According to technomic’s consumer trend report, 40% of millennial consumers say they are very likely to order an adult beverage from a fast-casual restaurant. Considering that millennials represent roughly 25% of the U.S. population and have the most spending power of any living generation, alcohol is something that fast casual restaurants should seriously consider adding to their menus!

While libations have historically been seen as a fixture of bars and full-service restaurants, some fast-casual establishments are cashing in on the alcohol-addition frenzy. Adding adult beverages to fast-casual restaurants is complex, but, ultimately advantageous. Most intuitively, the addition of alcohol increases revenue and keeps your restaurant competitive. 

The Benefits of Booze to Biz

For instance, two coworkers are looking to get drinks after work and decide to walk into your fast casual restaurant. They just want drinks, only drinks, but your chips and guac look pretty appetizing. By offering alcohol, customers may come in for a beverage but may be more inclined to order food too. Additionally, people don’t tend to get drinks alone. 

Not only can serving alcohol incidentally increase food sales, but it can also help restaurants get an edge on their competition. A fast-casual restaurant serving drinks combines the best of two worlds: a casual atmosphere with full-service accommodations. When customers are looking for a restaurant with all of the bells and whistles and none of the frills, a fast-casual watering hole becomes their go-to.

Not So Easy

However, making the decision to offer alcoholic beverages isn’t always as simple as it seems. Alcohol policies can differ by state, by county, or even by town. As a result, it can be challenging to fully understand the regulations affecting each restaurant. For chains with businesses in multiple locations, this can be even more difficult.

Obtaining a liquor license can also be difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. In a larger, busier city like New York, a single liquor license can cost businesses tens of thousands of dollars. Staff must also be trained and licensed to handle alcohol, which comes with an additional cost. Again, this challenge is amplified for restaurant owners operating more than one location.

Serving alcohol can also pose legal risks for restaurant owners. For one, it can be difficult to manage ID checking. Though administrators may trust that their employees are checking customers’ at all times, it can be difficult to know for sure. As a result, restaurant owners could be held liable for underage drinking–even if they aren’t aware that it’s occurring. Preventing overconsumption can also be difficult in a fast-casual atmosphere, where service is often fast-paced and customers do not have a large amount of face time with employees.

Further, it is difficult to predict the ways that people will behave when served alcohol. While you can’t control your patrons, if you sell or serve liquor you can be held liable for their actions–whether that be patrons getting into a fight on your property, driving drunk, or unintentionally hurting themselves or others. To protect staff and themselves from legal action should any alcohol-related incidents occur, fast-casual restaurant owners may want to consider liquor liability insurance.

New Liability to Consider

Liquor liability insurance covers any damages or injuries that a restaurant may be responsible as a result of selling, serving, or furnishing alcoholic beverages. Liquor liability policies also cover the legal costs necessary to defend a restaurant from any lawsuits seeking damages. Liquor liability insurance protects businesses that manufacture, sell, or serve alcohol when a patron drinks too much and causes damage or injury resulting in claims. 

Most standard insurance policies do not cover alcohol-related incidents, so restaurants looking to be covered in these situations will most likely need to purchase a liquor liability policy separately. If you’re not sure whether or not your restaurant is covered, Bikelane’s insurance experts can help you make sure that your restaurant is prepared to handle alcohol-related claims.

Opting to serve alcohol can be a great decision for fast-casual restaurants. First, there’s a chance to increase incidental food sales and, as a result, profit. Serving alcohol also gives fast-casual restaurants a leg up on the competition. However, the choice to serve alcohol is not one that restaurants should make before taking the correct precautions.