated by age group between 2021 and 2022. Alcohol order shares in restaurants, per Restaurants Canada:

  • Legal drinking Age (LDA) to 34: 46% (2021) to 43% (2022)
  • 35 to 49: 17% (2021) to 21% (2022)
  • 50-plus: 37% (2021) to 36% (2022)

Alcohol order shares in bars, according to Restaurants Canada:

  • LDA to 34: 35% (2021) to 35% (2022)
  • 35 to 49: 17% (2021) to 19% (2022)
  • 50-plus: 49% (2021) to 47% (2022)

Overall, the 35 to 49 age group appears to be consuming less alcohol in bars and restaurants in comparison to the LDA to 34 and 50-plus cohorts.

Top 10 Canadian Food Menu Trends

As Restaurants Canada notes, the Sandwich / Sub category has grown in 2022. Interestingly, the category just below it in growth, Chicken, is partially responsible for boosting Sandwich / Sub performance.

As far as entrees or “main attractions,” the Burger category remains at the top, beating out Breakfast, Sandwich / Sub, Chicken, and Pizza menu items.

  1. Cake / Squares / Muffins: 3.7% (2019) to 3.3% (2022)
  2. Salad: 4.3% (2019) to 3.8% (2022)
  3. Donuts / Beignets: 3.0% (2019) to 3.8% (2022)
  4. Breads: 4.3% (2019) to 3.4% (2022)
  5. Pizza / Panzerotti / Calzone: 4.1% (2019) to 4.3% (2022)
  6. Chicken: 7.6% (2019) to 8.5% (2022)
  7. Sandwich / Sub: 8.0% (2019) to 8.5% (2022)
  8. Breakfast: 10.8% (2019) to 11.4% (2022)
  9. Burger: 9.0% (2019) to 10.9% (2022)
  10. French fries / Potato / Sweet potato / Onion rings: 15.0% (2019) to 16.1% (2022)

Image: Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Your Guests are Likely Ready for More Tech

Your Guests are Likely Ready for More Tech

by David Klemt

 

Raspberry Pi motherboard

After the past few years of innovation and implementation in our industry, guests are probably ready to use even more technology.

Driven in large part by operator adaptation to ever-changing restrictions in 2020 and 2021, guest-facing tech is far more prevalent than ever. This is particularly true in the quick-service restaurant space.

Of course, tech has certainly become a crucial operational component in the full-service space as well. However, operators many FSR operators find themselves walking a fine between tech innovation and providing personalized service.

Restaurants Canada addresses QSR and FSR tech implementation in their 2022 Foodservice Facts report. Click here for your own copy of the report.

QSR vs FSR Implementation

One benefit of updating a given operation’s tech stack is automation. After all, more tasks handled automatically via tech solutions means a reduction in labor costs.

In theory, removing mundane tasks from front-of-house team members should equate to guests receiving more personalized service. Equally as impactful: Many guests would rather have more control over their visit in the names of convenience and speed.

A couple of examples are placing orders and paying via tablet or other table-side device. For some guests, this is more convenient than the traditional method.

As stated above, QSRs have been quick to embrace and implement tech innovations. And according to a Restaurants Canada survey, nearly three-quarters of QSR operators will wade deeper into tech waters within the next two years. Almost half—49 percent—of QSR survey respondents “probably will” increase their usage of technology by April 2024; a quarter “definitely will.”

On the FSR side, operators are a bit more cautious in their approach to their tech stacks. Of these survey respondents, 37 percent will probably adopt more tech within the next two years, while 15 percent say they “definitely will” do so.

Per Restaurants Canada, the three main concerns of operators relating to implementing more tech are:

  • cost;
  • guest acceptance; and
  • people being able to relate to the equipment (which to me seems directly tied to guest acceptance).

However, FSR operators have also indicated another concern: the perception from guests that tech innovations are leading to a loss of personalized service. So, individual operators must decide not just what tech solutions to embrace but how they may impact the guest experience in negative ways.

Guest Expectations

When Restaurants Canada looked into tech in the restaurant space, they didn’t just focus on operators. The restaurant industry advocacy organization also surveyed consumers.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the 18 to 34 age group appears to be the most eager to embrace new tech in restaurants. However, they’re not that far ahead of the 35 to 54 group. Interestingly, the 55-plus demographic is less tech-resistant in at least one area than one may assume.

Let’s take a look at Restaurant Canada’s survey results, broken down by tech solution.

