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DINING TRENDS

Restaurants focus on bar areas as bar side dining grows in popularity

By Emma Eversham+ , 09-Mar-2016
Last updated on 09-Mar-2016 at 15:31 GMT2016-03-09T15:31:15Z

Asia de Cuba is one restaurant which has invested in its bar recently to capitalise on the growing popularity of bar side dining
Asia de Cuba is one restaurant which has invested in its bar recently to capitalise on the growing popularity of bar side dining

Bar side dining is growing in popularity in UK restaurants with 55 per cent of diners now visiting a restaurant specifically for their bar menu, a survey by restaurant booking service OpenTable has found. 

The survey of more than 1,300 diners and restaurateurs found that 81 per cent of consumers enjoy eating up at the bar while 61 per cent said a welcoming bar area was more likely to make them visit its restaurant. 

The results are revealed as a number of restaurant operators pay increased attention to their business's bar areas. Last week London restaurant Asia de Cuba officially launched its bar area as a cocktail and ceviche bar while the refurbishment of Theo Randall's restaurant at The Intercontinental included a 'significant redesign' of its bar area with Randall creating a dedicated bar menu as part of a move to make the bar a destination in its own right. 

Varied price point

Many operators have already recognised the value of having a bar offering with 65 per cent of those surveyed saying they either have, or are planning to invest in their bar area in the next 12 months. Almost half (49 per cent) are planning to increase their marketing to promote bar dining in the year ahead while 19 per cent of restaurants currently without a bar are looking to invest in one.

OpenTable said the key incentives to investing in a bar area were the ability to offer a varied price point menu, have an area to test menu concepts, provide a different experience for customers and host private parties.

Having a bar also means guests are more likely to stay in the restaurant for a longer period with 68 per cent of diners saying they would be more likely to spend an entire evening in one location if the restaurant offered a welcoming bar area.

“The trend for bar dining is something we have seen coming through in our discussions with our restaurant partners over the past few months, and it’s interesting to see that the wider dining community is tapping into this too," said OpenTable managing director Mike Xenakis. "A great bar area not only acts as the gateway to a restaurant but is an area where chefs can test menu concepts and stay ahead of the trends.”

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