Observe a full guide on developing and promoting a restaurant management app for your business from A to Z.

How to Create a Restaurant App: Trends, Features, and Pro Tips to Adopt

These days many industries enhance and grow their business by launching different applications. With their help, entrepreneurs can manage their inventory and orders, process payments, and view analytics. Restaurants are not the exception. So it really makes sense to create a restaurant app to reach out for your customers.

Restaurant software development can bring you multiple benefits in terms of simplified internal order fulfillment, easier loyalty programs, and more sales. Restaurant applications will assist with simplifying and speeding up onboarding, comparing best practices at numerous destinations, and controlling workflow.

If you wonder how to create a restaurant app, you have come to the right place. In this post, OpenGeeksLab has put together all actionable tips to build your own restaurant application seamlessly and hassle-free. Our team possesses more than six years of a proven track record in software engineering, so we deliver intuitive solutions for your business.

OpenGeeksLab is experienced in delivering restaurant app development services. Thus, we have launched an on-demand delivery platform for the restaurants and other niches. Lezzoo allows ordering meals, pharmacy, cosmetics, laundry, dog walking services, and even gas plain sailing. So, if you’re about to create a restaurant app, try out this hands-on guide.

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How to Define Restaurant App and Its Categories

Here’s how we would define restaurant apps. Look at the primary features and categories of these applications.

Most large chain restaurants wouldn’t survive if they didn’t create a restaurant app. Restaurant application software refers to mobile software designed to support a specific restaurant concept or manage a restaurant chain. Apps from this development category are usually based on an original website.

These tools with online ordering functionality gained popularity during the pandemic when social distancing became a new norm and still remain very sought-after. Such software usually offers info like bonuses and promotions, loyalty points, gifts, and more to attract new clients and retain old customers.

If you wonder how to create a restaurant app that will bring you a stable income, consider implementing some fancy functionality along with the most necessary features. To get things right, you can check the industry leaders and discover which functionality their apps have. For example, Starbucks launched a mobile app that satisfies 63% of their users. You definitely have something to learn from them

Another great example is a small restaurant chain Boston’s Flour Bakery. Their management application enables clients to gain bonuses and exchange them for something valuable.

Here are the available restaurant app development categories:

Restaurant-Locator Apps

If customers are looking for a restaurant sitting in the office/car or hanging out, they’ll benefit from using this development category. These applications are especially beneficial for users who attend new cities and decide to have a meal. The major advantage of these apps is that they allow users to navigate a certain area and discover available restaurants and cafes next to them.

To have an idea of how to build a restaurant app, look at OpenTable, Yelp, or Urbanspoon. Restaurant locators should offer detailed descriptions of how users can get to the place. These tools are excellent development solutions thanks to geofencing.

If you decide to build such an app, ensure that restaurants mobile app developers provide regular updates since new locations are appearing regularly. Another good idea is adding their working hours.

Restaurant Booking App

Gone are the days when people had to rely on their best guess when going to a restaurant. Would they have some free seats? Customers could have a phone call, but many of them find this method tiring. No one likes being put in the waiting line. Restaurant reservation apps are the solution. Mind that when you create a restaurant app.

Clients can reserve any seat they prefer, being sure that no one will occupy it even if they’re late. Choosing a restaurant and time is enough to get rid of that headache. Some examples involve BigDish, Tock, and Quandoo.

At-Table Ordering and Payment Apps

Restaurant app development can incorporate digitized menus as a practical and effective solution to address the challenges posed by pandemics. Now customers can view the menu by scanning a QR code on their mobile gadgets. After that, its digitized version will be available for them. This development solution simplifies the ordering process and makes it more convenient for both parties.

Another benefit of such apps is that customers can use them to pay for their meal. PepperHQ and RitualOne may come in handy.

Online Ordering/Delivery Apps

Takeout is another popular way to get our meals along with ordering delivery to your doorstep. We can say that this app development category is the most popular due to the current situation in our world. Developing a website or app like that makes sense. Most often, pizza houses and fast-food restaurants benefit from using such software.

Online ordering apps such as Domino’s Pizza have become popular owing to their fast delivery.

The growing number of customers wanting to get their favorite dishes delivered at their doorstep is another strong reason to create a restaurant app. Some of them even offer monetary compensation if they come late.

Restaurant Menu App

With this tool, customers can get instant access to the menu by allowing them to scan the QR code. Besides, by adding photos of the dishes, descriptions of wines, and offering some recommendations, you will be able to showcase your offerings.

Implementation of the latest technologies such as Artificial Intelligence for analytics will provide you with valuable insights that will help you understand your customers and their wants and needs better and make more informed decisions.

