OpenTable Releases Surprising New Data On Our Dining Habits

We're eating later at night, treating ourselves to more lunches, and starting the weekend earlier.

OpenTable, a restaurant technology company that allows customers to book dining reservations, recently relaunched its State of the Industry dashboard, which compiles reservation data to provide insights on its network of partner restaurants and the diners who visit them. In 2023, the dashboard indicates some interesting shifts in the overall dining landscape, ones that run the gamut from unexpected to encouraging.

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The State of the Industry dashboard was originally launched during the pandemic to show how restaurants were being impacted by a lack of foot traffic. To gain insight into consumer dining trends for each report, OpenTable taps into its global network of 55,000 restaurants and surveys more than 10,000 diners, asking them about topics such as tipping, menu prices, online reviews, restaurant spending, and holiday plans.

Throughout the month of March, OpenTable found, more and more people were dining at restaurants later in the evening; almost every night of the week, there was an uptick in people dining out at 8 or 9 p.m. Diners specifically demonstrated a willingness to grab dinner later on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Here's how those days broke down:

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  • Monday dining at 8 p.m. went up by 9%, and 9 p.m. reservations were up 18%
  • Wednesday reservations at 8 p.m. increased 15%, and 9 p.m. slots went up 23%
  • Thursdays at 8 p.m. increased 18%, and 9 p.m. jumped up 24%
  • Beyond demonstrating more night owl tendencies, people also seem to be ready to start their weekend splurging earlier in the week. Wednesdays and Thursdays were big dining-out days throughout the month of March; both had increases in reservations every hour from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. On Wednesdays, eating at restaurants went up 10% during the noon time slot and increased 13% at 1 p.m., and for Thursdays, the increases were 11% and 17% for those same times. This might have something to do with more people working remotely rather than in an office these days, but if it does, OpenTable didn't speculate.

    "We are seeing boosts in late night dining – likely spurred by seasonality and factors like warmer weather and longer daylight – and are optimistic for continued dining interest as we head into spring and summer," said Debby Soo, CEO of OpenTable, in a press release announcing the State of the Industry dashboard updates.

    Despite inflation being a thorn in the side of anyone who wants to treat themselves to dinner every now and then, that thorn can't be causing us that much pain—OpenTable's study found that 66% of U.S. diners eat out at least once a week, and 33% report eating out more than they did six months ago. That sounds about right. After all, why let an empty wallet keep me from a platter of nachos split among friends?

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