Restaurant leaders are rolling out new equipment, platforms, and solutions to meet consumers’ demand for consistent service of premium, artisan-crafted menu items. Increased demand for restaurant-industry beverage solutions is being driven by consumer desires for premium menu items with distinct, high-flavor profiles. Industry leaders say consumers are looking to incorporate healthy options into their diets, especially items made-to-order with natural ingredients minus added wait times.
Mark Hatch, VP of Foodservice Trade Relations at Winsight Media, organizer of the National Restaurant Association Show and FSTEC, says customers are seeking out exciting flavors and functional food and beverage options that fulfill their desire to live healthier lives. Inventive restaurant leaders are speeding up their adoption of foodservice equipment specially designed for fast, convenient service of these premium items to meet this growing demand.
With beverage margins significantly stronger than those associated with food items, restaurant leaders are seeing even more opportunity for growth in the drink category. They are quick to deploy equipment that will help them expand and enhance their premium beverage offerings to meet customer needs. Rather than replacing existing options, restaurant leaders are seeing an overall increase in beverage attachment rates. Consumers who had not planned to add a drink to their food order are more inclined than ever to opt-in for a premium smoothie, fruit-flavored tea, boba tea, lemonade or latte made from scratch with all-natural ingredients. It is unsurprising that QSR leaders like McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts have expanded their beverage lines to compete in the premium, cafe-style drink category.
Starbucks CEO Laxman Narsimham told investors that 75% of revenues in Q3 of 2023 were from items in the cold drink category.* Due to the rise in demand for Refresher frozen beverages, new cold foam blenders have been rolled-out to all U.S. company-run units. Narasimhan referred to this equipment rollout as “one of the fastest” in the company’s history.
Scooter’s Coffee recently incorporated organic hot and iced tea options into its beverage program. Nathan Lester, Senior Director of Drive-thru Innovation at Scooter’s Coffee, says it is not only about quality beverage options, but convenient, speedy service of these premium options. According to Lester, consistency and speed of service are differentiators.
Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya’s District Manager, John Morris, attributes increased product loyalty and higher profit margins to consistent drink service and beverage quality. Deploying Botrista, the leading freshly-blended beverage platform and drink crafting station, Morris says the brand has realized a 20-30% increase in incremental revenues. “Being exact in our pours with Botrista, we are selling plenty of high-quality, premium beverages. This allows us to invest those profits into further growth of our brand,” says Morris. “I am seriously excited about it. I love how easy it is for our team members to be successful with it. It is a great tool for our guests as well, they have fun coming in to get a drink.”
Realizing the undeniable growth in demand for artisan-quality beverages and drinks made from natural ingredients, Hatch joined the advisory board for Botrista in 2023. Botrista supports brands in developing on-trend, on-brand beverage experiences. “Botrista is fulfilling the QSR and fast casual segments’ need for professionally-directed beverage strategies,” says Hatch. “The company empowers industry visionaries to offer premium drinks made from high quality, natural ingredients, like fruit purees, natural sweeteners, boba teas and optional vitamin additives The powered beverage station is designed to create these craft drinks with the push of a button.”
Forward-thinking restaurant leaders are realizing an overall lift across the entire beverage category when introducing premium drink options. Adding premium beverage varieties has proven to increase beverage attachment rates, the percentage of customers that add a drink to their order. Rather than shifting sales from traditional beverages to the freshly-blended premium drinks, there tends to be an overall lift across the drink category as a whole, with soft drink sales also positively impacted.
Hatch says he has seen restaurant industry executives “light up” while trying some of the premium, Botrista-crafted drinks served on the FSTEC show floor. Attendees at the 2023 event can prepare to indulge in flavors that only Botrista can make at the touch of a button,” says Jason Valentine, Chief Strategy Officer at Botrista. “Our team will be on hand to sample cafe-style drinks made from natural ingredients, showcasing the artistry and innovation that set Botrista apart. We are here to guide and support restaurant partners through the remarkable beverage innovation journey.”
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About Botrista Botrista provides automated beverage solutions to foodservice operators. Operators can increase ticket size and beverage attachment by serving non-alcoholic craft beverages to younger generation consumers. The trendy innovative craft beverages include boba teas, smoothies, iced coffee, flavored lemonades, energy drinks, and more. Importantly, data shows these new options drive overall drink sales higher without cannibalizing existing soda sales. Botrista enables operators to add a new beverage category to their menu without the operational complexities. Botrista’s platform allows operators to subscribe to world-class quality from the leading ingredient manufacturers that they partner with. The vision is to make any staff member a professional barista or bartender with the easy-to-use Botrista system.