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

Why would your restaurant want someone to create a restaurant app? Today, the restaurant software development industry can significantly benefit from using different applications for managing business and attracting more clients.

Industry representatives apply management software for various purposes, including inventory/order tracking, payments, and analytics. These tools assist with simplifying and speeding up onboarding, comparing best practices at numerous destinations, and controlling workflow. It makes sense to create a restaurant app.

Many wonder how to create a restaurant app. In case reviving or expanding your business is your primary goal, bear in mind there are restaurant app development services.

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.

We also want to introduce Lezzoo, an on-demand delivery platform for the restaurant industry and many other niches. This software 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.

Those tools are mostly focused on digital ordering as social distancing is a new norm. Such software usually offers info like bonuses and promotions, loyalty points, gifts, and more to attract new clients and retain old customers.

Many of those features are revolutionary, so know them to create a restaurant app. One of the first restaurants to propose novelties in custom software development is Starbucks. It significantly improved how people order ahead using their mobile devices. 63% of its clients are satisfied with the native Starbucks app.

If we take small restaurant chains like Boston’s Flour Bakery, we’ll see that they have launched management applications that allow accruing bonuses and exchanging 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. Such tools allow navigating an area to discover all available restaurants and cafes next to a user.

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.

Restaurant mobile app developers should update such apps regularly as adding all newly appearing spots is necessary. 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 app is 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. It allows reviewing menus and placing orders right from customers’ mobile gadgets once they scan a QR code. This development solution solves problems with costs on waitstaff. Besides, it guarantees decreased flaws in the ordering processes. After having their meal, customers can pay via such an application as well. 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.

Domino’s Pizza has gained popularity thanks to its fast delivery. They even promise to compensate your money in case they come late. As more customers wish to obtain their favorite meals at their doorstep, it makes sense to create a restaurant app.

Restaurant Menu App

This tool allows scanning the QR code to view the digital menu where customers browse through all positions on hand. AI-powered analytics make optimizing operations, development, and understanding customer behavior way better. Restaurants can then make more informed decisions. Rhino Coffee app is good at both displaying full menus and showing all available locations.


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!

Customers don’t like wasting time listening to a waiter or reading printouts to find out how they can benefit from special offers. Including such information in a special app is way more effective, and a restaurant’s sales may skyrocket. 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.

Custom review software may contain general info on various restaurants, as well as independent reviews. Trip Advisor is great for both hotel and restaurant reviews. 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.

Selecting a category or mixing several of them is up to you, but we recommend making it simple to integrate with the restaurant’s tech. Knowing the fundamentals of restaurant app development services will help make an informed decision.

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.

But first of all, we’ll list issues that a restaurant business may face in case it doesn’t own a native management app.

  • 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. Some restaurant mobile app developers include an opportunity to track the order’s progress and watch every delivery step if clients order food to their door. It shows how much time it might take. One-tap payment is another must-have feature for such apps. Add the special field for comments where users can put down the preferred method of cooking, ingredients, or else.
  • Losing clients. All problems mentioned above can lead a restaurant to the worst outcome, which is losing customers. Such scenarios often happen during the rush hours when there are too many people and an insufficient amount of waitstaff/tables to serve everyone. That’s when the delivery service app steps in. As eMarketer admits, more than 20% of mobile customers in the US are using food delivery applications.

Based on our development categories mentioned above, you can guess that building a custom restaurant app of a great design has plenty of benefits. You may either focus on some of them or do your best to obtain all 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.

Promotional applications allow for a personalized customer experience. In these products of restaurant app development, restaurants can remind customers about benefits they can get via push notifications. They’re rather effective during the festive seasons. Good mobile apps for restaurants send notifications about both current and upcoming deals.

Finally, providing incentives to everyone who refers your business to other people is great. Think about the development of referral programs. For instance, providing rewards for someone who signs up or for 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

Almost 300 million people in the US use smartphones regularly, so it makes sense that they use different mobile apps daily. Don’t create a restaurant website alone as it may not be displayed correctly, no matter how well it is optimized.

Developing a separate app for those who prefer reviewing info from mobile devices makes sense. This step makes gathering valuable info from users and providing a customized experience possible. Restaurant mobile apps are about highly personalized experience and design, so you can come up with a more engaged customer 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. Ordering meals online and paying for them using one of the multiple methods speeds up the process. 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

Restaurant software development helps businesses obtain feedback from clients and field experts. 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

Those who own takeaway businesses agree that orders are the bane of their existence. Answering endless phone calls and putting angry customers in waiting lines is a nightmare. However, if they launch an app and make a quick order online, this will take the weight off your shoulders.

Also, ordering in a restaurant delivery app ensures that clients receive exactly what they want. Making online payments possible will make cashier’s or driver’s job stress-free.

7. Increased Social Proof

Restaurant software increases social sharing and proof. Tying all online services in a single simple-to-use platform is enough. For example, each time a guest leaves feedback, expressing how happy they were to visit your place, kindly ask them to share via Instagram, Twitter, or else.

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! Restaurants may add some quizzes, come up with interactive characters, offer mini-games, and many other things that will turn their mobile application into an entertainment app.

These advantages can be obtained if you choose qualified restaurant app development services to create software properly. 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 nights long. Involve some cooking suggestions that would match different tastes. An app should help people with specific diets or allergies to avoid meals that wouldn’t 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’s a useful solution for people who prefer ordering dishes in groups. A company of friends would be thankful if they won’t have to break up the total on their own.

