A Change in Dining Hours – Dinner Saturday at 7:30? No thanks

For years, I’ve heard restaurants complain about diners all wanting to be seated at the same time on the same day, smack-dab in the middle of the dinner hour on a weekend. It’s impossible to accommodate every would-be guest, especially if the venue is busy and able to get two or more turns during the shift.  

While the OpenTable platform has assisted its restaurant partners in smoothing demand, including via online reservations (“choose an available time” vs “phone diplomacy”, trying to coax a potential guest into a 6pm slot), there is additional good news for all. OpenTable’s recent research on Dining Trends, which surveyed over 1,000 people aged from 18-60, revealed a change in diner behaviour when eating out – highlighting that diner preferences are moving towards mid-week dining.

The rise of mid-week dining

This survey interestingly revealed that 70% of diners surveyed are choosing mid-week dining over weekends – Why? There are more value based meal and drinks deals on offer (27%),  it adds some fun into the weekly routine (26%) and there is more availability when dining at “off-peak” times (17%).   

This trend is likely fueled by the way we work in the modern world. I personally work remotely most days, thus after a 7am start at my kitchen bench, by 8pm I’m hungry for more than dinner but also for human interaction and a change of scenery.  

It appears I’m not alone in this sentiment with 78% of Gen Ys and 71% of the X-ers loving mid-week dining, perhaps since modern work routines look different than the standard office, where we were surrounded by others and looked forward to the peace of a night at home.  

To take advantage of the mid-week dining trend, OpenTable restaurants around the globe have created innovative offers that can be featured as an option for diners during their booking experience. This not only inspires diners to choose restaurants for mid-week, but also provides an opportunity for the venue to reinforce their brand and connect with their audience in new and meaningful ways.

Ensuring a restaurant has a nimble, easy-to-drive platform will enhance your efficiency in satisfying the ever-evolving consumer. Here are just a few successful strategies I have seen during my time in the industry, to capitalise on diners searching for options mid-week:

  • Collaboration – A local Darlinghurst venue has neighbouring chefs take over the burners to shake up the mid-week.; In L.A., the craft cocktail craze brings guest bartenders and cocktails to amp up a Tuesday night meal.
  • Current events – one Potts Point restaurant followed the Tour De France, highlighting specials each night from the regions where cyclists were on that day.
  • Accessible Luxury – In Chicago, a financial district restaurant raffles off a pair of luxury shoes every Wednesday night, whilst a Toronto fine dining venue offers a break on their “Sommeliers Wine List” each Thursday.

In the end, mid-week dining is becoming a hit amongst Australian diners.  Dinner on Tuesday, anyone?


This column was first published in the September 2017 edition of FoodService News