June 19, 2021

Lalasgrill Online

Online food menu

The Food and Menu Trends of COVID-19, and Why They Might Rejuvenate Casual Dining

The Food and Menu Trends of COVID-19, and Why They Might Rejuvenate Casual Dining

Menu wins to be had

Bundling has become good pandemic business. Fifty percent of fine-dining operators polled by the Association and more than four in 10 family dining and casual dining ones, said their restaurant added family or bundles meals during COVID.

Looking forward, 30 percent of off-premises customers said they’d be more likely to choose a restaurant that offers meal bundles during the next few months.

Percentage of operators who say their restaurant added family or bundles meals since the beginning of COVID

  • Family dining: 45 percent
  • Casual dining: 43 percent
  • Fine dining: 50 percent
  • Quick service: 28 percent
  • Fast casual: 35 percent
  • Coffee and snack: 14 percent

What this signals is sit-down operators can close some of the value gap, compared to quick service, with bundled meals.

Percentage of customers who say they’re more likely to choose a restaurant that offers multi-course meal bundles, such as an appetizer, entrée, and dessert

  • All adults: 30 percent
  • Gen Z: 34 percent
  • Millennials: 27 percent
  • Gen X: 30 percent
  • Baby Boomers: 31 percent

Perhaps the COVID sister menu to bundles of late was meal kits. It’s an effort to take away some of the meal prep duties, but also still let guests control the experience. Additionally, some people perceive cooking food as safer than buying cooked food.

More than half of adults said they’d likely purchase a meal kit if it was offered by one of their favorite restaurants. The number rises to 75 percent for millennials and Gen Z (generations that value experience over material wealth).

Kits package pre-measured ingredients and instructions to make the restaurant meal at home.

Twenty-three percent of fine-dining operators and 20 percent of family dining and casual dining said their restaurant added meal kits post-outbreak.

Percentage of operators who say their restaurant added meal kits since the beginning of COVID

  • Family dining: 20 percent
  • Casual dining: 20 percent
  • Fine dining: 23 percent
  • Quick service: 12 percent
  • Fast casual: 15 percent
  • Coffee and snack: 14 percent

Younger consumers, to the earlier point, like DIY restaurant meals most.

Percentage of consumers who say they’d be likely to buy a meal kit if it was offered by one of their favorite restaurants

  • All adults: 56 percent
  • Gen Z: 75 percent
  • Millennials: 75 percent
  • Gen X: 56 percent
  • Baby Boomers: 38 percent

Another opportunity has come via meal subscription programs. Customers sign up to receive a set number of meals each month, for pickup or delivery, at a discounted meal price. This idea is nothing new. But the role restaurants can play is novel—only 1 percent of family dining, quick-service, casual dining, and coffee and snack; 2 percent of dine dining; and 3 percent of fast casual operators added them of late.

Still, the Association said it’s an attractive option. More than half of consumers surveyed said they’d likely participate in a meal subscription program if it was offered by one of their favorite restaurants. For millennials and Gen Z, it was roughly seven in 10.

Percentage of consumers who say they would be likely to participate in a meal subscription program if it was offered by one of their favorite restaurants

  • All adults: 55 percent
  • Gen Z: 67 percent
  • Millennials: 71 percent
  • Gen X: 60 percent
  • Baby Boomers: 36 percent

Remember those early days when restaurants began offering groceries? That was more of a survival tactic than a strategic one out of the gate. Brands had too much inventory. They also recognized customers wanted to cut down on grocery trips.

However, it’s holding value. More than half of consumers—and nearly 70 percent of millennials—said they’d buy groceries (things like meat, produce, dairy, bread or pasta) if restaurants offered them.

Some complied. Fourteen percent of fine dining and fast casual operators said their restaurant started selling grocery goods. Roughly one in 10 did so for casual dining, family dining, and coffee and snack.

Percentage of operators who say their restaurant started offering grocery items for sale since the beginning of the outbreak in March

  • Family dining: 11 percent
  • Casual dining: 12 percent
  • Fine dining: 14 percent
  • Quick service: 7 percent
  • Fast casual: 14 percent
  • Coffee and snack: 11 percent

Percentage of consumers who say they’d be likely to purchase fresh, uncooked food items such as meat, produce, dairy, bread or pasta, if they were offered by one of their favorite restaurants

  • All adults: 52 percent
  • Gen Z: 61 percent
  • Millennials: 69 percent
  • Gen X: 54 percent
  • Baby Boomers: 35 percent

The alcohol possibility

Restaurants took advantage as more jurisdictions allowed them to toss to-go drinks into off-premises orders. Roughly seven in 10 full-service operators that offer alcoholic beverages said they started selling them with takeout or delivery since March. It was more than half with limited-service operators.

Alcohol to-go might be one of those pandemic-accelerate trends here to stay, the Association said.

