The Guide to Restaurant App Development


Now that digital technologies have invaded almost all the known fields of business, it’s hard to imagine a situation where a brand doesn’t have a dedicated website or app. This is especially prominent in B2C – a business format that covers quite a large target audience.

What can we say about the restaurant business in this aspect? The creation of a separate dedicated app in this niche is more of a way of increasing quality of service than of enhancing the menu. It’d be fair to also notice that, nowadays, when ordinary cheap fast food can completely satisfy all human hunger needs, it is the level of service that matters in defining the leader in the food services niche. Don’t you agree?

In this article, we’ll discuss what functionality must be featured in your restaurant app and what practical benefits can you get out of it.

Does your establishment really need a dedicated app? Let’s decide

Did you know that Starbucks got 16% of its profit due solely to its dedicated app three years ago? If we consider the fact that their overall profit for 2015 comprised a ridiculous 10b c.u., 16% seems like a quite a large amount of money. That’s not all.

We also assume that online sales increased global restaurant business profits significantly in the last few years.

Quite possibly, your restaurant is not as popular as Starbucks (at least not yet). So what can you do? How do you understand whether the created app is capable of compensating you for your investments? Is it possible that one will have to change the pricing policy of the menu to get a return on the money? Let’s figure that out.

Let’s start with the obvious. If your business, apart from its interior, boasts really good cuisine, the app can help you process those orders of food. You may ask: why can’t a dedicated employee handle that? The answer is simple. According to tendencies over the last few years, the new generation prefers to use smartphones heavily, and not for calls (see the six month old statistics here), but, mainly, for access to the Internet:

Moreover, office workers, entrepreneurs and, essentially, anyone who values their time significantly, are also unlikely to prefer waiting until a hotline accepts their call (busy lifestyles and hunger, when combined, call for desperate measures). What do you think their preference would be? Most probably, they would turn to another restaurant which features its own app that lets you make an order quickly and online.

Your business, like any other establishment, probably has both fans and critics. As practice shows, in most cases, the negative feelings of the critics are usually unrelated to the level of your cuisine. They could simply not like the restaurant’s concept or vibe. In particular, if you have a stylish venue and exquisite cuisine, your establishment might as well become a location for taking selfies, which can turn off potential customers that don’t like excessive publicity and want to merely enjoy their meal in relative silence. The app, in its turn, would provide an ability to order take-away food.

In such a manner, the creation of an app is an utterly contemporary approach to extending and holding the target audience.

Now that you (probably) realize completely that your business also needs some dedicated software, you’ll have to define its future functionality.

Restaurant reservation app development: defining the necessary functionality

Now, let’s find out which attributes any really strong restaurant app must feature.

Menu. Not a single restaurant app (as well as the restaurant itself) can exist without a menu. We’d like to warn you beforehand that you (or your developer’s team) will have to put significant effort into the development of an accessible, inviting menu. Why? You CAN simply digitalize the paper version design of the menu although, coming from experience, it’s not always a justifiable option. Traditional format for menus is an A4 sheet of paper. Shrinking the image, some small details might be blurred or even lost. Be prepared to replace part of the design and food images.

Order form. As we mentioned above, the option of making an order via the app is a great way to make your service attractive to the working people, as well as those who prefer texting over real-life communication.

Reservation option. In addition to the previous on-demand option, we’d strongly recommend enriching your app’s functionality with a table reservation function. Schematic illustrations of vacant and reserved tables can help customers with special desires orientate themselves.

Separate ingredient choice options. Offer your mobile app users the option to personally pick additional ingredients for their order. Just imagine a situation where your house special dessert demanded by every town’s sweet tooth includes nuts, while a good share of those who’d like to try it have an allergy. Look at this case from the customer’s perspective. Of course, it’s much easier to just ask a waiter to exclude nuts in the restaurant. Doing that remotely would be a much more problematic affair. The similar need for such a function also appears when the customer wishes to personally take part in the creation of a meal.

In order to solve this issue, many restaurants offer a number of custom menu items that can be put together personally. They usually include sandwiches, pizza, salads, etc. That’s why the most effective thing to do here would be offering your customers the option to personally choose their key ingredients.

Complaints and suggestions. It’s very important for you, as a business owner, to be able to demonstrate your business’ objectiveness. Create a separate tab for feedback for this very purpose. It’ll be editable and will allow physical visitors of your restaurant to describe their impressions and provide feedback. Moreover, such an option can be involved in each point of the menu to define the most trendy and popular food items.

Push notifications. Sending push notifications is a great way to increase profit. Implementation of this feature won’t significantly affect the cost to develop a restaurant app, while the advantages will be plentiful. Promos, discounts, events, menu extensions – your customers will be finding out about all these without even having to open the app! Furthermore, special types of push notifications – geo-targeted push notifications - could help you automatically attract new visitors when they are in the vicinity of your establishment.

Personal user account. This feature would provide users not only with optimal conditions for managing personal orders, but also with the ability to apply a personal discount (e.g. progressive discount). Moreover, the personal cabinet allows one to pay for their orders via the Internet using a banking card or an e-wallet.

Events calendar. Built-in events calendars allow visitors to monitor various events and promos conducted by your restaurant. This feature can help them plan not only for upcoming evenings out, but for weeks or months in advance.

Social network integration. Most people like publicity, as the incredible popularity of social networks like Instagram indicates. That’s why your customers most probably already have a profile with which they can immediately register in your app. This enhances the accessibility of the interface and provides the best UX.

Basically, all the above-mentioned features comprise an MVP of your food ordering mobile app and, if you want, you can involve some more specific options. Now, let’s find out what prep stages must be completed in order to commence the developmental process.

How to make an app for a restaurant: necessary stages before commencing software development

Remember to formulate a plan for the whole process before you initiate your restaurant app development. Fortunately, we can lay out a useful example right here and right now. Handle the following tasks to increase your chances of achieving success.

Competitor analysis. Before commencing the creation of the app, you’ll have to analyze existing competitor apps, as well as check the related feedback. The goal here is obvious – confirm the definition of the key parameters that would influence the popularity of your solution and help make it more accessible and intuitive. Moreover, you’ll be able to uncover common design tendencies with a thorough analysis.

Choice of mobile platform. The next very important step to take is choosing the developmental environment. Because restaurant apps, as mentioned before, are intended for as wide an audience as possible, the optimal solution would include support of both platforms that are currently the most popular – iOS and Android. You think that this would require a huge budget? Just use the cross-platform framework for mobile development and you’ll get a multipurpose software solution which will be compatible with both platforms for a quite moderate amount of money.

MVP creation. If your expected software budget appears to be quite large and if you plan to implement authentic functionality – the creation of the MVP would be the most rational decision. It’ll help predict your target audience reaction and experience minimal losses even in the most negative situation.

Correlation of design with existing features of your establishment. If you paid close attention to the previous list, you might have discovered that most restaurant business apps require a redesign to match the existing concept of your establishment. Make sure that your brand’s features are integral and match in every representation.

That’s it! Now you can confidently launch the development processes.


To summarize everything discussed, according to the mentioned statistics, an accessible and intuitive restaurant app can significantly boost the trustworthiness of your business and widen your audience. Collected in this article are the general recommendations that can help identify the solution in question.

All this is fine and dandy but… what if you’re not a professional developer and don’t possess enough knowledge for the technical implementation of the software? What do you do in such a case? The answer is simple – turn to the experts. Particularly, mobile app development for local business is a forte of the Applikey Solutions team. You can contact our manager now to discuss the specifics of a future app, as well as find out how much development will cost. We will gladly become your restaurant mobile app development company!

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