Is it time to bet on the allure of the bar?

A recent State of On-Premise webinar from Technomic highlighted how restaurants are refining their operations at the bar to boost traffic and sales as part of their pandemic recovery.

In many areas, both casual dining and full-service restaurants are seeing a slow return to high volumes, and Techonomic explained how some operators are concentrating on capturing guests at the bar rather than just in the dining room or through takeout channels.

That can range from full-service restaurants creating bar-centric layouts and expanding and upgrading drink lists to fast casuals are adding alcohol service for the first time, said Technomic Principals David Henkes and Donna Hood Crecca.

There’s an opportunity for casual and fine-dining restaurants to recapture ownership of the “third place,” said Hood-Crecca. By that, he means adding the bar as a social gathering spot as well as the home and the return to the workplace. By capitalizing on people’s desire to get out of the house and back to their pre-pandemic social lives — which, of course, always revolved largely around eating and drinking — restaurants can maximize their profitability.

That doesn’t have to happen just via food. Rolling out a new or improved cocktail menu from brunch through to after-dinner service, installing new bar areas, and concentrating on your beer and wine selection can go a long way.

That innovation can capitalize on what Technomic’s experts cited as predicted growth in the sale of aloholic beverages this year. On-premise wine and spirits are expected to increase 16 per cent, just ahead of beer at 15 per cent.

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