Thirty-five percent of-premises guests (53 percent of millennials) said they’d be more likely to choose a restaurant if they could get an adult beverage with their food order.

And this might just favorite sit-down concepts in the broad scheme of things. It’s something they can offer a lot of quick-serves cannot.

Percentage of operators who say their restaurant serves alcoholic beverages

  • Family dining: 79 percent
  • Casual dining: 93 percent
  • Fine dining: 98 percent
  • Quick service: 24 percent
  • Fast casual: 52 percent
  • Coffee and snack: 24 percent

It’s picking up industrywide.

Percentage of operators who say their restaurant started offering alcoholic beverages for takeout or delivery since the beginning of the outbreak in March

  • Family dining: 68 percent
  • Casual dining: 72 percent
  • Fine dining: 73 percent
  • Quick service: 53 percent
  • Fast casual: 52 percent
  • Coffee and snack: 44 percent

Which groups are ordering?

Percentage of off-premises customers who say they included an alcoholic beverage with a takeout or delivery order from a restaurant since the beginning of the outbreak in March

All customers

  • With a takeout order: 20 percent
  • With a delivery order: 18 percent

Millennials

  • With a takeout order: 33 percent
  • With a delivery order: 28 percent

Gen X

  • With a takeout order: 20 percent
  • With a delivery order: 22 percent

Baby Boomers

  • With a takeout order: 9 percent
  • With a delivery order: 1 percent

Percentage of off-premises customers who say they’re more likely to choose a restaurant if it offers the option of including alcoholic beverages with the to-go order

  • All: 35 percent
  • Millennials: 53 percent
  • Gen X: 39 percent
  • Baby Boomers: 13 percent

The comfort food effect

Nearly a third of fine-dining operators, and one in five family and casual dining operators, said they added comfort items to menus.

Why? Thirty-eight percent of on-premises and 33 percent of off-premises guest said their restaurant choices over the next few months will be influenced by whether the menus include the comfort foods they crave. There’s some insecurity in discover lingering.

Percentage of operators who say their restaurant added comfort food to the menu since the beginning of the outbreak in March

  • Family dining: 18 percent
  • Casual dining: 20 percent
  • Fine dining: 31 percent
  • Quick service: 10 percent
  • Fast casual: 13 percent
  • Coffee and snack: 15 percent

Percentage of customers who say the availability of comfort food on the menu would make them more likely to choose one restaurant over another during the next few months

All customers

  • Customers that plan to eat on-premises: 38 percent
  • Customers that plan to order takeout/delivery: 33 percent

Gen Z

  • Customers that plan to eat on-premises: 38 percent
  • Customers that plan to order takeout/delivery: 38 percent

Millennials

  • Customers that plan to eat on-premises: 36 percent
  • Customers that plan to order takeout/delivery: 32 percent

Gen X

  • Customers that plan to eat on-premises: 38 percent
  • Customers that plan to order takeout/delivery: 27 percent

Baby Boomers

  • Customers that plan to eat on-premises: 42 percent
  • Customers that plan to order takeout/delivery: 38 percent

Yet this isn’t to say healthful options don’t matter. Customers want to get back on their diet routines. It just isn’t as important today as comfort. Could that change, however?

Fewer than one in seven customers said the availability of diet-specific food would impact their restaurant choice for either on- or off-premises dining.

Percentage of customers who say the availability of healthy options on the menu would make them more likely to choose one restaurant over another during the next few months

All

  • Customers that plan to eat on-premises: 38 percent
  • Customers that plan to order takeout/delivery: 33 percent

Gen Z

  • Customers that plan to eat on-premises: 36 percent
  • Customers that plan to order takeout/delivery: 34 percent

Millennials

  • Customers that plan to eat on-premises: 36 percent
  • Customers that plan to order takeout/delivery: 29 percent

Gen X

  • Customers that plan to eat on-premises: 30 percent
  • Customers that plan to order takeout/delivery: 31 percent

Baby Boomers

  • Customers that plan to eat on-premises: 45 percent
  • Customers that plan to order takeout/delivery: 39 percent

Percentage of customers who say the availability of diet-specific food on the menu, like vegetarian or gluten-free, would make them more likely to choose one restaurant over another during the next few months

All

  • Customers that plan to eat on-premises: 14 percent
  • Customers that plan to order takeout/delivery: 12 percent

Gen Z

  • Customers that plan to eat on-premises: 12 percent
  • Customers that plan to order takeout/delivery: 14 percent

Millennials

  • Customers that plan to eat on-premises: 18 percent
  • Customers that plan to order takeout/delivery: 12 percent

Gen X

  • Customers that plan to eat on-premises: 16 percent
  • Customers that plan to order takeout/delivery: 10 percent

Baby Boomers

  • Customers that plan to eat on-premises: 11 percent
  • Customers that plan to order takeout/delivery: 12 percent