Pre-pandemic, it may have been a given that Friday and Saturday nights were your peak times for guests. The past few years have thrown such assumptions up in the air as consumers have shifted their working hours and workplaces. As a result, your biggest happy hour crowd may have shifted to early evenings on Wednesday and Thursday. Your business lunch crowd may instead be coming for breakfast or a late-afternoon snack. During a recent discussion with veteran restaurant operators and industry experts that was organized by Nation’s Restaurant News and its CREATE educational program, participants acknowledged the shift. Victor Fernandez, vice president of insights and knowledge at Black Box, said the fastest-growing time of day is late afternoon between lunch and dinner. This blending of dayparts can be both a blessing and a curse for operators: Blurred lines between meals mean that consumers may crave a range of food and drink at all times and it’s always a good time to visit a restaurant. On the other hand, the lack of definition makes it difficult for operators to know how to plan and what to offer. It’s more important than ever to understand how your guests use your physical restaurant at every hour and how profitable they make your business per square foot during the times they are with you. Having this knowledge will help you know if and how to scale down your menu, staff or hours if business slows in the months ahead. At a time when consumers expect a lot from restaurants, understand where you’re best able to provide it and where you need to draw the line.