The Impact of Online Ordering on Restaurant Design

Historically, we've associated food delivery and pick-up with late-night, poorer quality, faster food. But with the advent of smartphones, innovative POS companies, and delivery services like Grubhub and UberEats, customizable menus are at our fingertips and delivery drivers are floating around your neighborhood waiting to pick up and deliver to you.

Restaurants are now able to reach a wider customer-base than before, and have an opportunity to make greater profits. In order to reap these benefits, restaurant spaces need to plan for the added business. 

A few questions to ask yourself and your team are:

  • Can your kitchen accommodate the additional tickets being generated (for delivery and pick-up) without sacrificing ticket time of your in-house customers?

  • Is there proper and sufficient staging space for these meals to be picked up? (per Board of Health)

  • Is your restaurant adequately staffed to handle food coming from the kitchen to be packed for take-out, and to handle the transactions as customers and drivers come in?

  • Are the pick-up areas clearly marked, easy to access, and equipped with suitable waiting space for those customers waiting for the food without interfering with your guests waiting to be seated?

  • Are the pick-ups accessible for customers to grab for themselves (i.e. Panera, Chipotle) or behind a counter and requiring a POS station?

Each of these questions have their own design implications; there is no catch-all rule of thumb of what works. Each concept is unique: it’s space, team, menu, client demographic and spacial needs. Because of this, the best thing that you can do is work with your architect to evaluate your specific needs and accommodate them.

For an existing store expanding to mobile service, take the steps to thoroughly evaluate your current situation. Talk to your team, talk to other restaurateurs who are already doing it, talk to your POS company or explore new options for POS systems like Toast, analyze your existing data, talk to your kitchen equipment company and do your own research.

But what if you’re opening a brand-new restaurant with no existing data of your own? It's almost more important to do your research and work closely with professionals who have relevant experience. The worst thing would be to open and have potential revenue that is turned away due to a lack of planning. For any restaurant, square footage = seats = revenue. But, if you lost two four-tops and added additional staging surfaces in the back-of-house to accommodate for online ordering, it may not only make up for the loss of those 8 seats, but it could greatly enhance your restaurant’s potential.

With a well researched and thought out design strategy for online ordering, you can maximize your restaurants earning potential without sacrificing the service, quality or hospitality for your in-house patrons.