Huntsville’s first pandemic-focused food & beverage survey uncovers surprising trends


HUNTSVILLE, Alabama, Nov. 30, 2020 – A recent survey conducted by two local marketing agencies and in sponsorship with Downtown Huntsville, Inc. uncovers surprising results when it comes to local dining preferences during the pandemic.

The survey, produced by the Bold Agency and The Library Of, ran from October 26th to November 26th and received over 520 anonymous responses. It was distributed through multiple platforms including social media and direct email. 

The goal of the survey was to get feedback on how people prefer to dine during the pandemic in order to help guide restaurants in their business and marketing decisions. “We wanted to provide restaurants with real responses from the community,” says Lauren Gowins from Bold Agency “ businesses can lose valuable time and resources if they simply assume what diners are wanting right now”. The survey uncovered that 63% of respondents are working from home full or part-time while only 36% are back in the office everyday. This shows that restaurants should still be considering how they accommodate people who are primarily home for most meals.

“Our goal is to continue creating an ecosystem for Downtown businesses to thrive, ” says Chad Emerson with Downtown Huntsville, Inc. “The feedback from this survey gives these businesses crucial insights to best serve their customers moving forward.”

When asked about their preferred method of dining, an overwhelming 65% of respondents prefer to-go or curbside pickup over the 25% who prefer to dine-in. However, careful consideration should still be taken to ensure patrons feel safe and comfortable when dining in. For example, when asked about what pandemic protocols are most important to them, ‘wearing masks’ gained 84% of the popular vote over gloves, disposable plates & utensils, and having sanitizer available. Using disposable utensils was very low on consumers’ minds. In fact, less than 20% found it as an important safety measure which could save businesses money by focusing less on pricy disposable utensils and more on disposable menus which 35% of respondents prefer when it comes to viewing a restaurant’s menu. This response was chosen over QR codes, online PDFs, or laminated/sanitized menus. 

When looking at the overall survey responses, a very important consideration was how important outdoor dining is for respondents in choosing where to eat. When asked what respondents most prefer when choosing a place to dine-in for lunch, 54% chose ‘Outdoor Dining Options’ over lunch discounts or fast service. In addition, 28% of respondents filled in ‘Other’ when asked about what pandemic protocol is most important to them with a majority specifying outdoor dining. 

From the survey results, it’s clear that a majority of the respondents are still cautious when it comes to choosing how they dine. As the end of the year approaches, businesses and city officials need to consider how to best accommodate diners going forward. When asked if a designated curbside pick up zone would encourage respondents to eat Downtown, 55% said yes. Chad Emerson will begin working with city officials to create a designated curbside pick up zone within the Downtown area.

“We know our downtown small businesses care about their customers and want to give them a great experience in a safe environment,” says Phil Woodall of The Library Of. “We hope this survey gives them the insights they need to make that job a little easier.”

For more information on the results of this survey, please email hi@theboldagency.co with your request.