Casual dining’s search for sales has come to this: beer delivery.
BJ’s Restaurants Inc. has launched alcohol delivery and an online ordering platform, the company said Monday.
The pilot alcohol delivery program allows customers ages 21 or older in select California markets to add six-packs of the chain’s craft beer to orders. They can order from BJ’s directly or from the DoorDash app.
“We are excited to provide a new generation of customers, particularly Millennials, with a simpler and more convenient way to order their favorite menu item,” BJ’s CEO Greg Trojan said in a statement.
The project follows news in July that Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. was in the early planning stages of a beer delivery program.
Delivery is arguably the biggest trend in the restaurant industry, with operators from McDonald’s Corp. to The Cheesecake Factory Inc. working on some form of delivery. Most operators are partnering with third-party delivery providers, such as DoorDash or Uber.
Casual-dining operators consider delivery to be a potential strategy to regain lost traffic, particularly with younger Millennial consumers who have shifted their spending to limited-service chains or local restaurants.
The segment’s traffic has been weak since 2006. According to MillerPulse data, casual-dining chains have had only four non-negative traffic months since at least 2012.
The problem with delivery, however, is that such orders typically don’t come with the alcohol around which many casual-dining chains were built.
That’s particularly true for brands like BJ’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, which consider their bars to be vital to profitability. Beverage sales are typically more profitable than food sales.
But delivering alcoholic beverages could help improve the profitability of those orders.
BJ’s, much like Buffalo Wild Wings, has struggled with weak same-store sales in recent quarters. Same-store sales declined 1.4 percent at Huntington Beach, Calif.-based BJ’s in the second quarter ended July 4.
BJ’s offers five varieties of beer in cans and 25 varieties of wine by the bottle.
The company has also integrated DoorDash into its website and mobile app to make ordering delivery more seamless.
BJ’s offers delivery at 98 restaurants in California; Denver; Indianapolis; Washington, D.C.; Miami; Columbus, Ohio; Seattle; and some locations in Arizona, Nevada and Texas.
“We learned that our guests don’t want to be redirected to external websites when placing online orders,” Trojan said. “They can now stay within the BJ’s website or app and enjoy an uninterrupted experience.”
Contact Jonathan Maze at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze