Restaurants Merge with Retail

New food spending trends have driven the traditional restaurant model to evolve, and as the line between restaurants and food retailers grows thinner, the competition gets more intense.

Some business owners in the U.S. are attempting to combat this by combining multiple channels and expanding their offerings. Establishments like Saturday’s NYC, whose SoHo flagship boasts an espresso bar in addition to clothing; and NYC’s The Blind Barber, which offers haircuts in the front and a cocktail bar in the back, are just two such examples.  


If you’re thinking about making the jump from restaurant to retail, here are some things to consider:

- Spend time brainstorming what would be complementary to your business. What are some common and shared interests among your customer base? Ratio Coffee & Cycle, with several locations in Tokyo, sells bike supplies in addition to hosting a full coffee bar. It’s a great gathering place for people with common interests to hang out, talk about their hobby, and shop.

-With the rise in popularity of cooking at home, consider selling pieces of your experience for customers to recreate on their way out. Momofuku Milk Bar accomplishes this by selling pre-mixed cookie mixes so customers can make their treats at home. If you have a signature, easy-to-replicate item with a special ingredient, consider selling the recipe and instructions and pre-packaging it for customers to make and share at home.

-Consider what’s available in your area. If you’re near a popular tourist destination, it’s okay to start small by selling fun t-shirts, koozies, etc. in the theme of the area or your restaurant (who doesn’t want a souvenir?)


This model has best results when starting with a more casual dining atmosphere with strong brand affinity. If people are in a relaxed environment and paying a fair price for their meal, they may be more inclined to splurge a little for the experience and retail offerings.