Fast food and family-oriented restaurants aside, restaurants can come to be known as much for their alcoholic beverages as their food. There are restaurants that focus so much on their beverages that drinks are what drive patrons in. But could that be changing? Is it possible that alcohol-free dining will be the next big thing for the restaurant scene?
The impetus behind the alcohol-free question is a recently released survey from Nielsen detailing what is being called the ‘mindful drinking’ movement. This movement is one in which millennials are making a conscious decision to reduce their alcohol consumption. More importantly, they are purposely being vocal about it. They want others to know they are cutting down on their drinking.
According to Nation’s Restaurant News, the movement is starting to have an effect on restaurants. Growing numbers of restaurant owners are starting to place a greater emphasis on non-alcoholic beverages capable of enhancing the dining experience.
Not Just Coffee and Soft Drinks
You might be tempted to think of nonalcoholic beverages as things like soda and coffee. While those options have been available all along, that is not what we are talking about here. Rather, restaurants are starting to serve things like alcohol-free wines, non-alcoholic beers, and a full variety of mixed drinks and cocktails that contain everything and anything but alcohol.
A good case in point is the non-alcoholic sangria. This is essentially an exotic fruit punch that focuses on combining the right fruit flavors rather than enhancing something like brandy with a bit of fruit juice. Non-alcoholic sangrias are quite delicious and pair well with everything from authentic Mexican to a New York strip steak.
The key here is flavor. It is one thing to serve millennials soft drinks, coffee, and tea. It is an entirely different matter to offer them alcohol-free beverage options that offer unique and tantalizing flavors.
A Different Kind of Experience
Right now it is still too early to tell whether or not the mindful drinking movement will lead to completely alcohol-free dining. The current focus is on reducing alcohol consumption, not eliminating it entirely. So we will have to wait to see where it goes. In the meantime though, it is clear that the movement is part of a larger movement looking for a different kind of dining experience.
Taqueria27, a four-location Mexican restaurantin Utah, is a restaurant focused on the neighborhood experience. The owners of the restaurant say they started Taqueria27 when they realized that people in many local neighborhoods had to get in the car and drive to other parts of the city to find good Mexican food.
They created their restaurant to be neighborhood focused. Their primary audience consists of families and singles who want to be able to take a casual walk down to the restaurant, enjoy a good meal together, and then walk home.
A Place to Unwind and Relax
Although the neighborhood experience isn’t ideal for everyone, it is an illustration of how dining is changing. Consumers appear to want more options that make them feel closer to home. They want farm-to-table options, locally owned establishments as opposed to chain restaurants, and places where they can just unwind and relax.
Is alcohol-free dining the next big thing? Time will tell. If it’s true that consumers are looking for local restaurants where they can truly unwind and relax, alcohol-free dining does have a real shot at becoming the norm. After all, how many of us spend the evening hours at home with a glass of alcohol always in hand?