To reach guests and drive revenue, most restaurants adapted to takeout when the pandemic started. A wide variety of takeout options is something people say they want to see stick around even as things open back up.
Takeout is a winner among diners: 91% want restaurants to keep offering takeout and delivery after the pandemic ends, according to our February diner survey. Ditto with offering wine and beer to go (52%), cocktails and bar kits to go (46%), and meal kits (42%). And restaurants are meeting diners where they are: 84% of restaurants say that takeout is the most popular dining option among customers, and 71% of restaurants say they’re offering takeout for dinner.
If takeout has worked for you and your guests, now is a good time to identify what’s working, what’s not, and make improvements.
One of the most scalable ways to increase revenue is to do more of what’s working. Do your competitive research and see what restaurants like yours or in your neighborhood are doing. Getting insights from restaurants that people will be looking at alongside yours can help you identify areas of improvement or competitive advantage.
Prep your kitchen ahead of time by letting people place orders up to 30 days in advance. You can even set cut-off times, so your operations can be smooth sailing with fewer unknowns. It’s a win-win for guests and staff: people can plan and order their meal early, and staff can know what they’re preparing. On average, about half of all takeout orders on OpenTable are scheduled in advance.
For holidays, people want to plan even further out. Puffer Malarkey Collective, a restaurant group in Southern California, saw orders come in 3 weeks before a holiday.
Put your takeout offerings front and center so people don’t have to wonder if you offer takeout or how to order. Share your menu link on social media and add a unique takeout button to your website. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly so people can access it wherever they are.
Promote your takeout menu using a QR code on a poster outside your restaurant, on flyers, and on mailers. If you’re looking for graphics to share on social media, download this takeout-specific digital kit to let people know they can order takeout from you through OpenTable.
Less is more with takeout—keep the menu simple by offering top sellers and house favorites. At top-performing takeout restaurants on OpenTable, just 20 items on their menus account for more than two-thirds of their orders.
Extending the hospitality you’d offer in your dining room to takeout orders can be as simple or as detailed as you make it. For instance, takeout silverware with your restaurant logo or fresh cookies to give every meal a sweet ending are relatively easy lifts, while giving diners a unique at-home experience with meal kit options and special takeout additions involves a bit more planning.
Andrew Viragh, Hospitality and Operations Development at Tempus, says, “Opening a restaurant during a pandemic, we decided to be takeout only, and knew we wanted to provide the same hospitality to our guests as we would in our restaurant. We added touches to each order: heating our pickup area, offering large format ice cubes for cocktails, and adding thank you notes signed by the chef.”
Meal kits are a hit for special occasions too. Of the most ordered special occasion takeout items, 9 out of the 10 are meal kits or family-style meals, according to OpenTable data.
Puffer Malarkey Collective strives to bring their restaurant ethos to life through their takeout meals. Lauren Winget, director of marketing at Puffer Malarkey Collective, says, “We have our chef, Brian Malarkey, and we want this meal to feel like an extension of him. If he popped into your home, what would he cook you for dinner?” See how Puffer Malarkey Collective drives revenue on holidays with family-style takeout.
Takeout done right can be a boon for restaurants; the trick is trying things out and then identifying how to scale operations to do more of what’s working to make the revenue numbers soar and keep those guests coming back for more of what you’re cooking up.