You may follow the lead of Rhino Coffee app and launch a solution for smartphones where all dishes in the menu and available locations are showcased.


Loyalty Programs and Rewards Apps

While focusing on new customers, restaurants risk losing their loyal clients. That’s why customer retention rate matters. The food industry is full of companies, and they compete sharply in restaurant app development. That’s when you may step in with your brand new promotional and loyalty program app!

By specifying information about all your discounts and special offers in a separate app, you can save consumers’ time, which may result in increased customer satisfaction, and, consequently, growing sales. Once again, we would like to recall Starbucks as they do an amazing job in terms of retaining customers. Their native app is the leader when it comes to loyalty programs.

Review Apps

Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool for attracting new clients using restaurant app development. Positive feedback may boost any business. In the restaurant industry, both textual and video reviews matter, especially when done by gurus. Restaurants should allow leaving testimonials in a simple way. Review applications usually include fields where customers can write comments and put ratings.

Given that, it would be a great idea to build an application similar to TripAdvisor where all information about various restaurants and visitor’s reviews will be published. You can also compare prices there.

Thus, while some development apps are great for combining plenty of places onto one system and facilitating online ordering processes for pickup and delivery, others help people find their favorite places based on design.

When building a restaurant app, you may choose one particular category or combine the functionality of several types of applications. The most important thing there is seamless integration with your restaurant’s tech.

Now that you know what types of restaurant apps you can build, let’s discuss the main benefits of the partnership with a company offering restaurant app development services.

How You Can Benefit from Creating a Restaurant App

Discover the main reasons to create a restaurant app and things that will bring this type of business to success.

To start with, let’s discuss the main challenges a native restaurant management app can fix:

  • Uneven customer turnover. Most restaurant owners prove that they have issues associated with uneven client turnover. More seats mean more costs on inventory and labor. Keeping business afloat means having enough clients to occupy all tables daily. At the same time, having a limited amount of seats may prevent a restaurant from serving more clients, making a lower profit. In case a cafe or restaurant has a management application, these problems can be solved as these solutions allow booking seats ahead and incentivize last-minute bookings with generous discounts.
  • Long and tiring wait times. Waiting is annoying. Most people that visit restaurants are people of business who realize that time is money. That is when a restaurant may benefit from a pre-ordering website. It allows receiving meals and beverages as soon as possible. Apart from that, consider adding table reservation functionality when discussing must-have app features with restaurant mobile app developers. With its help, clients can avoid long queues and get a table booked at any time.
  • Losing clients. The insufficient amount of tables or wait staff during rush hours can result in customer churn. That’s when delivery services apps save the day. According to the data by eMarketer, such apps are used by over 20% of US mobile customers.

All those challenges can be successfully solved by building a custom restaurant app with eye-catching and user-friendly design and diverse functionality. Apart from that, it will provide you with the following benefits:


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1. Customer Loyalty, Referral Programs, and Growing ROI

Who wouldn’t love to learn about all the latest discounts and promotions on the go? Smart mobile apps allow benefiting from special offers. The punch-card system method of purchasing items is outdated. Clients dislike monitoring everything manually. That’s why restaurant apps dedicated to loyalty have come to the rescue. They show what users can get: discounts, seasonal offers, rewards, and so on.

When investing your time and effort in restaurant app development, you should decide how you will provide users with personalized customer experience. Promotional applications will help you with this task. For example, they can send users of mobile apps for restaurants push notifications reminding about current and upcoming deals or specified other benefits they can get.

Finally, providing incentives to everyone who refers your business to other people is great. Think about the development of referral programs. It involves offering rewards or discounts to people who sign up for your service via a special link or make the first purchase.

2. Attracting a Wider Audience

Utilizing geo-location marketing is among the primary advantages of building a restaurant application. Localization has a direct impact on conversion rates. Restaurants might be interested in executing various software development approaches to reach potential clients locally. Location-focused deals and iBeacon tech can be helpful.

3. Enhanced Mobile Experience

As of 2023, the amount of smartphone users in the US exceeds 310 million people. Naturally, they use many different applications every day. To serve these customers it will not be enough to create a restaurant website and optimize it.

Restaurant mobile apps provide value for customers who prefer to consume information via smartphones. Such software delivers customized user experience and a high level of personalization, which will help you to increase your client base.

4. Payment Options

When combined with the pre-ordering feature, this one can bring amazing results. Custom apps that allow paying immediately minimize the time clients spend in your restaurant. Make sure that several payment options are available so that users can choose the method that suits them the most. It’s especially crucial when your clients are running out of time. Try to include as many payment options as possible at the development stage.

