A new era of ‘food and drink repast’ is taking shape, as food and drink firms are seeking to capitalize on the growing popularity of restaurants as a venue for socialising and dining, with the aim of attracting customers to their restaurants.
The trend is sweeping the US as companies such as McDonalds, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Starbucks, and retailers such as Walmart, Costco and Target, begin to offer repast meals in stores.
In fact, the fast food industry has already overtaken retail as the world’s largest food and beverage company, with revenue of $3.8 trillion last year.
“The restaurant has become a social hub,” said Scott Felsenthal, a restaurant consultant and founder of Restaurants Capital, which has helped restaurants expand across the US.
“People want to hang out and get a quick bite and socialize and socialise.
The idea is that the food is there to have a drink and to make people feel comfortable and to have them come back for more.”
Felshenk’s firm has been working with restaurants to test out the idea and, with partners including Shake Shack and Panera Bread, have set up a network of restaurants that will serve repast dinners, similar to what is offered in bars and restaurants.
“Our goal is to create restaurants that are inviting and comfortable to serve you food and drinks and that is what we are trying to do with this,” Felsensenthal said.
In many countries, the restaurant concept has been seen as a model for improving public health. “
There is an entire sector of the food industry that is focused on this.”
In many countries, the restaurant concept has been seen as a model for improving public health.
In Australia, a ban on eating out at restaurants for a week in September 2013, was lifted and the government recently announced it will allow restaurants to serve food from the pub.
The concept of repast has gained traction in the US, where restaurateurs are already offering restaurants a special discount if they serve a meal at a table or on a bar stool.
In the US and UK, restaurants are also catering for their customers by offering free meals on weekends and at the weekend.
“This is a way for people to meet other people, to socialise, to have fun,” said Steve LeBlanc, chief executive of the Australian Restaurant and Food Association.
“I don’t think we need to restrict restaurants to serving their food on a Saturday and Sunday.
I think that’s a great opportunity for us to have that kind of a conversation.”
While the trend has taken off in the UK, LeBlann said that “there are also restaurants that don’t have a ban in place” and are “going the extra mile” to provide free meals.
Felsonsays he is excited to see restaurants and other businesses taking on the repast concept in the United States, and said it is important to remember that there are “tough issues out there”.
“If you look at the numbers, we have more people dying from the flu than the number of people dying in the last flu pandemic,” he said.
LeBlans said that while it is “not the answer everyone wants”, the new wave is part of the larger trend of people wanting to eat out more.
“What is interesting about this is it is not just about the number on the menu.
It is about the idea of the social experience.
This is the type of conversation that will bring people together, whether it is at a restaurant or at the bar,” he added.
“We need to be thinking about all the other things that are important to a human being, such as health, well-being, happiness and all the things that people want to get out of life.”
For more on repast, read our feature on the topic here.