How to Create a Killer Restaurant App

What is important to consider when creating a restaurant app? We cover vital app features, size and scale considerations, and more...

There are many choices when it comes to apps for restaurant owners, and an app is no longer just a nice-to-have feature. Now, apps are demanded by consumers and a significant source of revenue. According to the National Restaurant Association, by 2030, most takeout and delivery orders won’t be coming through your phone lines—instead, they will be placed digitally.

Consider: Grubhub was founded in 2004, Toast in 2012, DoorDash in 2013, and Uber Eats in 2014—all long before COVID-19. The pandemic just fast-forwarded a restaurant industry revolution.

Creating a website application for restaurants used to be a major undertaking (and a significant investment). Luckily, large providers are only a few of the dozens of available options. So, the question remains: “How do I create the best restaurant app for MY business?” We will give you an overview of the features you need to look for and a breakdown of the process to help you launch your restaurant app!

Must-haves for restaurant apps

Every restaurant app development has to start with three elements: UI/UX, functionality, and customer data. These pieces impact useability, app success, and your ability to take control of the customer experience. Let’s look at each:


The most important thing to remember is that you get ONE first impression. No pressure, right? You need to create a good experience for your customers so they’ll not only come back, but also recommend your restaurant to others.

Forget for a second that you want to build your own restaurant app. Instead, think about some of the third-party food apps you use. Open the app if needed, and ask a few key questions:

  • Does the branding look professional?
  • Did the restaurant tailor its listing to the look and feel of its brand?
  • Are menus easy to navigate and is checkout fast and simple?
  • Can you choose from a variety of payment options?
  • Do you feel safe providing payment information?

All of these are UI/UX features your consumers will expect. Plus, 52 percent of users want restaurants to make ordering and payments easier, so don't turn a blind eye to what can help your app stand out!


When you start creating an app for your restaurant, functionality is too important to overlook. Digital sales are on pace to reach 30 percent of total sales for U.S. restaurants by 2025, so your app needs to walk the walk. Some high-priority functionalities might include point-of-sale (POS) integration, mobile pickup and delivery orders, and loyalty programs. Identify your app’s needs and choose a provider that includes them in its out-of-box solution.

However, don’t forget that functionality is a two-way street. After all, customers shouldn’t be the only ones who benefit. Amid the pandemic, 96 percent of restaurant operators have experienced supply delays or shortages. Being able to update your menus across locations in real time is a major perk when you’re in a crunch. Pandemic aside, pickup and delivery orders are important, especially as worker shortages continue.

Owning your customer data

Some restaurant apps don’t allow you to own your customer data. As a result, you can’t directly reach out or market to customers who order through a third-party service such as DoorDash or Uber Eats. You might have loyal customers, but no direct relationship!

And you aren't the only one missing out. Sixty-three percent of consumers would rather order directly from a restaurant, so it makes even more sense to offer your own online ordering solution.

Knowing what you can do with your data makes a huge impact on your bottom line and customer loyalty. At a high-level view, customer data helps you deploy strategies to win and re-win customers over and over, such as:

  • Showcasing promotions, discounts, and favorite dishes
  • Answering FAQs and adding personalized messaging
  • Maintaining order history for easy reordering and accurate recommendations
  • Forecasting high- and low-volume days and supply and demand for key items

Size and scale considerations for your restaurant app

UI/UX features, customer data, and functionalities all matter when building a stand-out restaurant app, but there are so many other factors to consider. For instance, the number of locations your brand has and the depth of features it needs also impact which provider you choose for your restaurant app.

Single Location

If you only have one location, we recommend creating a mobile app for your restaurant that’s on the simpler side, especially if you’re just dipping your toes into app use. For instance, GloriaFood lets restaurateurs try online ordering free of charge. But instead of an app, the service provides a widget for restaurants to add to existing websites.

Several locations & depth of features

Multiple locations and various features call for a little bit more. You need to balance both operation size and app needs. Let’s say you have 500 locations, but you only need a simple feature set. An out-of-box solution like Octocart may be the right fit.

With Octocart, we take a 1-2-3 approach to developing your restaurant app:

  • Step 1: Setup and branding
  • Step 2: Launch
  • Step 3: On-going Support 

But if you need a fully customized app to support multiple locations and integrations, from-scratch development with a partner like Detroit Labs is your best bet.

Start creating your restaurant app

There are many factors to consider when you decide to create an app for your restaurant, from experience, functionality, and customer data considerations to the size of your operation and must-have features.

But don’t let that overwhelm you—deploying an app for your restaurant opens so many doors! Remember: “Today’s customers are interacting with restaurants digitally—to order takeout and delivery, pay, rate the experience, provide preferences in advance—and they expect the restaurant industry to keep up.” Create your own restaurant app to delight your customers and drive success.

Curious how Octocart’s online ordering platform can help?

Explore the online ordering platform for yourself. 

The Complete Guide to Building a Restaurant App: From Deliver to Delight

Check our insightful Ebook resource about customizable digital ordering solution and how it affects business.
You can read it on our website or download for free. 


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