Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of U.S Full Service Restaurants market including the behaviors, preferences and habits of the consumer.

COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted the full-service restaurant segment due to rolling dine-in bans and more limited off-premise options and higher price points compared to the limitedservice segment. As a result, recovering to prepandemic sales levels will take some time. The biggest opportunities to improve sales lie in creating value through convenience, safety, and experience. This means curating unique off-premise offerings (ie takeout, delivery), expanding beyond core dayparts, and ensuring an enjoyable and safe dining experience both on premise and off. Targeting current full-service restaurant diners will be vital to future success as they remain an engaged group, despite the pandemic’s negative effects.

Read on to discover more details or take a look at all of our U.S Food and U.S Drinks market research.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the full-service restaurant market.
  • How a recession will impact consumer spending at full-service restaurants and how soon the market is expected to recover to prepandemic levels.
  • The importance of full-service restaurants investing in off-premise offerings (eg ghost kitchens, takeout/delivery, meal kits, drive-thrus, etc) and off-peak occasions to maintain relevancy during the pandemic and beyond.
  • The biggest motivators and barriers impacting consumer behavior at full-service restaurants as well as the biggest opportunities for driving future visitation.

Covered in this report

Definitions used: Family midscale restaurants, casual dining restaurants, fine dining restaurants.

Brands featured: Commanders Palace, Momotaro’s, Cooper’s Hawk, Cracker Barrel and more.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Emma Allmann, a leading analyst in the Foodservice sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Full-service restaurants are certainly feeling the effects of COVID-19 more intensely than their limited-service counterparts, but that does not mean they’re down for the count. Current full-service patrons are highly engaged meaning operators have a prime opportunity to reach them with exciting on- and off-premise experiences. Restaurants will need to make diners feel safe as many diners are still hesitant when it comes to restaurant spending and their comfort level in dining on premise.

Emma Allmann

Junior Foodservice Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Key issues covered in this Report
        • Definition
          • COVID-19: FSR context
          • Executive Summary

              • Top takeaways
                • Market overview
                  • Figure 1: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of full-service restaurants, at current prices, 2015-25
                • Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on full-service restaurants
                  • Figure 2: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on full-service restaurants, February 2021
                • Opportunities and challenges
                  • Addressing safety concerns is the fastest track to recovery
                    • Figure 3: FSR motivators, December 2020
                  • LSR visitation outpaces return to FSRs
                    • Figure 4: Restaurant ordering, February-December 2020
                  • …but current diners are highly engaged
                    • Figure 5: Year over year change in restaurant ordering, December 2020
                  • Refresh innovation to engage young adults
                    • Figure 6: FSR occasions, by generation, December 2020
                  • FSRs must reimagine the dining experience
                    • Figure 7: Attitudes toward FSRs, any agree, December 2020
                • The Market – Key Takeaways

                  • FSRs face a long road to recovery
                    • Consumer financial and safety concerns are obstacles FSRs must tackle
                      • Evolving with new operating models and menu items can help FSRs maintain relevancy
                      • Market Size and Forecast

                        • FSR sales will not recover until 2024
                          • Figure 8: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of full-service restaurants, at current prices, 2015-25
                          • Figure 9: Total US retail sales and forecast of full-service restaurants, at current prices, 2015-25
                        • Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on full-service restaurants
                          • Figure 10: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on full-service restaurants, February 2021
                        • COVID-19: FSR context
                        • Market Breakdown

                          • Casual dining market share was shrinking prepandemic
                            • Figure 11: Share of top 200 restaurant chain sales, 2019
                          • FSRs will continue to lose market share to LSRs
                            • Figure 12: Market share of total US sales and forecast of restaurants and eating places*, by segment, 2019-25
                            • Figure 13: Total US sales and forecast of restaurants and eating places, by segment, at current prices, 2015-25
                          • Prepandemic growth strategies became vital for pandemic survival
                            • Figure 14: Change in sales of top 30 casual and family/midscale chains from 2018-19*
                        • Market Factors

                          • COVID-19 safety concerns hinder on-premise dining desire
                            • Figure 15: Dine-in intentions, September 2020
                          • Changes in Restaurant OrderingFinancial hardships create challenges for FSRs
                            • Figure 16: Unemployment, January 2007-December 2020
                          • Retail and retail foodservice competition grows
                            • Figure 17: Prepared food purchasing frequency year over year, September 2020
                          • Takeout and delivery usage growing but don’t make up for lack of in-person dining
                            • Figure 18: Restaurant ordering, pickup and delivery – NETS, June 2016, September 2018, September 2019 and May 2020
                        • Market Opportunities

