Although on-premise wine sales dipped 2.6 percent from May to October compared to the same period last year, the news was much better for two surprising segments of the industry. Family dining and quick-service restaurants both saw double-digit growth, according to Restaurant Sciences, a company that tracks food and beverage product sales.
To clarify, the firm defines family dining as places with average guest checks of less than $32 and quick serve as those with counter service only, so most fast-casual restaurants would be included in the latter. And they, in fact, are driving the gains at the lower end that helped offset a huge 17.7 percent decline in wine sales at bars and nightclubs.
“With an estimated 12 percent of 30,000 fast-casual locations distributing wine, this segment provides ample opportunity for expansion, and we expect the wine industry to take notice,” says Chuck Ellis, president and c.e.o. of Restaurant Sciences.
Many fast-casual chains ramped up their alcohol offerings this year by adding craft beer and wine programs and even cocktails in some cases. Many of the new wave of fast-casual pizza brands aiming to become the next Chipotle offer beer and wine.
Casual dining guest checks range from $32-78, while upscale-casual average checks are from $78-$122.50. Restaurants in the white tablecloth category have average guest checks of more than $122.50.