  • Order and pay via tablet at FSR: 18 to 34 (55%), 35 to 54 (54%), 55+ (41%)
  • Place an order for food that’s prepared by automated method, either robots or other systems: 18 to 34 (27%), 35 to 54 (17%), 55+ (11%)
  • Order food that’s delivered on-premises by an automated system or a robot: 18 to 34 (32%), 35 to 54 (28%), 55+ (18%)
  • Place an order through a ghost or virtual kitchen: 18 to 34 (34%), 35 to 54 (26%), 55+ (13%)
  • Order food that’s then delivered off-premises via robot or self-driving car: 18 to 34 (36%), 35 to 54 (29%), 55+ (19%)

Considerations

Looking at the above data, most guests are already comfortable placing orders and paying through a tablet. Interestingly, the age group people think of as most tech-averse seem to be open to the idea of robots preparing and delivering their orders.

The keys to implementing tech solutions are deceptively simple: initial costs, subscription costs, maintenance fees, ease of use by staff, and ease of use by guests.

With inflation driving costs up, operators are likely most concerned with what it will cost to add to or upgrade their tech stacks. However, there may be a significant reduction in labor costs that justifies the initial costs. Additionally, some solutions can be leased rather than purchased up front.

But the comfort levels of guests must also receive careful consideration. If a solution is going to alienate or drive away a significant portion of guests, it’s likely not worth the time and cost of implementing it.

Your guests likely want more tech in your restaurant, but it has to be the right tech. Solutions need to deliver convenience and speed without failing to deliver on hospitality.

Image: Harrison Broadbent on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Numbers on Food Delivery in Canada

The Numbers on Food Delivery in Canada

by David Klemt

Burger in container inside car

For most restaurants, delivery is now a crucial service element rather than a “nice-to-have” option a small percentage of guests expect.

This is true whether your restaurant is in the US or Canada. But who’s placing orders? How are they ordering? And will they continue to order for the foreseeable future?

Well, Restaurants Canada has answers to all those questions and more. So, we let’s take a look at what their 2022 Foodservice Facts report says about delivery.

To download your own copy of this informative report, click here.

Who’s Placing Orders?

In their 2022 Foodservice Facts report, Restaurants Canada looks at three age groups:

  • 18 to 34
  • 35 to 54
  • 55-plus

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the 18- to 34-year-old cohort leads the charge when it comes to ordering delivery. It’s also not surprising that 35 to 54 comes in second, and 55 and older is third.

However, the first two groups are closer than some may assume. Eighty-three percent of the the 18 to 34 cohort placed orders at quick-service or full-service restaurants between December 2021 and May 2022.

That number does drop for the same time period among the 35 to 54 group, but not by a significant amount. Of that cohort, 77 percent ordered delivery. Just over half of the 55-plus group placed delivery orders: 52 percent.

Now, those numbers are down a bit from 2021, which makes sense. Things were much more restrictive in 2021 and people were just getting back to a sense of normalcy at the start of this year.

In 2021, the delivery order percentages were:

  • 18 to 34: 89 percent
  • 35 to 54: 81 percent
  • 55-plus: 67 percent

Looking at these numbers, it appears the 55-plus cohort is more comfortable dining out in person. Conversely, the 18 to 34 age group is clearly comfortable making delivery a part of their everyday lives.

How do People Want to Order?

Believe it or not, your website still matters. I’ve been saying this for years but the pervasiveness of delivery and takeout ordering is really driving this point home.

The fact is, a notable percentage of your guests want to support your restaurant and staff directly. Over the past couple of years, consumers have become well aware that third-party delivery services are incredibly costly for operators.

Consumers are also aware of third-party delivery debacles, such as the abysmal Grubhub “Free Lunch” mess from May of this year.

So, direct delivery is something that operators need to at least consider. Implementation is often less difficult than most business owners believe. And many platforms, SevenRooms, for example, make implementing direct delivery simple and affordable.

Interestingly, Restaurants Canada data supports the need for direct delivery. Back in May, the industry advocacy organization asked survey respondents how they prefer to place delivery orders from restaurants.

Preferences for QSR customers:

  • No preference: 10 percent
  • Over the phone: 19 percent
  • Third party: 35 percent
  • Restaurant website or app: 36 percent

Full-service customer preferences:

  • No preference: 8 percent
  • Over the phone: 28 percent
  • Third party: 29 percent
  • Restaurant website or app: 35 percent

Honestly, I find it surprising anyone calls a QSR to place an order. However, I suppose that makes sense for an office or catering.

