According to The NPD Group’s latest CREST® report, foodservice independent outlet spending in Australia increased by 5% in the last quarter of 2021, and all signs point to that growth continuing through the first half of this year.

Since the end of the first quarter of 2021, the independent full-service restaurant (FSR) category has experienced steady growth, led by on-premise consumption primarily through the lunch occasion. The lunch segment is finally back in fashion! Anecdotally, we can see that while not everyone is back in the office on a full-time basis, many workers are making the trip into metro areas to meet colleagues and clients over lunch.

In the quick service restaurant category, the greatest contribution to growth has been coming from independent cafés, predominantly from the morning meal through both on-premise and home-based consumption. Breakfast, coffee, and morning snacks are proving to be winners for local cafes as Australians venture out of the home for their morning meals. It’s encouraging to see the increase in on-premise eating in cafes – a trend we expect will continue to grow in the coming months. There is no doubt that cafés have become community hubs for locals as they go about their morning routines.

My advice to foodservice on-premise operators is for FSR to focus on the lunch occasion for diners and promote take away evening meals for every consumer. By investing in both on-and-off-premise strategies, operators can grow both dayparts without risking cannibalisation.

Café owners should maximise the morning period by offering plenty of dine-in and take-out meals, as well as snacks. Consider deals with morning coffee, loyalty programs, specials, and plenty of menu variety to keep customers coming back. Start thinking about weekend lunch as on-premise dining is likely to grow in the coming months, and also consider offering take out dinners that can be sold to lunchtime diners for consumption at home later in the day.