5. Better Reviews

When choosing the primary features for your restaurant software development project, consider adding a rating and review section. Testimonials influence ranking. Notifying customers to rate a restaurant and share quick reviews in a mobile app is way more effective than doing so on social media platforms. Review apps assist with attracting wider audiences.

6. Ordering and Delivery

Owners of takeaway businesses may agree that orders sometimes can make their lives a living hell. Answering endless phone calls and putting angry customers in waiting lines is a nightmare. However, if you launch a restaurant delivery app to process orders online, this will take the weight off your shoulders.

This feature will allow clients ordering food to their door to monitor the progress of their order and estimate time it may take to get it delivered.

7. Increased Social Proof

Restaurant software can increase social sharing and proof. To make this happen, ensure that popular social networks are integrated into your application. Enable your satisfied customers to spread a word about your place on Instagram, Facebook, or other media. This way, you will increase your brand recognition and customer engagement.

Add an opportunity to link to reputable restaurant review platforms. Such types of activities will help encourage more users to download and install your mobile application or attend your land-based cafe.

8. Entertainment

Finally, it can be just fun! Why don’t you add some gamification elements to turn your restaurant app into an entertainment solution? You can create mini-games, quizzes, and different reward levels to keep your clients motivated to return to your restaurant.

You can gain all these advantages if you partner with a seasoned restaurant app development services provider who will build a robust software solution for you from scratch.

Our next step is to list features that would make your software stand out from other similar products of restaurant app development.

Basic Modules and Features That a Restaurant App Developer Should Mind

In this section, learn more about functionalities that are typically included in restaurant software, as well as core modules.

Restaurant app development helps run both the front and back of house operations while providing back-office support. It is designed specifically for restaurants or the food service industry. Those who decide to create a restaurant app should know the main modules:

  • Inventory management. Monitoring the ingredients and supplies for shifts in real-time.
  • POS. A point-of-sale system that processes all transactions that take place.
  • Employee management. This module assists with employee recruitment, retention, training, and management.
  • Accounting. Keeping track of a restaurant’s budget and all ongoing financial operations.
  • Order management. Full control over all orders made by clients: from meal preparation to delivery and payment.
  • Reservations. Monitoring table booking processes.
  • Payroll. Estimating salaries and paying them to employees.

Now, let’s move to the basic features for restaurant app development:

1. Interactive Menu

Can you imagine how many guests can touch print-out menus daily? E-menu is a way out. Create your own restaurant app menu from scratch or make it interactive by taking high-quality photos. Make sure every product falls into the corresponding category.

A custom restaurant app must involve smart filters for guests to find what they need within seconds. By entering keywords, users should scroll down to their preferred meals immediately. Making a one-click order feature is recommended. Make them see their previous orders.

2. Online Ordering and Pre-ordering

This is another way to minimize the time guests spent in a restaurant. They don’t always have time to sit for long nights. Involve some cooking suggestions that would match different tastes. Apart from that, it would be a good idea to take care of people with specific allergies and diets and help them eat out safely. Provide them with an easy-to-read list of ingredients for all meals so that they could avoid dishes that would not appeal to them.

Your mobile application should serve as a food designer – build a recipe app too. This way, they’ll receive what they want and recommend the specific restaurant to others.

3. Table Reservations

An opportunity to book tables is critical if you create a restaurant app. Booking tables is possible in three different ways: phone calls, website forms, and mobile apps. The last option is the most convenient one, especially when users lack time. This feature is about selecting a table, extending the waiting time, placing orders in advance after observing a menu, and canceling or editing the booking information.

4. Online Payments Processing

When you create a restaurant website, give consumers an opportunity to pay online, in one click, and use any of the multiple payment options (from debit-credit cards to payment systems like PayPal). Then, include a separate check payment option. It is a helpful feature for people wanting to split the bill or for big companies where all members order food separately.

Once a company has ordered something, they open the cart, select an item from the list, and group the order for a single individual. An app should auto-split this check into all members. If all participants have downloaded the app on their smartphones, they can scan a QR code and add their order to the general receipt. After that, the restaurant software will enable them to pay only for their orders.

5. Food Delivery

With the help of this feature, you can automate the workflow of your chefs, drivers, and cashiers. Enhance your app with powerful analytics capabilities, such as efficiency evaluation. This way, you will be able to identify the weak link in your processes and fix it to deliver better services. Don’t forget to add order tracking functionality to allow customers to track their order’s status and send push notifications informing them when the courier comes into the area.

