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Survey: 55% of New Yorkers Would Be Interested in Restaurant Subscriptions

Ruth Shin

Ruth Shin

The shutdown in response to Covid-19 has had a negative impact on businesses everywhere and especially caused the permanent closing of restaurants in New York City. Restaurants may have to adapt in order to survive. Find out how many New Yorkers are interested in an idea like subscriptions.
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The lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that many businesses and especially restaurants in New York City have had to close their doors. For some, that’s meant permanent closure.

Surprisingly, even highly successful restaurants have not been immune to this phenomena. While some may have closed due to lack of funds, others have decided to shutter for good just because they may no longer view restaurants as a sustainable business with the current economic climate.

If the restaurant industry fails or falters in New York City it could mean serious consequences to the local economy.

Restaurants are an intrinsic piece woven into the fabric of the city and city life.

PropertyNest wanted to explore if residents would be willing to support restaurants following a different model, if it meant possibly helping a business sustain itself during hard times.

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Survey Highlights

PropertyNest asked:

“If you live in New York City, which reason would you be willing to pay a monthly subscription to your favorite neighborhood restaurant(s) for?”

  • Most respondents supported the idea of a monthly subscription to a neighborhood restaurant they frequent. 55% were interested in the idea. 45% of all respondents were not at all interested in this subscription model.
  • Women were more likely not to have the money for this idea, although interested. Affordability was an issue for 16% of respondents, of which women made up 62%.
  • Women were also more likely, in general, to be not interested in the idea at all. Female respondents made up 54% of those uninterested compared to men who made up 46%.
  • The subscription model was most popular with respondents ages 18-24. Only about 34% of participants in this age group were not interested at all, but they also made up the largest percentage of respondents not able to afford this.
  • While the age group with the least interest were those older than 65, at 55% of them being uninterested. But the same age group was also more sympathetic to restaurants, as they also made up the largest percentage of those who wanted to keep the restaurants alive.
  • The majority of respondents in favor of this idea wanted to receive multiple perks while supporting a local business at just over 19%.
  • 5% of the respondents were interested in subscribing solely to help keep the business(es) alive. Out of the four reasons given to subscribe, the most popular one was for discounted or free food or drinks at 9% respondents followed by those wanting to support the business.

The survey finds that over half of New York respondents would be interested in an idea like restaurant subscriptions, not just for the perks but also to help the business survive during hard times.

4.6% of respondents were solely interested in free food delivery, which could be significant for restaurants. Many of those establishments surviving on food deliveries over the past few months have seen their profits further cut into by services like Seamless, DoorDash, and Grubhub just to name a few.

The results also corroborate what we’ve seen in other PropertyNest studies in regards to the income gapbetween men and women. Women were far more likely to not be able to pay the rent during the past months of lockdown. This survey reveals also that women were more likely to not be able to afford to pay a subscription. Income inequality could also directly have an influence over women more likely to not be interested, period.

The Changing Landscape of the Restaurant Industry

Ask any New Yorker. Access to a variety of great restaurants and food establishments is one of the main perks of living in New York City. A highly competitive business environment means that only the best restaurants survive.

However, the unprecedented and unforeseen event of monthslong closures of brick and mortar businesses has had a devastating impact on restaurants all over the city and country. Governor. Andrew Cuomo recently announced the reopening of indoor dining in the five boroughs, but this is too little too late for many. Currently, it’s unknown exactly how many restaurants have actually had to close their doors for good due to business loss of the pandemic shutdown.

Just based on the sheer number of restaurants in New York City and many of their simultaneous closings, it may be a long time before we fully know exactly how many food industry businesses were devastated by the restrictions.

The pandemic has not only transformed the landscape of the restaurant industry by mass closures but also has forced many food establishments to completely change the model in which they operate.

Many restaurants during the pandemic started thinking outside the box by adjusting their menus, offering picnic, birthday, or grocery boxes, as well as care packages.

Subscriptions are not a brand new idea, although not fully realized or explored during the past few months. Panera started a pilot program over the last winter offering free unlimited coffee for subscribers paying $8.99/month.

Furthermore, subscription meal-kits such as Hello Fresh and Blue Apron are extremely popular.

Pre-existing to the coronavirus pandemic, a rising popularity among the very rich was exclusive members-only high-end restaurants, which usually included hefty initiation fees as well as annual dues.

This idea could be adjusted to fit the needs and interests of the 99%.

Dining member subscriptions could actually help food establishments to create reserves or further investment in their own businesses. The idea could further be expanded by offering different plans, much like the way Netflix and Hulu offer different plan tiers.

Survey Methodology

PropertyNest conducted an online survey among New York residents on reasons they might subscribe to a favorite neighborhood restaurant. 1,001 respondents ages 18 and older participated with a margin of error of +/- 1.8%.

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