News Feature | October 2, 2017

Restaurant And Hospitality News – October 2, 2017

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Dunkin' Donuts Mobile Ordering Pilot

In news this week, TGIFridays is looking to leverage its reputation as a fun bar to test alcohol delivery through third party  delivery service Lash; while Amtrak and Dunkin’ Donuts have announced an expanded partnership that puts the famed coffee on trains service up to 12 million riders a year in the Northeast Region.

TGIFriday’s To Launch Test Delivery Of Alcohol With Food Orders

TGIFridays has announced that it will begin testing alcohol delivery in the Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston areas of Texas beginning in November. As part of the beta test, Lash, a third-party delivery service, will deliver beer, wine, and other liquor as part of food delivery from restaurants. If the test results are positive, TGIFridays plans to roll out alcohol delivery nationwide in 2018.

The beta test marks a first for restaurant delivery services, as no other chair restaurant has ever delivered booze with food orders. The service will allow customers to place orders via the Fridays mobile app and add beer, wine, or other alcoholic beverages from the menu to be delivered via Lash to their door.  The alcohol will actually come from a local liquor store partner, picked up by the Lash driver, and not from the Fridays bar. TGIFridays told CNBC that it is still finalizing the delivery charges, and it is working with Lash to determine whether fees will be flat or determined by distance or order totals.

The app also allows customers to order an “Everything but the Booze” container, which includes a pouch of mixer, garnishes, two holiday-themed glasses and a shaker. While no box price has yet been established, customers can purchase the mixer pouch for $5. Drivers will be instructed to check ID for order recipients, and will not deliver alcohol to anyone who appears to be inebriated.

"We are a bar-centric restaurant brand," said Caroline Masullo, vice president of digital strategy for the chain with more than 900 restaurants globally. "We’re getting people who are looking for food and alcohol delivery in one. These are new customers coming to us, because we're the only ones doing this."

The move is designed to leverage the company’s reputation as a fun bar to help differentiate itself from its competition. Since launching its online ordering system last summer, Friday’s take-out sales have grown by 30 percent and the average online ordering ticket is 7.2 percent higher than an in-restaurant ticket.

Amtrak and Dunkin’ Donuts Pen Expanded Partnership Deal

Dunkin’ Donuts and Amtrak have announced the expansion of their earlier partnership to offer Dunkin’ Donuts coffee aboard Amtrak train service in the Northeast Region. The original partnership in April saw the offering of Dunkin’ Donuts hot coffee on the Acela Express high-speed trains throughout the Northeast Corridor. The expansion means that the signature coffee will be available to some 12 million riders of the Northeast Regional and Acela Express services each year.

“After a successful Acela Express launch, we’re excited to expand our partnership with Amtrak and serve those traveling to more than 50 stops between Richmond, VA and Boston, MA,” said Brian Gilbert, Dunkin’ Donuts Senior Director, New Business Development. “Whether guests are traveling for business or leisure in the Northeast, they’ll have Dunkin’ Donuts hot coffee to keep them energized throughout the trip.”

The Dunkin’ Donuts coffee will be available all day in First Class and Café cars, brewed using the same equipment found in the chain’s restaurants. The Northwest Regional is one of Amtrak’s most popular services, with hourly trains to New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Richmond, and Lynchburg, VA.

“We are excited to provide even more of our customers with an elevated coffee experience,” said Thomas J. Hall, Amtrak Vice President Passenger Experience.  “Our expanded partnership offers customers more of what they told us they want on board – variety, value and higher quality options. As two brands who share a commitment to providing a distinctive and premium customer experience, Amtrak and Dunkin’ Donuts are a great partnership.”