Thirty-three million Americans are expected to celebrate the Easter holiday by dining out, according to new research from the National Restaurant Association. Lunch and dinner are the most popular meals for Easter celebrations, and when it comes to must-have food, more than half of consumers say they will be looking for an Easter buffet on April 24.
"Buffets will be popular options for Easter diners this year, as they provide a variety of food options to fit anyone's dietary needs and preferences," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. "Restaurants planning their Easter menus should consider both traditional offerings, including baked ham and deviled eggs, as well as new twists on those dishes, such as ethnic flavors and health-conscious versions, to appeal to today's increasingly sophisticated diner."
Overall, 14 percent of adults said they plan to celebrate the holiday with a special meal at a restaurant. 46 percent of those are planning a special Easter lunch at a restaurant, while 44 percent will enjoy a meal at dinner time. In addition, 29 percent of individuals visiting a restaurant for an Easter meal are planning to dine out for brunch, while 21 percent said they are going out for breakfast. Seventeen percent are planning to have more than one meal at a restaurant on Easter Sunday.
The survey also asked if consumers are looking for any "must-have" food items for their Easter meal at a restaurant. Fifty-one percent of those dining out for Easter this year said their must-have option is a buffet; 39 percent said they have to have ham, 37 percent said pastries are on their list of must-haves, and 27 percent said eggs. Lamb was less popular among the list of must-have food items at 7 percent.
When it comes to factors involved in choosing a restaurant on Easter Sunday, diners are most likely to choose their favorite restaurant, regardless of Easter specials, for their special holiday meal (48 percent). Sixteen percent of Easter diners said they would choose a restaurant with holiday specials or menu items, while 13 percent said they would choose a restaurant that they haven't been to before.
Food and activities for children were the deciding factor for nearly one out of five Easter diners. Fourteen percent said they would likely choose a restaurant with Easter-related activities for kids, such as egg painting or egg hunting. Meanwhile, four percent of Easter diners said their most important factor in choosing a restaurant for their Easter meal was a restaurant with great kids' menu options.
The National Restaurant Association surveyed 1,000 American adults April 7-10 about their plans for Easter 2011. The estimate of 33 million Americans dining out this Easter is based on economic analysis and projections, as well as research conducted over the last two decades.
Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 960,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a work force of nearly 13 million employees. Together with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, the Association works to lead America's restaurant industry into a new era of prosperity, prominence, and participation, enhancing the quality of life for all we serve. For more information, visit our Web site at www.restaurant.org.