LSR diners 'want adult beverages'

January 27 2014

There is a growing level of demand for adult beverages to be served at Canada's limited-service restaurants (LSRs).

This is according to research by Technomic, which has revealed around 25 per cent of people would be more willing to visit an LSR venue if it served alcoholic drinks. Only eight per cent of diners claimed they would be deterred from eating at a restaurant if it had adult beverages on the menu.

Darren Tristano, Technomic executive vice-president, said catering to this demand could provide several benefits for LSR operators. For example, he pointed to research from the US that revealed consumers are more likely to enjoy a restaurant visit if they consume an alcoholic drink, while 42 per cent of Americans that purchased an adult beverage are likely to return to a venue - compared to 39 per cent of those who did not.

However, he also claimed serving alcohol can present challenges for restaurants.

"Operators need to make sure there are enough legal-drinking-age staff members on hand at any given time, for example, to be able to check guest IDs and ring up adult-beverage purchases at the counter. And then there are licensing issues and the need for staff training on responsible serving," the restaurant industry expert stated.

Mr Tristano claimed a large adult beverages menu is not necessary for operators to experience the benefits of serving these products. 

"A smaller, more impactful menu can cut costs while elevating the status of the selections that ring the most 'true' to the concept," he stated.

This concurs with recent research from Technomic that found many restaurants in Canada are reducing the size of their menus and focusing on offering quality ahead of quantity.

The organization revealed beer is the adult beverage Canadians are most keen to see on sale at LSRs, with over half of the people willing to order alcohol at such a venue saying this would be their choice. Wine, cocktails and cider are the next most popular.

Meanwhile, 54 per cent of people said they have ordered a beer during the past month, which is up from 43 per cent when the same question was asked in 2012 and provides further evidence of the growing popularity of adult beverages at restaurants.

Looking at Technomic's research, it is clear LSR operators could stand to benefit if they introduce adult beverages to their menus, which could make a significant difference in what it is still a challenging economic climate for the sector. 

The issue of alcoholic drinks at restaurants recently made headlines in British Columbia, with the introduction of a change to licensing laws in the province. Operators in the region are now allowed to serve adult beverages without complicated rules on food consumption and pubs can sell alcohol to people with children for at least part of the day.

This news was welcomed by the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, which described the new regulations are a positive step on the way to modernizing licensing laws in British Columbia.