Alcohol a Missed Opportunity at Many Fast-Casual Restaurants

Source: Restaurant News

Fast casual appears to be the darling of the industry, as American consumers seek higher-quality food than quick service and a faster pace than casual dining. But for the most part, they aren’t drinking at fast-casual restaurants.

Alcohol a Missed Opportunity at Many Fast-Casual Restaurants

Although many fast-casual chains sell beer, wine and even cocktails, sales of those potentially profitable items range from sluggish to nonexistent. Even perennial success story Chipotle says beverage alcohol accounts for about 2 percent of sales.

Some fast-casual chains have boosted alcohol sales by making it a priority. Others have used alcohol less as a profit center and more as an amenity to drive traffic.

One roadblock is that most fast-casual restaurants don’t integrate selling alcohol into their culture, said Richard Keys, managing partner of Food and Drink Resources, a foodservice consulting firm in Centennial, Colo.

“They put it on the shelf and no one does training,” Keys said.

Additionally, since fast-casual employees aren’t tipped, they have no incentive to upsell. Many are also younger than 21 years old, so they can’t serve alcohol in the first place.

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