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More than half of NYC residents would consider a restaurant subscription, study finds

The survey also found that 5% would check out that model if it'd help a favorite restaurant stay afloat.
BWW Wings
Photo courtesy of Buffalo Wild Wings

More than half (55%) of New York City residents would be interested in a restaurant subscription service, where they pay a monthly fee instead of a la carte charges for their meals, a new survey has found.

Roughly one in 20 (5%) of the respondents in the survey by PropertyNest said they would give that model a try for no other reason than helping a favorite restaurant stay in business.

Others said they would need to be enticed with special offers for subscribers, such as free delivery (cited by 4.6%) or special discounts (8.6%). Another 15.8% expressed interest in the notion, but said they lack sufficient funds at the moment to give the model a try.

The idea of a restaurant subscription was most popular among residents aged 18 to 24, and least popular among those above 65. Men were more likely to be interested than women, though PropertyNest noted that female respondents were also more likely to fall into the group lacking the money to consider a subscription.

PropertyNest is a service that helps would-be renters and homebuyers determine their credit worthiness. Its examination of restaurant subscriptions, still a rarity in the business, comes as many in and out of the industry are calling for the development of new and more sustainable means of making restaurants financially viable. A recent op-ed piece in The New York Times, for instance, spells out a new labor model where staff members are also equity holders. Others note that virtual restaurants and ghost kitchens hold the potential for bringing down overhead and startup costs.

Few operators offer a subscription model. At the start of the football season, Buffalo Wild Wings offered two versions. For $99, customers can buy a pass entitling them to 10 boneless or regular chicken wings per week for each of the NFL season’s 17 weeks.  Only 1,000 were offered.  If patrons bought the same amount of wings a la carte, they’d pay $190, according to the chain.

Residents of Cleveland, Ohio, were offered an opportunity to buy a $750 season pass to local Buffalo Wild Wings that set up a portion of their dining room as a mini version of the Dawg Pound, the bleacher section of the stadium that hosts the Cleveland Browns. For that amount, subscribers get four seats, a “Gameday Spread” consisting of 15 traditional wings, 15 boneless wings, a basket of fries, ultimate nachos and fountain drinks for the group; a cooler in Cleveland orange; Dawg Pound face masks; and stickers. The tickets are being sold through StubHub, the virtual ticket window and resale website.

Panera Bread offers a coffee subscription where patrons pay $8.99 a month in exchange for a cup of coffee per day. The fast-casual chain says the numbers work out to a cup of coffee for about 30 cents per day.

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