The recently-launched 24-hour tube in London has quickly been dubbed as a key player in economic growth for the capital. With no ‘last tube home’ on weekends, consumers are expected to increasingly use the many entertainment services the city has to offer far into the night. The first thing that may come to mind when we think of a 24-hour tube is clubbing, but it’s not just the entertainment industry that will reap the rewards of the extended service hours. One key reason consumers will use the late-night tube is to go out for food whenever they fancy it – in fact, Time Out lists post-midnight feasts as one of three main reasons to use the night tube.
Explaining the changes, Transport for London says, “London is already a 24-hour city, and thanks to the huge investment to modernise the Underground, we are now rolling out a 24-hour Tube to match.” The new services will allow passengers to travel between central London and the outskirts every eight to twenty minutes all night long, and as fares will be charged and normal off-peak times, late-night travel will be a very appealing option both to extravagant and money-saving consumers.
GQ has already published a Night Tube Guide telling consumers about the best places to eat, drink and dance in London after-hours, proving that the 24-hour tube is set to attract millions of patrons to restaurants and bars in the small hours. In the article, they give their line-up of the best venues on the night tube map, from the Duck & Waffle restaurant for late-night quality meals to early morning pancakes at Polo Bar. A report by Volterra estimates that the introduction of the night tube will lead to an additional 1,965 permanent jobs alongside an output of £80 million a year for the capital.
Eat Out Magazine has urged the food sector to begin taking advantage of the night tube immediately. They report that the Asian Catering Federation chairman, Yawar Khan, claims:
“Many restaurants open every lunchtime, but rarely see a customer because of a lack of demand or the failure to offer lighter, less spicy dishes preferred at midday. They would do better by opening later at night or offering breakfast.”
As Big Hospitality reports, even in the first month of the night tube service, online reservation site Bookatable recounted a 13 per cent increase in table bookings for restaurants on weekends when the 24-hour serve was in action. They say, “Over 100,000 people used the Night Tube in its first 48 hours, and Transport for London expects the number to rise to 200,000 per weekend by the end of the year.”
Five ways a 24-hour tube could change consumers' dining habits
Increased numbers of visitors at later hours is an obvious outcome of the night tube roll-out, but it is likely that consumer behaviours, too, will change. Exactly how is yet to be seen, but the possibilities are many.
1. Consumers often choose not to eat out after realising they’re looking to eat too near to kitchen closing time, but without these restrains, couples and groups alike are far more likely to book tables in even high-end establishments throughout the evening.
2. We can expect to see a diversification of post-night out eating choices for groups of friends, requiring various restaurants to offer easy, hearty late-night dishes no matter what their menu style.
3. Consumers eating late at night may also prefer a casual eating experience, opting for sharing platters and small plates rather than refined dining.
4. Restaurants are also likely to see a rise in business from late-night diners who are looking for a healthier alternative to the fast-food eateries traditionally operating in the small hours.
5. The tube will also serve late weekend workers, who may opt to take a quick meal out after their shift rather than cook at home late at night. Therefore quick yet satisfying and wholesome dishes for solo diners are likely to prosper.
All of these trends and more must be harnessed by restaurants in order to make the most of the immense opportunity that the 24-hour tube surely presents.