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. In case all participants have an app installed on their devices, they scan a QR code, pick/add an order to the general receipt, and the software allows paying only for what each of them orders.

5. Food Delivery

This feature is vital for automating the working routine of chefs, cashiers, and drivers. Include an efficiency evaluation so that it’s possible to estimate the weak link and make services better. We recommend adding order tracking; customers prefer watching their order’s status. They should also receive a notification when a courier comes close to their place. Allow feedback on both the quality of dishes and delivery services.

6. Geolocation Capabilities

Imagine that you have several cafes that operate in different cities or even countries. It might be difficult to handle their management from a single location without restaurant management software. Any mobile app of this type should have an accurate geolocation feature so that users can find the location hassle-free.

7. Locating Restaurants Nearby

Clients should be able to find the closest restaurant at any time. Sure, in case your restaurant or cafe is limited to just one outlet, this feature might make no sense.

8. Loyalty Programs and Referral Rewards

A restaurant app developer should involve bonus points for various actions. For example, if a person orders dishes worth more than $100 or if they make at least three orders per week. Encourage loyal visitors to stay with your restaurant.

Referral programs are an effective, time-tested method to attract new customers by using word-of-mouth. People who enjoy your restaurant share their thoughts with others. They should be rewarded for doing that or they may not have enough motivation. Think about different discounts, seasonal offers, bonus money, extra dishes, and more. Applying reward systems helps significantly increase retention rates.

9. History of Visits and Payments

This function greatly assists with studying customer behavior. It lets restaurant management know the preferences of their guests along with their budgets.

10. Social Media Interaction

Many people post pics of their favorite meals on Instagram and Twitter, adding some quotes and sharing feedback with their followers. Usually, geo-location and the name of the place are detected and displayed automatically. This is a great promotion for a restaurant, especially if a person stays satisfied, leaving a positive comment or review. Make sharing content on social media platforms possible and simple.

11. Push Notifications

This feature is critical for people who pre-order food or expect a delivery. Push notifications are also effective for reminding customers about upcoming table reservations. Other types of notifications may be sent to let them know about holidays, special events, and seasonal offers. Treat pushes as tiny interactive flyers that always keep users up-to-date.

12. Ratings and Reviews

Instead of forcing the clients to ask waiters about every dish, a better solution would be adding a feature that allows reviewing comments and testimonials. Ratings and detailed reviews published online significantly speed up the process of choosing meals. Such features are useful for studying various restaurants and making informed decisions about which one to attend. Once you get insights from clients or field experts, analyze feedback to keep improving your website and services in general.



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. An example could be answering questions that are not present in FAQs. As AI progresses, chatbots can answer more than trivial questions. 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. They prefer ordering in advance and having waiters just bring their cooked meals.

3. Location-Based Services

Such services as geo-fencing and beacons have provided many brands with an opportunity to closely interact with potential clients before they even enter their location. Think of it as the contemporary day’s analogy of giving away flyers to people passing by the streets and promoting various deals.

4. Taxi Ordering

Allow ordering a taxi on your website or in a native restaurant app instead of looking for a third-party service. The great idea is to find a partner in the face of an affordable taxi service that will have some cars hanging out next to your place.

5. Gamification

Human brain produces dopamine when people are jovial and happy. 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.

Mix standard and additional features to develop an app for your restaurant. One more thing of interest are the recent market trends in restaurant management software.

Restaurant Application Development and Usage Trends

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

The restaurant software industry is among the most trending ones as of today. Experts forecast that the online food ordering/delivery field alone will achieve $365 billion. Here are some other stats that might persuade you to create a restaurant app.

  • In the United States, 77% of adults own smartphones, and they are the primary visitors of local restaurants. That’s why they prefer having mobile applications to reserve tables/order food 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.
  • According to Fortune, 6.6% of restaurant orders are booked online via a mobile device.
  • Almost 50% of all restaurants are operating with 20% fewer employees than before COVID-19, and apps can solve this problem.

The Internet is full of stats that prove how essential having a native restaurant app is. Don’t expect that creating such a tool is easy, but it’s worth your 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 take a closer look before you 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. Observing various marketing strategies is highly recommended. Roughly 86% of customers stop using software in a couple of weeks after its launch.

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

The restaurant industry is full of serious players who own the largest market share. It means a small portion is left for the newbies. Obtaining customers and high value is complicated, especially if you don’t have a strong team of developers.

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. In case any customer gets poisoned, the restaurant’s reputation is destroyed. Selecting trusted delivery partners is like grasping at straws.

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.

Overcoming these challenges is real by following our steps or turning to a restaurant app development company.


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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.

Off we go, let’s have a look at how long it may take you to create a restaurant app. It varies, depending on the features, requirements, tech capabilities, and how you hire restaurant app developers. 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

Analyzing the industry trends is what should be done first for restaurant app development. Targeting an audience is impossible without in-depth research. An app owner should know where the market is and where it is heading. What are the demand and supply? Answer that before you create 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

It’s all about visualization in restaurant app development, and this aspect is especially critical for Gen Z. A thoughtful UI/UX design guarantees a frictionless user experience. That is to say, you should bet on minimalism, plain colors, and a highly interactive interface spared of excessive details.

5. Data Safety and Protection

Decide how to guarantee data security and protection during app development for a restaurant. Mobile apps should prevent any information outflow, hacking attacks, and 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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