It’s Friday night and it’s raining hard. Your restaurant has a patio, but it’s clearly not going to bring in the usual weekend numbers. A couple has braved the weather and are having drinks at the bar, and some of the regulars are sitting around, but it looks like the kitchen might not be as busy as you’d anticipated. If only there was a way to get your food to people who wanted it.
Wait, it’s 2016 – and where there’s demand, there’s an app! Food takeout and delivery apps are popping up all over major urban centers and are a far cry from the ways of ordering-in a decade ago.
Takeout & Delivery Has Evolved
Pre-iPhone, the solution to hunger at home was to call the closest place that offered delivery and wait for the on-staff driver to get through his route to the destination. If the customer lived outside the delivery radius, or the neighborhood didn’t have any places that offered delivery – too bad. And, restaurants had to set up their own delivery system, meaning the options were limited, and the onus was on the customer to initiate the transaction.
The new breed of food delivery apps present endless options to customers with a couple of swipes and the tap of a button or two. Everything from gourmet food, healthy fare, and trendy snacks, to classic burgers, and international cuisines, are literally at the tip of a finger. Whatever the craving, there’s an app that gives customers access to it.
So what are these apps and how are they making the most of modern mobility? Let’s explore:
Toronto’s Ritual takeout app is expanding into Chicago, due to their overwhelming popularity amongst busy urbanites. The customer searches a list of possible restaurants within walking distance and chooses a menu item. Using geo-location and estimated travel time, the customer is prompted when it’s time to leave, so they’ll arrive right when their order is up. Since the payment is handled through the app, the customer can walk up to the counter, grab their order and leave. All payment is handled through the app, so no waiting whatsoever. The restaurant doesn’t have to worry about long lines or disappointed customers, but can amp up the pace and deal with demand.
From Foodora’s bike couriers to UberEATS delivery drivers and DoorDash’s anything goes (car, motorcycles, scooters, bikes, even walking is accepted), a system of independent contractors criss-cross cities to pick up orders from hundreds of restaurants and deliver to eager eaters every day. By making it easy for restaurants to become partners, and because delivery apps are easy to use and deliver swift sustenance, they’ve quickly become the norm. Whether bad weather, Netflix night, or overtime at work, people don’t need to leave their location to get the food they desire, and restaurants can reach people that would have previously been unaware of their establishment.
Delivery Only Restaurants
Restaurateur and celebrity chef David Chang is a trend setter in the restaurant space. He’s essentially responsible for ramen becoming the closest thing foodies have to an organized sport. His newest venture is a delivery-only restaurant called Ando, which opened this year. He also backed the Manhattan-based delivery restaurant Maple in 2015. With both Ando and Maple, the menu changes daily, and there are no tables or chairs. The no-dining restaurant isn’t a novel idea, though. Munchery, which launched in 2011, is now in ten states and offers meals created by in-house chefs. And Savory, another delivery-only restaurant caters to corporate clients and provides office workers with fresh food created by top New York City chefs.
Takeout and delivery apps may differ slightly in their approach, but the underlying principle is to get great food to hungry customers.
What this Means for Restaurateurs
For customers, the basics of ordering have essentially stayed the same: Pick up phone, choose food, wait for delivery. But for restaurant owners, the new technology thankfully means a new system. You no longer have to mail takeout menus, wait for the phone to ring, make the food, then send it out with one of your employed drivers. Now you can simply sign up for the takeout and delivery apps in your area, upload your menu, and an independent delivery person will drop off outgoing orders. All the money is collected through the app, so you can do what you do best – create delicious meals for your customers!
Takeout and delivery apps offer another major benefit for restaurateurs: they literally put your business on the map. Once listed on local food apps, your establishment is presented to users who may not have known you exist, or didn’t think of your restaurant as an option for lunch or dinner. With the increase of apps bridging the gap between restaurant and customer, being tucked away on a quiet street doesn’t mean that you can’t be the busiest restaurant in your city, or at the least in your neighborhood.
Takeout and delivery apps are here to stay. By leveraging the ones most popular in your area, you can increase your restaurant’s visibility and profits. To maximize your presence on these apps, be sure to optimize your menu options for easy portability and quick delivery (think watertight soup containers and spill-proof packaging), and upload great photos that present your food in a realistic, yet mouthwatering way.
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About the Author
Andrea is a Content Marketing Specialist and Editor at TouchBistro where she writes about restaurant and dining trends, restaurant management, and food culture. A self-affirmed food geek, Andrea devours cookbooks and food blogs. She also knows how to make a killer kale salad.More Content by Andrea Victory