The Rise of Restaurant Subscriptions and the Entrepreneurial Spirit


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 10, 2023

4 min read


The Rise of Restaurant Subscriptions and the Entrepreneurial Spirit


In a world grappling with the challenges brought by the pandemic, restaurants have had to think outside the box to survive. One innovative approach that has gained traction is the introduction of subscriptions for bottomless coffee, beer, and even meat boxes. While these subscription services have shown promising results, the question that arises is whether this model will endure in the long run. In this article, we will explore the success stories and failures of restaurant subscriptions and delve into the underlying entrepreneurial spirit that drives such ventures.

The Emergence of Restaurant Subscriptions:

Dickey's Barbecue Pit, a well-known chain with a national presence, took a leap of faith by launching a "meat box" subscription service. This monthly service, priced between $100 to $280, offers customers a regular supply of their favorite meats. However, it's worth noting that the company only shares 5 percent of the revenues generated with its franchisees. This highlights the profit-driven nature of such subscription models.

Panera Bread followed suit with its $8.99-per-month subscription for unlimited coffee and hot tea, available every two hours. Despite not responding to multiple requests for comment, the chain managed to attract 800,000 customers, many of whom signed up through free trials. Today, Panera boasts nearly 500,000 paid subscribers, with 35 percent of coffee orders accompanied by food. This demonstrates the potential for cross-selling and upselling within the subscription model.

While success stories like Panera Bread are encouraging, there have been instances where restaurant subscriptions failed to sustain themselves. Burger King's monthly coffee subscription, initially intended to promote their breakfast menu, was discontinued within months. Similarly, Cumberland Farms' $25-a-month coffee "cupscription" met its demise just six months after its launch. These instances emphasize the need for careful planning and execution to ensure the longevity of such subscription services.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Behind Restaurant Subscriptions:

Now, let's explore the underlying entrepreneurial spirit that drives restaurants to adopt subscription models. Many people often confuse entrepreneurs with businessmen, just as they equate being rich with being wealthy. However, the key distinction lies in one word: disruption. True entrepreneurs disrupt industries by introducing innovative ideas and approaches, regardless of the business they are in.

Entrepreneurship is rooted in the deployment of a unique gift. Passion is the driving force behind true entrepreneurs, and this passion stems from a sense of purpose. Entrepreneurs are motivated by a desire to serve the world using their unique talents. This perspective sheds light on why restaurants are willing to take risks and experiment with subscription models. It's not solely about generating profits but also about delivering a valuable experience to customers and sustaining their businesses in uncertain times.

The Future of Restaurant Subscriptions:

Considering the success stories and failures of restaurant subscriptions, it is evident that this model has the potential to thrive if approached strategically. Here are three actionable pieces of advice for restaurants looking to venture into the subscription landscape:

  • 1. Understand Your Customers: Before launching a subscription service, conduct thorough market research to gauge the demand for such offerings. Understand your customers' preferences, their willingness to pay, and the value they seek from a subscription.
  • 2. Create Value Beyond the Subscription: While unlimited coffee or food may be enticing, ensure there are additional benefits and experiences exclusive to subscribers. Consider offering discounts, personalized recommendations, or even special events to keep subscribers engaged and loyal.
  • 3. Focus on Seamless Execution: The success of a subscription model relies heavily on operational efficiency. Ensure that your staff, supply chain, and technology systems are capable of delivering a seamless and consistent experience to subscribers. Any hiccups or delays can diminish the perceived value and result in customer churn.


Restaurant subscriptions have emerged as a creative solution for businesses navigating the challenges posed by the pandemic. While some ventures have found success, others have faltered due to various reasons. Understanding the entrepreneurial spirit behind these subscriptions sheds light on the underlying motivations and aspirations of restaurant owners. By considering customer demands, delivering additional value, and focusing on seamless execution, restaurants can increase their chances of sustaining and growing their subscription models. Ultimately, the future of restaurant subscriptions lies in the hands of entrepreneurs who are willing to disrupt the industry and serve their customers with passion and purpose.

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