The Diner Dispatch: 2023 American Dining Habits
Dining out has become an integral part of American culture, offering convenience, socialization, and a break from cooking. But in a shifting landscape, how have behaviors changed when it comes to dining-out habits? How often do Americans dine out? Where do they go? What motivates consumers to choose their favorite restaurants over staying in for a home-cooked meal?
In a recent survey conducted on a sample of over 1,000 Americans, US Foods® gained valuable insights into their dining preferences, favorite restaurant types, ordering habits, tipping practices and more in 2023.
Americans’ choices for where they go out to eat reflect a shift towards casual convenience. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are sticking to their takeout or delivery habits, with the number of takeout and delivery orders surpassing dine-in occasions. On average, Americans are deciding to order takeout or delivery 4.5 times a month, compared to eating at a restaurant an average of 3 times a month.
What motivates people to dine at restaurants rather than their own kitchens? According to survey results, three-quarters of people dine out because they don’t feel like cooking, 51% said it’s more convenient, and 44% enjoy socialization.
Sometimes it’s just about the food. Takeout offers Americans the opportunity to enjoy restaurant-quality cuisine from the comfort of their homes. More than half (57%) of Americans prefer ordering takeout to physically going to a restaurant. The ability to enjoy someone else’s cooking while wearing comfortable clothes, watching TV, and convenience are all top reasons Americans enjoy ordering takeout.
When it comes to patience, more than half (54%) of Americans are willing to wait 30 minutes or more for takeout orders. The most popular types of cuisine to order takeout from include fast food, fast casual, casual dining, contemporary casual, and bar and grills.
Not all Americans prefer takeout, some prefer the act of going to, and sitting down, at a restaurant to enjoy the cuisine. While food is still the star of the show, it is more important than ever that the atmosphere and experience deliver! 63% said this is one of their top reasons for going out.
Other reasons Americans prefer dining out over dining at home include better socialization, better food quality (it’s almost guaranteed the food will be hot), and there’s no cleanup involved for diners.
“As consumers seek more exceptional dining experiences, they are also looking for new flavor experiences that excite their palates and provide a respite from their daily routines”, says Stacey Kinkaid, Vice President, Product Development and Innovation at US Foods. “The trend of global flavors demonstrates this as diners look for discovery and escape from the ordinary.”
When it comes to the most popular types of restaurants patrons enjoy frequenting, casual dining tops the list, followed by fast food, fast casual, contemporary casual, and bar and grills.
Going to a restaurant is an experience in itself. But that experience has changed in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many diners may have noticed the shift from physical menus to QR codes, a shift which is often becoming permanent. According to US Foods research, that change is not always well-received. More than 3 in 4 Americans prefer physical menus to a QR code. This is true for all generations, although 31% of Gen Z survey respondents say they prefer QR codes to physical menus.
Universally, the cost of meals is a major contributing factor to how often and where Americans go out to eat. According to survey results, half of Americans spend less than $20 per person when dining out. How much do Americans spend dining out every month? Over the course of the month, US Foods found Americans spend an average of $166 per person going out to eat.
When it comes to tipping, America is still undecided. Many are sticking with the long-held belief that 15% is the standard, but a new set of Americans are on board with recognizing the great service they receive with a 20% (or more!) tip.
There are so many different types of restaurants Americans can go to, from fast food and cafés to buffets and bistros. But one of the most popular types of restaurants is the “bar and grill.” As noted earlier in the study, 25% of Americans say bar and grills are one of their most-frequented restaurants when they go out to eat.
If you thought high-tops were the big rage, today’s stressed-out consumers have voted – and booths are the go-to for bar and grills. Their design and layout lead to comfort and conviviality.
The atmosphere of a bar and grill is important, too, especially during the height of the professional sports season, and 66% prefer bar and grills that have TVs.
Regardless if Americans are dining out or ordering in, Americans are happy to have the option to not be in the kitchens and will be enjoying the many aspects of the restaurant industry in 2023.
“As diner habits and priorities continue to evolve, restaurant operators must continue to optimize their menu, marketing spend and technology solutions to stay profitable”, says David Eschler, Vice President of Culinary and Restaurant Operations at US Foods. “Our team of chefs and Restaurant Operations Consultants at US Foods is focused on helping operators make the best decisions for their bottom line, whether that’s the food they serve or the technology they implement.”
In December of 2022, US Foods surveyed 1,000 people which reflects the demographic makeup of the general American population.
Citing This Survey
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