Last month OpenTable kicked off 2016 with a new initiative: our Insider Survey Series, a monthly poll of our restaurant customers about the hottest topics in the industry. As proud partners of the best in the business, we wanted to learn more about the challenges our restaurants face.
We are excited to share the results of our first survey, all about bar dining (it certainly made us thirsty!) Read on for key learnings and takeaways.
WHAT IS YOUR SERVICE STYLE?
First things first: More than 420 restaurant partners responded to the survey, but who were they? Most come from fine-dining concepts in a casual environment (62%), followed by full-service casual (31%) and formal restaurants (12%). Only 1% were from limited-service casual concepts.
DO YOU HAVE EXISTING BAR SEATING?
Bars are abundant! 94% of respondents said they currently have a bar in their restaurant(s), and another 3% say they’re hoping to add one. Only 4% have no plans to add a bar area.
DO YOU ACCEPT RESERVATIONS IN THE BAR?
If you think bars are only for walk-ins, think again. Almost half of those surveyed (48%) either currently accept reservations in their bars (36%) or are interested in doing so (12%). 52% say their bars are no-reservations zones – and will continue to be.
WHY HAVE A BAR AREA?
Why have a bar area in the first place? We asked respondents to rank the importance of each of these reasons and found that driving additional revenue was the primary incentive. Offering a unique experience from the dining room and hosting guests as they waited for a table followed closely behind.
WHAT’S ON THE MENU IN THE BAR?
To learn more about the guest experience in these bars, we asked what kind of menu the restaurants offer there. A whopping 85% offer their full food menu in the bar, showing that the main differentiator from the dining room is simply atmosphere. 7% offer drinks and appetizers, or a limited food menu, while only 1% serve only drinks in the bar.
Of those who answered “Other,” some noted that they serve bar-only menus or modified versions of their full food menus (i.e., no tableside service).
WHAT’S THE REVENUE SPLIT BETWEEN YOUR BAR AND DINING ROOM?
The restaurant partners surveyed told us the revenue split in their bar is just about even between food and drinks – 50/50. But what about from the bar to the dining room? 48% say their dining room is more profitable than their bar, 21% say the bar is more profitable, and 31% say their bar and dining room are equally profitable.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE TURN TIME IN THE BAR VS. DINING ROOM?
Predictably, turn times are faster in the bar than the dining room. In the bar, 8% of respondents say turn times are half an hour or less; 46% say they’re between 31 and 60 minutes, and 33% claim 61-90 minutes.
In the dining room, only 8% see turn times of an hour or less. More popular responses were 61-90 minutes (46%) and 91-120 minutes (37%).
WHAT PORTION OF YOUR MARKETING SPEND IS FOR THE BAR VS. DINING ROOM?
DO YOU PLAN TO CHANGE YOUR MARKETING INVESTMENT?
What is the right amount of investment in the bar versus the dining room? Our respondents allocate on average 29% of their marketing spend to the bar and 72% to the dining room, but 24% are planning to increase their investment in their bar area in 2016. Happy hour, here we come!
IS THE BAR A WISE AREA FOR INVESTMENT?
TRUE OR FALSE: INVESTING IN MY BAR MADE MY BUSINESS MORE PROFITABLE.
And as for investing in bar seating as a whole? An overwhelming majority of our respondents (91%) say it’s a smart move. 85% agreed with the statement: “Investing in my bar area increased my restaurant’s profitability,” which tells us that we’re likely to see even more attention and resources allocated here in the year to come.
Thanks to all who participated in our first-ever Insider Survey Series! OpenTable partners, look for the next one in the coming week.