6. Geolocation Capabilities

Imagine that you have several cafes that operate in different cities or even countries. That’s when reliable restaurant management software becomes an absolute must. With its help, you will easily manage all your locations.

7. Locating Restaurants Nearby

If your restaurant or cafe has several locations, it would be useful to enable your clients to find the restaurant nearest to their residence or their current location.

8. Loyalty Programs and Referral Rewards

When communicating with a restaurant app developer, ask this specialist to offer customers bonus points for certain actions. Suppose, a client orders dishes that cost more than $200 or places three orders per week. Encourage these  loyal visitors to stay with your restaurant.

At all times word-of-mouth was a proven way to promote your offerings and grow your customer base. So encourage people to share their opinion of your place with their family and friends by offering them different discounts, bonus money or extra dishes.

9. History of Visits and Payments

This feature helps learn more about customer behavior, preferences and budgets. You may provide them with special offers based on this information.

10. Social Media Interaction

People like sharing photos of their favorite meals or restaurants with their followers on Facebook or Instagram. So allow them to do this with the help of seamless integration with popular social networks. You may even link the loyalty program to their social media accounts to invite their friends and earn reward points. This way, you can both gain new customers and retain existing ones.

11. Push Notifications

With this feature, customers will get timely reminders about upcoming table reservations or deliveries. Additionally, you may inform clients about special events, seasonal offers or other deals via push notifications sent to their smartphones.

12. Ratings and Reviews

Many people rely on reviews and ratings when choosing a restaurant offering a specific cuisine or visiting a new place for the first time. Given that, it would be a good idea to allow clients leave their reviews. This feature will help other customers make more informed decisions. You, in turn, will get valuable feedback that will help you understand how you can improve your menu or services in general.


Advanced Features

If these functions aren’t enough, look for more advanced features and a trusted restaurant app development company:

1. Chatbots

This tech provides some great benefits. Those are tiny programs or recent versions of AI that mimic communication with real people, offering quick solutions to the existing queries.

For example, chatbots can provide answers to the questions that were not covered by the FAQ section. Eventually, as Artificial Intelligence progresses, chatbots will be able to deal with more complex queries. Chatbots invest a lot in personalization.

2. POS Features

Ordering through an app speeds up the process. People hate waiting for waiters during rush hours. To avoid this inconvenience, they order dishes in advance and get waiters bring their cooked meals.

3. Location-Based Services

Geo-fencing functionality and beacons have enabled brands to closely interact with potential clients before they even enter their place. They are somewhat similar to the old-fashioned way of promoting various deals by giving away flyers on the streets.

4. Taxi Ordering

A great way of providing customers with exceptional service is to enable them to call a taxi via your native restaurant application or website. All you have to do is to partner with an affordable taxi service that will have some cars hanging out next to your place.

5. Gamification

When people experience joy and happiness, their bodies produce dopamine.Gamification makes them feel this way. Many extending chains of fast-food restaurants benefit from including interactive elements in their software solutions. As many families arrive with their kids, such things as games, quizzes or polls, interactive quests, bonuses for social activities, and other stuff significantly increase engagement and satisfaction rates. An app may even involve augmented reality (AR) or computer vision.

6. Multiple Platforms

People should notice your project once it’s ready. Reaching out to more users is possible by making an app present on many app-related platforms. Make it accessible on the Play Store and Apple Store.

When building your restaurant management software try to combine genetic functionality with some unique features to satisfy your customers and grow your client base. The analysis of the latest market trends will help you with this task.

Restaurant Application Development and Usage Trends

Find out more about recent trends in mobile app development for the restaurants’ industry.

The implementation of digital technologies in the restaurant industry has grown significantly over the last few years. The recent data by Yahoo Finance showing that the online food delivery market will exceed $505 billion by 2030 once again proves that it is a sound idea to create a restaurant app.

Other arguments in favor restaurant app development are as follows:

  • 77% of the US adults use smartphones and regularly visit local restaurants. They often use their mobile devices for table reservation or ordering dishes ahead.
  • Users prefer making dine-in decisions on the go. 72% of online searches on a mobile device prove that.
  • As research shows, 61% of consumers say that restaurant applications are simple to use and they want their preferred cafe to have one.
  • The recent data provided by Fortune shows that 6.6% of restaurant meals are ordered via mobile gadgets.
  • Approximately 50% of restaurants cut their staff by 20% after the COVID-19. Restaurant apps can reduce the burden on your workers and increase their productivity.

The facts discussed above are strong testimonials to the importance of building a native restaurant app. Though the process may be somewhat challenging, in the long run it is worth the effort.

Challenges of Restaurant Application Development

See what type of challenges and obstacles you may face when creating and launching a restaurant application.

