Fast Food Chains Seek to Bring Back Customers with Alcohol

Burger King wants to serve booze alongside its Whopper cheeseburgers at another of its locations in New York City—a bold move for the burger chain and a clear sign that your favorite fast food joints are increasingly looking to add alcohol to their menus.

Fast food companies are trying to reinvent themselves in order to compete more effectively against fast-casual restaurants such as Panera Bread Company, which generally offer more choices and customization in ordering. Same-store sales at McDonald’s, in particular, have been shrinking for several quarters in a row now.


But aside from Chipotle Mexican Grill and their margaritas, most fast food is a dry affair. The industry needs new ideas to stay competitive, and alcohol offers a unique opportunity to stay ahead of the curve.

More and more, fast food giants such as Burger King and Taco Bell are testing how consumers respond to the option of buying beer with their burgers. Burger King already offers beer at one of its downtown Manhattan locations, and in a few in the United Kingdom.

Burger King isn’t the only fast food chain flirting with putting alcohol on its menu. Several new Taco Bell restaurants in Canada will offer beer this summer when they open as a way to test consumer interest in the sudsy beverage. The concept is akin to the few “cantina” style Taco Bells in the United States, which already offer alcoholic drinks. The hope is that adding booze to the menu will encourage people to sit in the restaurants longer and, of course, spend more money. There’s even been talk of serving margaritas at a Canadian location.

Adding liquor to the menu is no easy task, due to the many legal restrictions. No underage employees are allowed to handle the alcohol, creating an extra layer of in-store regulation that managers are responsible for. Such drinks also must be consumed on the premise of the restaurants and in clear cups only. Customers are not permitted to take the drinks to-go. (Though there are some areas of the US, including New Orleans, where customers can take open alcohol containers onto the street.)

Even if individual restaurants are prepared to oversee and manage the complications of having a liquor license, obtaining one remains a hurdle. In New York City, for instance, Burger King’s request will fall to a state liquor authority board, which processes many requests at any given time.

Whether the new Burger King request will be approved remains to be seen. But if booze is added to more fast food menus, expect your favorite quick-serve burger joint to become a new happy hour contender.

via Fast-food chains have discovered what will bring customers back: alcohol — Quartz

6 thoughts on “Fast Food Chains Seek to Bring Back Customers with Alcohol

  1. I don’t think this is going to work. Why would I pay more in Burger King for a beer when I can just head to the liquor store or the grocery store and pay less for it and don’t have to worry about drinking and driving and getting pulled over? And why no one has said anything about how this encourages drinking and driving, I don’t know.

    Also, they can ask restaurants that already offer alcohol how they’re doing and they’ll tell ’em, not that good because there are special offers and deep discounts to go around and then some among those restaurants that are already serving alcoholic beverages. People simply don’t have the money to dine out and alcohol being served is not going to change that fact. So, they can just scrap that dumb idea. And keep this comment bookmarked, because it is going to be a case of, “I toldya so!”


    • In reading your comment, Shelby, I get quite a comical image of a rancher in a pick-up pulling up to a drive-by window and ordering a large beer or a double whiskey. I honestly can’t see how a local authority could approve this type of liquor license unless alcohol service is limited to walk-ins. I guess we wait and see how corrupt they are.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gerard, If Burgerking is doing in Canada, Manhattan and the UK (as it says in the article), it’s only a matter of time before they try it in Australia and New Zealand. I don’t know about Australia, but Burgerking is quite big in New Zealand. I can’t wait for the Council meeting where they try to get a liquor license in New Plymouth. We have a strong alcohol harm reduction coalition here, and we’ll pack the Council chambers.


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