In their efforts to highlight the added value they can offer, compared with their online counterparts, as well as to drive traffic and increase revenues, many brick-and-mortar retail locations are expanding into the restaurant business. Well-known retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Polo Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Barneys are all adopting a version of this practice, opening up swanky restaurants or casual cafes in their flagships stores around the globe.

Customers visit the stores to meet friends, have a unique dining experience, and relax, such that the experience sets the tone for a more fun and relaxed shopping trip afterward. The stores also benefit from an additional revenue stream: From a casual cup of coffee or glass of red wine to a fine dining experience, many retail locations have made the dining experience a central part of the existing store, while also filling up some vacant store space with revenue-producing café tables.

In addition to benefiting from the increased sales that happy, relaxed, well-fed shoppers provide, many stores are working on developing innovative ways to blend the shopping and dining experiences. For example, some retailers provide services to hold items for diners, so that they can finalize their purchases after eating and without tucking their new clothes under the table. Not only does it save space at the table, but it also encourages diners to take one last walk through the store as they go to collect their purchase (and hopefully add one or two more items to their tab).

The Maison Assouline bookstore in London even places a book catalog on the table, next to the menu, so that hungry readers can peruse the available selection of new releases and other top sellers while dining. Barneys has integrated its online platform with its café tables, such that shoppers can even sit and order items while dining, then pick up the products at another location in the same store after their meal has ended.

In the dynamic retail world, companies must continue to innovate new ways to bring customers into stores and engage and excite them once they have arrived. Adding food to the equation is one tried-and-true way to capture the attention of the modern consumer, implying that these retailers may have stumbled upon the recipe for success.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why do retailers have in-store restaurants?
  2. How have the reasons for installing restaurants in stores changed over the years?
  3. Have in-store restaurants affected your shopping behavior?

Source: Melanie Abrams, “Come for the Shopping, Stay for the Food,” The New York Times, October 26, 2017