As stated by its name, bar-side dining means eating at a restaurant’s bar rather than at one of a restaurant’s tables. It is something that has become more and more popular in recent times for a number of reasons, which range from an increased focus on food to an increased preference for more communal forms of dining. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that its impact on restaurants is convincing said businesses to change how they serve their customers.
How Is Bar-Side Dining Affecting Restaurants?
To be more exact, a recent survey conducted by the restaurant booking service OpenTable has revealed that an astonishing 55 percent of restaurant customers are choosing to visit restaurants for their bar menus rather than other reasons. Although this can seem a bit unbelievable to those who are not involved in the restaurant business, it is a conclusion supported by the other statistics revealed through the same survey, with examples including but not limited to 81 percent of restaurant customers liking to eat at the bar and 61 percent of restaurant customers being more willing to visit a particular restaurant when it had a pleasant-seeming bar.
Summed up, this means that bars are having an enormous impact on the profitability of restaurants. In short, restaurants with pleasant-seeming bars are making more revenue by bringing in more customers, whereas restaurants with no such thing are suffering because of their lack. Since restaurants are like other businesses in that their chief purpose is to earn a profit, this has prompted a sweeping wave of changes, which is something else that has been acknowledged in the statistics revealed by the survey.
How Are Restaurants Responding?
Here are some examples of restaurants are responding to the rise of bar-side dining:
1. Unsurprisingly, more and more restaurants are using their resources to increase their chances of capturing bar-side diners. According to OpenTable’s survey, 65 percent of restaurants are either in the middle of investing in their bars or plan to invest in their bars within the next 12 months, which more than anything else, reveal the extent of this sea change in how restaurants customers like to eat. This is something that is supported by how 19 percent of restaurants without bars are giving some serious thoughts to installing one. Assuming that these investments are successful, they should improve the restaurants’ chances of appealing to bar-side diners.
2. On a related note, better bars mean not just more restaurant customers but also more chances to earn revenues from restaurant customers because 68 percent of restaurant customers have stated a willingness to spend their entire evening in the restaurant so long as it had a pleasant-seeming bar. This is critically important because restaurants have a much easier time selling their products and services to said individuals because they have already been convinced to eat off of their menu, meaning that there is a much lower ratio of expenses relative to revenues for each such sale. Better still, a particularly pleasant experience can even bringing the bar-side diners back again and again on future occasions, which has similar benefits because repeat restaurant customers are much easier to market towards than their one-time counterparts.
3. Investing in a bar isn’t just useful for bringing in more restaurant customers but also for providing a strong focus to restaurant marketing, which is supported by how 49 percent of restaurants have stated their intentions to stress bar-side dining in their upcoming marketing materials. This serves to inform interested individuals about a restaurant’s ability to accommodate their bar-side dining, but at the same time, it provides a strong focus that can be used to break through the barrier of apathy that has been built up in response to the sheer amount of marketing materials with which most restaurant customers have been bombarded throughout their lives.
4. With that said, an excellent location is meaningless with the excellent menu to complete it, which is no less true for bars than for the rest of the restaurant. As a result, more and more restaurants are also pouring their resources into their bar menus, thus improving their bar food while also increasing the selection of bar food that is available to bar-side diners. Some restaurants are even making bigger commitments by experimenting with their bar menus to come up with something that can be found nowhere else, which should prove important selling points in a period of increasing competition.
5. More and more restaurants are changing their layouts in order to sell their bar experience. For example, bars tend to bring bar-side diners not just closer to each other but also to the staff of the restaurant. Some restaurants have responded by creating open kitchens, which are useful for maintaining the interest of restaurant customers by providing a much-needed source of visual interest while also creating an always useful sense of honesty and transparency by letting them see what is been done with their food.
6. Some of the changes have been less obvious. For example, while most people don’t give it much thought, lighting is one of the most important interior design choices for not just restaurants but also all businesses and all homes. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that restaurants have had to change the lighting for their bars to emphasize their new roles in bringing in new customers. First, the lighting over the bar has been made less intense in order to make bar-side diners more comfortable instead of making them feel as though they were under a spotlight for the viewing pleasure of other restaurant customers. Second, the lighting over the verticals behind the bar remain as strong as ever, thus enabling the bar to stand out as the center of attention without alienating the bar-side diners in the process. Some restaurants are also experimenting with other lighting choices, as shown by the example of those choosing to use pendant lighting suspended over the scene in order to create a more intimate mood that is well-suited to the closer confines of the bar.
As more and more time passes, expect more and more restaurants to respond to the rise of bar-side dining. Some of their responses will succeed and be taken up by others, while other responses will fail and be rejected, meaning that they should become better at accommodating bar-side dining as a whole step by step.