To remain relevant and thrive in a fiercely competitive industry, restaurants constantly seek new ways to capture diverse audiences. Whether through novel limited-time offerings or immersive dining experiences that combine play and eating, the modern restaurant is continuously adapting. So, what’s new on the menu these days?
The restaurant industry is witnessing a significant resurgence in late-night sales, signaling a return to normalcy post-COVID challenges. According to data from Circana, late-night traffic increased by 7.5% in Q2 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. This revival of late-night business has become a focal point in recent earnings calls, suggesting that consumers are once again embracing all dining options, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night snacks.
Which Restaurants Are Alive in the Late-Night Witching Hours?
Restaurants like Denny’s are actively reclaiming their late-night operations, with 75% of their establishments now back to 24-hour service. Denny’s virtual brands, such as Burger Den and The Melt Shop, play a key role in attracting younger customers and generating late-night orders due to their kitchen capacity. Quick-service giants like Taco Bell and Wendy’s are also making significant comebacks in the late-night sector, with strong growth in this daypart contributing to their improved performance.
Pizza Hut has extended delivery and takeout hours, with some locations open until 2 a.m., and Chipotle keeps select outlets open until midnight on Halloween. Wendy’s has also expanded its drive-thru hours into the late night. Jack in the Box has seen a resurgence in late-night business, reporting a 7.9% increase in same-store sales in Q2, largely attributed to late-night demand. Late-night visits have also risen at other major chains, including McDonald’s and Burger King. McDonald’s showed 10.5% of overall visits in Q2 came in between 10 pm and 4am.
Although late-night sales traditionally make up a small share of restaurant revenue, customers typically spend more during these hours, and late-night orders often favor delivery, allowing for cost savings. Improved staffing levels and the reduced competition from struggling 24-hour diners have fueled this late-night resurgence, making it an appealing business proposition for many restaurant brands.