- Waitr CEO Chris Meaux announced Monday that the company will start delivering alcohol in the coming weeks following the passage of two Louisiana laws that permit alcohol delivery to homes, according to WAFB9.
- One bill allows liquor retailers to deliver factory-sealed bottles while the second bill allows the delivery of low-alcoholic content beverages to be delivered by restaurants, grocery stores, third-parties and others, according to The Advocate. Restaurants and grocery stores that deliver direct will have to pay a $250 permit while third-parties will have to pay $500 in permits. Both bills require that deliveries be made to residencies with the exception of schools and colleges.
- Drivers are required to be W-2 employees, versus independent contractors, must carry a special server's permit and check IDs upon delivery, according to WAFB9. They are also given the ability to refuse service to customers if they're too intoxicated.
Waitr wasted no time committing to this new option, with Meaux stating that the company looks forward to helping restaurants grow their businesses even further.
Indeed, alcohol sales are a boon to the bottom line, and offering delivery could provide that added boost. According to Nielsen data, U.S. bars and restaurants generate 60.5% of their average weekly sales from happy hour, even though the daypart accounts for 15 hours of the total business week. The average happy hour check in the U.S. is about $69, roughly $8 more than the average check. As delivery sales pick up across the industry, it's a no-brainer that operators would want to include this major part of their business and the permits to do so only cost $250 for restaurants.
That cost, however, doesn't include the added resources and labor that will go into such a service. Drivers tasked with delivering alcohol have to undergo additional training, for example, such as verifying customers' ages. They also have to be W-2 employees, which benefits Waitr since its already classifies its employees as such versus most delivery companies that employ independent contractors. If alcohol delivery takes off, this employee classification could provide an advantage for Waitr over competitors Grubhub and DoorDash, which already deliver alcohol in select regions, or Instacart, which delivers alcohol from grocery stores.
The one-stop food/drink option will also provide Waitr and the like with an advantage over alcohol-delivery-specific apps like Drizly and Saucey which have been on the market for years.
As food-on-demand becomes more ubiquitous, there's no reason to believe alcohol-on-demand won't become a bigger part of the narrative, as well, especially as bigger players like Pizza Hut, Buffalo Wild Wings, TGI Fridays and BJ's Restaurant explore the option. Operators might have a few initial concerns, such as whether or not such a service will compromise in-restaurant or impulse sales. There is also a number of logistics to figure out; how much alcohol is too much for delivery, for example, and disparate regulations depending on jurisdiction and state. But for the most part, any opportunity to add high-margin alcohol sales could be a benefit for restaurants and their third-party delivery companies as well.