At any rate, make sure your website is up-to-date, you offer direct or “last-mile” delivery, and make it easy to navigate your menu and the ordering process.

Is Ordering Here to Stay?

Now, we all know why restaurant delivery has been supercharged the past two years. However, consumer trend data show that delivery was on the rise before the Covid-19 pandemic.

But now that people are eager to return to normal and the industry is on its way to returning to pre-pandemic levels, is delivery really here to stay?

According to another question asked of survey respondents by Restaurants Canada, more than half of QSR and full-service restaurant customers plan to stick with delivery.

For their 2022 Foodservice Facts report, Restaurants Canada asked back in May how often consumers planned to place delivery orders in the next six months.

Order frequency for QSR customers:

  • Never placed a delivery order and don’t plan to now: 29 percent
  • Order less often: 20 percent
  • Will order with the same frequency: 45 percent
  • Will order more often: 7 percent

Frequency of orders for full-service customers:

  • Never placed a delivery order: 24 percent
  • Order less often: 23 percent
  • Will order with the same frequency: 44 percent
  • Will order more often: 9 percent

Here to Stay?

Of course, there are multiple factors feeding the numbers above. Some people simply don’t like ordering and waiting for delivery. For these consumers, the practice doesn’t just seem convenient.

There’s also the consumer demand to return to in-person dining, socializing with family and friends. And, of course, meeting new people while dining out.

We must also consider inflation and rising costs. Often, restaurant spending is among the first to be reduced when consumers need to be more frugal. Rising menu costs are sure to curtail some delivery spending.

That said, it’s clear delivery is here to stay and must be considered a crucial element for most restaurant operations. QSR and full-service operators need to bear in mind is placing orders; how often they’re placing orders; and get them in the habit of placing orders directly.

Image: Oliur on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Restaurants Canada Reveals Pandemic Impact

Two Years On, Restaurants Canada Reveals Pandemic Impact

by David Klemt

Canon accounting calculator

Restaurants Canada looks at the impact of the pandemic on the foodservice industry in their latest Foodservice Facts report.

Canada’s foodservice industry research and advocacy non-profit sees a return to pre-pandemic operations. However, the path forward toward pre-pandemic traffic and sales levels won’t be without its challenges.

“While nominal sales are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels before the end of the year, traffic still remains below what it was before,” says Restaurants Canada president and CEO Christian Buhagiar.

To access your own copy of 2022 Foodservice Facts, click here.

Industry Still Struggling

As an owner, operator, or foodservice professional, you probably have the answer to a specific question in mind.

When will we be “back to normal?” And, of course, the natural followup to that question. Will the industry surpass 2019 traffic and sales?

Restaurants and bars throughout Canada have survived six waves of Covid-19 over the course of two-plus years. There have been an inordinate amount of lockdowns that inarguably forced the permanent closure of far too many businesses.

As Restaurants Canada states (and the rest of us know all too well), there’s no telling if another Covid-19 variant will rear its ugly head. It’s conceivable (but with any luck unlikely) that Canada could face future lockdowns.

At the moment, according to Restaurants Canada, foodservice sales are currently 11 percent below 2019 levels. And yes, that’s after adjustment for inflation. Speaking of which, one reason traffic and sales remain below those of 2019 is consumer confidence. Many Canadians are concerned about a possible recession.

In addition, operators in Canada continue to face a labor shortage.

News Not All Bad

Now, anyone who read the previous section would be justified in lacking confidence in the industry. However, there is good news.

First, let’s compare Q1 of 2022 to Q2. Per Restaurants Canada, just 15 percent of restaurants were able to seat guests with zero restrictions. By April, though, approximately 90 percent of restaurants in Canada could serve in-person guests restriction-free.

Second, Q2 had more positivity in store for operators. According to Restaurants Canada, the FSR segment endured an 18-month decline in traffic when Covid-19 took hold. When restrictions were lifted, the floodgates of consumer demand burst. By Q2, traffic was a mere one percent lower in comparison to 2019.

Going a bit granular, QSR performance also improved in Q2. Per Restaurants Canada, QSR traffic lagged eight percent behind pre-pandemic levels. However, that number improved to just two percent under pre-pandemic levels by Q2.

Compellingly, Q2 still wasn’t done with foodservice industry positivity. While QSRs outpaced FSRs three-fold in terms of traffic, their numbers combined bring the industry back to 2019 Q2 levels.

Restaurant Canada’s positive outlook predicts that the industry will return to pre-pandemic levels by Q4.

Image: StellrWeb on Unsplash

Top