Fast casual restaurants like Five Guys and Chipotle are known for their premium food and contemporary décor.
But many of these brands have discovered a way to not only distinguish themselves from their fast-food counterparts but also pull in business from fine dining and other establishments – and that’s by putting beer, wine and liquor right on the menu.
Up until recently, QSRs in Europe were the only fast casuals allowed to sell booze. Here in the U.S., strict laws, local politics, watchdog groups and more conservative mindsets have kept liquor licenses out of the hands of many fast casual owners.
There’s an important reason alcohol on the menu at a fast casual restaurant makes sense. It’s good for business.
The National Restaurant Association recently pointed out that alcohol could help to lure affluent customers, even in a fast casual environment. With high-margin alcohol sales, owners of these establishments could see big dividends by giving beer, wine and liquor offerings a chance.
Let’s take a look at a few of the fast casuals leading the alcohol-laden charge.

And the list continues to grow…
If you own or otherwise run a fast casual restaurant, here is why you might want to consider following in these major brands’ footsteps.
It’s Profitable: Due to the high-margin potential of beer, wine, and alcohol, putting booze on the menu can significantly increase your bottom line.
Attracts the Budget-Conscious Yet Refined Consumer: Millennials like to stick to their budgets, but they don’t always want to stick to fast food. They want a more upscale environment paired with quality food. Members of this generation also love their alcohol, and are more likely to experiment with different kinds of drinks.
Draws More Customers Into Your Dining Room: A fast casual dine-in can get more business flowing inside during happy hour and late night.
Eliminates the Veto Vote: By adding alcohol to the menu, fast casuals won’t just steal back quick service customers, but they’ll gain those customers who would otherwise choose not to dine somewhere that doesn’t serve alcohol.
The lesson is clear. For fast casual owners looking to lure more affluent and post-recession customers, making an investment in a liquor license and an extensive beverage menu is an option worth considering.