                          • Alcohol takeout and delivery provide much-needed profits for FSRs
                            • Drive-thrus can drive sales
                              • Expansion into new dayparts, menu items are prime opportunities
                                • Figure 19: IHOP email, “Hungry? IHOP’s got ya covered,” January 21, 2021
                              • FSRs go virtual
                              • Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

                                • The off-premise experience is key to survival
                                  • Employee rights are a matter of public health
                                    • Restaurant meal kits alleviate consumer cooking fatigue
                                    • Competitive Strategies

                                      • FSRs embrace the off-premise experience
                                        • Figure 20: Restaurants offering an off-premise experience
                                      • Employee and community support can strengthen brand loyalty
                                        • FSRs facilitate home cooking with meal kits
                                        • The Consumer – Key Takeaways

                                          • FSR ordering still lagging but current diners are engaged
                                            • Operators need to ease diners’ cost and safety concerns
                                              • Off-premise dining is key to survival yet consumers are skeptical of its quality, value
                                                • Off-peak occasions, high quality menu items and family offerings can drive visitation
                                                • Restaurant Ordering

                                                  • FSRs need to compete on convenience
                                                    • Figure 21: Restaurant ordering, February-December 2020
                                                  • Reach older generations with at-home celebrations
                                                    • Figure 22: Restaurant ordering, by generation, December 2020
                                                  • Casual dining can fulfil a consumer desire for premium convenience
                                                    • Figure 23: Restaurant ordering, by household income, December 2020
                                                • Changes in Restaurant Ordering

                                                  • Current diners are highly engaged across restaurant segments
                                                    • Figure 24: Year over year change in restaurant ordering, December 2020
                                                  • FSRs should serve meals with a side of entertainment to appeal to parents
                                                    • Figure 25: Year over year change in restaurant ordering, by parental status, December 2020
                                                    • Figure 26: Cracker Barrel email, “It’s all food and games from here,” January 15, 2021
                                                • Casual Dining Motivators

                                                  • Casual dining needs to highlight community involvement, local support
                                                    • Figure 27: Casual dining motivators, December 2020
                                                • Casual Dining Barriers

                                                  • Safety and cost concerns are obstacles casual restaurants must address
                                                    • Figure 28: Casual dining barriers, December 2020
                                                • FSR Occasions

                                                  • FSRs must continue bringing diners together, even at home
                                                    • Figure 29: FSR occasions, December 2020
                                                  • Younger generations are key to off-peak occasion success
                                                    • Figure 30: FSR occasions, by generation, December 2020
                                                  • Casual dining faces an identity crisis
                                                    • Figure 31: FSR occasions by restaurant ordering, December 2020
                                                • FSR Motivators

                                                  • FSRs can create value through safety precautions, promotions and quality kid-friendly fare
                                                    • Figure 32: FSR motivators, December 2020
                                                  • Older generations need to feel at ease about on-premise FSR dining
                                                    • Figure 33: FSR motivators, by generation, December 2020
                                                • FSR Alcohol Motivators

                                                  • FSRs alcohol faces an uphill battle
                                                    • Figure 34: FSR alcohol motivators, December 2020
                                                  • Combine alcohol deals with off-premise experiences to reach Hispanics
                                                    • Figure 35: FSR alcohol motivators, by race and Hispanic origin, December 2020
                                                  • Proving value through convenience and discounts may fuel FSR alcoholic beverage purchases
                                                    • Figure 36: TURF analysis – alcohol motivators, December 2020
                                                • Attitudes toward FSRs

                                                  • FSR off-premise options are a double-edged sword
                                                    • Figure 37: Attitudes toward FSRs, any agree, December 2020
                                                  • Consumers agree tech is impersonal but important
                                                    • Figure 38: Attitudes toward FSRs, by generation, December 2020
                                                • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                  • Data sources
                                                    • Sales data
                                                      • Forecast
                                                        • Consumer survey data
                                                          • Direct marketing creative
                                                            • Abbreviations and terms
                                                              • Abbreviations
                                                                • Terms
                                                                • Appendix – The Market

                                                                    • Figure 39: Total US retail sales and forecast of full-service restaurants, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2015-25
                                                                    • Figure 40: Total US sales and forecast of limited-service eating places*, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2015-25
                                                                • Appendix – The Consumer

                                                                  • TURF Methodology
                                                                      • Figure 41: Table – TURF Analysis – Alcohol motivators, December 2020
                                                                      • Figure 42: FSR alcohol motivators, by generation, December 2020

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