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Restaurants are testing out subscription plans, but are the savings worth it?

The new trend in dining out

Savvy marketers have always rewarded customers for their loyalty. Frequent flier miles are one obvious way to get a customer's repeat business. Another, that is becoming increasingly popular in every sector, from apps to entertainment, is offering a subscription plan. The latest player to join in the fun is the restaurant industry. Now, you can subscribe to your favorite restaurant. But what exactly do you get, and is it worth it?

How does a restaurant subscription service work?

More and more, subscriptions are becoming the standard business model. People get TV, music and books through subscription services. Movie theaters, gyms, websites and retailers offer subscriptions as well. It makes sense that the restaurant industry, which was hit so hard by COVID-19, would follow suit to offer loyal customers rewards for repeat business.

While the specifics of each restaurant's subscription service vary, the general idea is regular diners at a particular chain will receive perks for pledging loyalty through a subscription program. This could be anything from no delivery fees to unlimited beverages and more.

Which restaurants are currently participating in this new model?

While many local restaurants have been doing this for a while, they haven't been able to create the media buzz that Panera and P.F. Chang's have generated. Panera’s Unlimited Sip Club costs $11.99 per month or $119.99 per year. A subscription entitles you to unlimited free coffees, teas, Charged Lemonades, fountain beverages and Sip Club Saturday offers. Customers who opt for the annual plan also get $0 delivery fees and a free Shutterfly calendar.

If P.F. Chang's is your restaurant of choice, there are two reward tiers: Gold and Platinum. While the Gold option is free, it allows you to earn points for dining and receive a complimentary birthday dessert or appetizer. The Platinum membership is just $6.99, and it features free delivery, priority reservation options and double points on every order.

Can a restaurant subscription really save you money?

According to a Statista survey from last year, over 60% of Americans are already spending at least $10 per month getting coffee. If you live near a Panera or pass one on your morning commute, subscribing to the Unlimited Sip Club could potentially save you a great deal of money.

Best food delivery services

If you do not want to travel to a restaurant, there are several meal delivery services and meat delivery services available. Each has a subscription plan.


Nutrisystem offers a functional meal service. You can subscribe to help meet your dietary and overall health goals.

Sold by Nutrisystem


At Freshology, you can choose from four different menus: balance menu, balance diabetes menu, keto carb30 menu or vegetarian.

Sold by Freshology

Splendid Spoon

Splendid Spoon is focused on bringing you plant-based, gluten-free meals. There are over 65 meals to choose from with this service. 

Sold by Splendid Spoon

Purple Carrot

A Purple Carrot subscription gets you plant-based recipes that come with all the needed ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions.

Sold by Purple Carrot

Farm Foods Market

If you love meat, Farm Foods Market gives you your choice of beef, lamb, chicken, pork and seafood. All food is organically sourced.

Sold by Farm Foods Market

Crowd Cow

Crowd Cow is more like a matchmaker than a meat delivery service. It connects customers to independent ranchers for choice selections of beef, chicken, pork and seafood.  

Sold by Crowd Cow

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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