Canadian Family-Style Restaurants Say Cheers to Adult Beverages

Two weeks ago we looked at how casual-dining restaurant operators across Canada are elevating their adult beverage menus. But the trend of taking beverage programs up a notch isn’t limited to casual-dining establishments. Just because family restaurants are known for being especially kid-friendly doesn’t mean they can’t be friendly with the over-18 crowd, too. Alcohol beverages increasingly are showing up on menus at family-style restaurants across Canada, whether in the form of Caesars for Sundays or beers to pair with a weeknight burger.

From 2011 to 2012, the number of adult beverages on menus at Canadian family-style restaurants increased about 24 percent. Beer is the top offering, although growth in menu incidence of white wine and specialty adult beverages was seen, too.

It’s a development/trend that should cheer younger male guests, in particular: In a recent Technomic survey, nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of Canadian male consumers ages 19-34 who visit family restaurants said they would do so more often if there were a wider variety of adult beverages on the menu. Fifteen percent of women of the same age said they would do the same.

Several Canadian family-style chains that, according to Technomic’s restaurant-chain database, recorded sales growth in 2011 offer at least a few choices of beer and wine (and sometimes cocktails). Among the family-style chains where diners can satisfy their thirst for an adult beverage:

  • Ricky’s All Day Grill, based in Burnaby, B.C. Ricky’s offers an extensive cocktail selection and signature drinks such as the Pirate Island (vodka, coconut rum, dark rum, pineapple juice and orange juice) and the Mardi Gras Caesar, which pairs Clamato with vodka, chipotle hot sauce, a spicy bean and lime.
  • Denny’s, where guests can order a hard cider with their Bacon Chipotle Chicken Skillet. At lunch and dinner, Denny’s—which saw sales climb 9 percent in 2011 without the addition of new units—menus domestic, domestic premium and imported beers; two red wines, two white wines and a white Zinfandel (all available by the glass, half-litre or litre); and two adult coffee drinks.
  • Quebec City-based Normandin, which, appropriately enough for a French-influenced concept, offers beer at lunch and a selection of two red wines at both lunch and dinner.
  • Both IHOP and Sunset Grill—the latter of which posted 36 percent sales growth in 2011. Both sell beer and wine at licensed locations; Swiss Chalet serves these as well as classic vodka, rum and whiskey cocktails.

Though adult beverages are far more central to the menu at casual-dining restaurants, family-style restaurants shouldn’t overlook their potential as a sales-boosting tool and a way to connect with younger guests.

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Patrick Noone

With more than 15 years of experience in the research/consulting industry, Patrick Noone, Executive Vice President, Business Development, is integrally involved in the sales, development and marketing of Technomic's online resources, reports and custom studies—tools that provide clients with actionable industry data that supports their strategic and tactical business planning processes. He also manages Technomic's Business Development and Client Service teams.

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