The restaurant and delivery software industry has been induced with a variety of new clients daily. That’s why you may face certain challenges in this field. Let’s define the major pitfalls you will have to embrace when you decide to create a restaurant app.

Unstable Customer Base

Clients are rather unstable at loyalty. The main aim is to obtain tasty meals at greater prices but with minimum obstacles. The convenience of someone’s home or office matters more than money. A great variety of options make the customer base rather unstable as customers wish to try many different options.

Controlling the loyalty level is hard yet vital. Given that approximately 86% of users quit using applications after a couple of weeks after their download, you need to adopt different marketing strategies to retain your clients.

Price Instability

Like in the previous case, prices are hard to predict. This volatility is caused by many factors such as COVID-19, inflation, and more. Choosing between an offensive and defensive pricing model becomes harder with each new day.

“Big Fish” Threat

There are many big names in the restaurant niche who have the largest market share. It means a small portion is left for the newbies. Gaining a stable flow of new customers is no easy fit, but collaboration with a strong development team increases your chances of success.

Clients expect new restaurants to use the latest tech advancements and perks, so they use technologies of different types to create a restaurant app.

Inconsistent Food Quality

Utmost quality is something of primary importance. Poor product quality may lead to food poisoning, which will destroy your reputation. To avoid this mishap, choose only trusted delivery partners.

Can you see the difference between the meals served upon the tables and being delivered at the doorsteps? That’s what creates an essential loophole. The challenge is to make customers trust your brand. They should be sure that the delivered food’s quality is just the same as the one they would get in a restaurant.

Follow our comprehensive guide or even better- hire a reliable restaurant app development company and you will easily embrace all these challenges.


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How to Create a Restaurant App: Step-By-Step Instructions

Explore our brief how-to guide before moving on to the process of developing restaurant software.

Now we approached the main issue: how to create a restaurant app? Here comes another important thing you may wonder about: time-frames for restaurant app development. Let’s be honest: they vary. The key factors influencing the amount of time restaurant app developers need to get the solution explored include functionality, tech capabilities, and the development approach. Generally, businesses may spend three to six months on average to roll out an application of this type.

Now that you see amazing benefits that your business can get, you’re ready to learn how to create a restaurant app. We are here to lead you all the way through – check out our recommended steps below.

1. Conduct Market Research and Track Down the Issue

The restaurant app development process starts with analyzing market rivals and the latest industry trends. In-depth market research will provide you with valuable insights into your domain and target audience. What are the demand and supply? You should answer this question before you delve deeper into building a restaurant app.

2. Work on a Business Plan

Application discovery and planning are an integral part of the pre-development process. When writing a business plan, either come up with a unique business model or grab some ideas from the popular restaurants mentioned in this post. Set SMART business goals.

3. Select a Reliable Software Development Partner

Looking for a credible, experienced software development team is the key to success. Check the company’s portfolio and website before discussing your project details with new teammates.

4. Decide on UI/UX Design

UX/UI design is a crucial part of restaurant app development. By following the latest design trends, you will be able to create a positive user experience and increase your brand’s loyalty. The process involves creating custom illustrations, animations, and visually appealing graphic interface, and mini-interactions to engage with your audience and stand out from the crowd.

5. Data Safety and Protection

When considering app development for a restaurant, make security and protection of sensitive information provided by your clients your top priority. Ensure that you take all necessary measures to prevent hacking attacks, data breaches or other cyber threats. Pick proper security measures for an app.

6. Development Process and Testing

Implement all features necessary for bespoke restaurant software. Once you’re done, don’t be in a hurry. Before launching, many things should be done. Quality assurance is what always matters. At this stage, the development team tests an app and fixes all bugs that may arise.

7. Application Launch with Pre- and Post-Marketing

Here we go: a mobile application is ready! Launching it successfully depends on how well pre- and post-marketing stages are planned. Special events and local holidays are the best time to introduce a new piece of software.

8. Post-Launch Activities

Don’t relax even after you roll out the app. Project support and ongoing maintenance still matter if you don’t want your software to fail within a week or two. Keep updated with the new features that may show up in the restaurant app industry!

That’s how to build a restaurant app in several easy steps.

Use Time-Tested Practices When Building a Restaurant App

So far, we’ve covered a lot about how to make a restaurant app, starting from its definition and features, and finishing with the development process description.

Now’s the time to think about an awesome app for your business. No matter whether you wish to build your own restaurant app from scratch or improve existing software, OpenGeeksLab has a perfect solution in the shape of a professional restaurant app developer. All you need is just to contact us by clicking this link.

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