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Create a Restaurant App: Features, Cost & Tech Details

33 min read
How to Make an App for My Restaurant

With the increasing use of mobile, the majority of businesses can’t go around without a branded app.

The restaurant industry is no different.

You might be wondering why create your own app if there are dozens of third-party platforms where you can list your restaurant business.

More than 52% of customers have more trust in a restaurant’s own branded app than a third-party food platform.

If you don’t have your own app, you’re probably losing some revenue.

In this article, we discuss the best ways to create a restaurant app. One of the most exhaustive guides for restaurant app development is right in front of you.

Here’s a quick overview of its contents:

  • key business reasons to create a restaurant app
  • restaurant app development step by step
  • innovative ideas for restaurant mobile app development
  • restaurant app development cost

Let’s explore all the aspects of restaurant mobile app development

Why Your Restaurant Needs a Mobile App in 2021

Reasons to Create a Restaurant App

So, why does a restaurant business need an app?

In the USA, around 67% of customers prefer to order food delivery through an online app or a website. (Statista, 2021)

But food delivery is not the only reason why customers turn to their smartphones. They use apps to view restaurant menus and prices, check for operation hours, search for restaurants nearby, look for restaurant reviews and much more. 60% of local searches on mobile convert into buying customers within the hour.

Turns out, the reasons to create a restaurant app are numerous, as are the benefits for customers. With a mobile app, customer experience can be easier to customers, as it could help to reduce lines and improve efficiency of the restaurant business.

Below are the main benefits of mobile apps for restaurants.

  • Customer loyalty

Today, having an online presence for an offline business determines whether you can compete or not. 

One of the main reasons to create a restaurant app is to improve customer experience. With the help of an app, restaurants can provide different features such as menu lookup, instant access to the information, search for delivery options, etc. Customers that have a great experience with a restaurant are more likely to turn into loyal customers.

  • Simplified payment processing

In the modern world, a lot of customers find it more convenient to pay via an app. The mobile payment market was estimated at $827.6 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow to 8,724.2 billion by 2027. 

Enabling customers to pay in your restaurant with their preferred payment method improves customer experience and leads to higher loyalty.

  • Increase in sales

The most crucial reason for restaurant mobile app development is the possibility of increased sales. There are a number of methods to how a business can achieve that: by offering food delivery, allowing customers to book a table via an app and avoid long waiting lines, or even check the menu and working hours.

  • Special deals

What better way to turn one-time customers into returning ones than by offering a loyalty program, a special deal, or a coupon for the next visit? Restaurant app development can help you with customer retention.

  • Customer feedback

Just a few years ago, restaurants had to conduct costly surveys and interviews to find out what customers thought about their venue. Thanks to restaurant apps, businesses can get customer feedback instantly and tailor the processes to provide better service and customer experience.

As you can see, restaurant mobile app development benefits both restaurants and customers. That’s why many businesses decide to create a restaurant app as a way to boost their growth.

Do you want to create a restaurant app for your business?

Get in touch with our team, and we’ll be glad to help you with restaurant app development. Drop us a line, and we’ll get in touch with you to discuss your project in more detail.

How to Create a Restaurant App: Step-by-Step Process

How to Make a Restaurant App

So, how can you create a restaurant app for your business?

App development for restaurants is a complex process that consists of different stages:

  1. Conduct market and business research
  2. Set business goals and strategy
  3. Choose a restaurant app development company
  4. Decide on the app functionality
  5. Choose a tech stack
  6. Design a restaurant app
  7. Develop an app
  8. Test, deploy and launch the app
  9. Start marketing & promotion
  10. Collect and analyze user feedback
  11. Start ongoing development and support

Below, you can see a detailed overview of the restaurant mobile app development process and all the required sub-steps.

Step 1: Conduct Market & Business Research

The main secret to creating a successful restaurant app is knowing the market state, key app types and the main competitions. That’s why market and business research should be the number one step in the development process.

Your app should solve the demand of customers and the requirements of your business.

Start with the analysis of your target audience. Find out what problems your customers face and learn what services they would like a restaurant to provide. After you identify the pain points, you will be able to create a restaurant app that will be in high demand among customers.

Today, there are a number of restaurant app types that you can develop for your business. Below is a short overview of the most popular categories with some examples included.

Examples of Restaurant Apps
  • Restaurant locator app
Restaurant Locator App Example

One of the possible ways to approach restaurant mobile app development is to create a restaurant locator app. This type of app allows customers to find dining locations nearby. Creating this app type would require you to have a database with all restaurants, cafes, and other dining locations nearby. Google Places API is a great solution to rely on when it comes to Android app development. Combined with geofencing, this app will help you attract new customers to your restaurant.

However, the functionality of this app type is not limited to just showing locations. You might also need to consider adding the capability to add and show reviews, photos, view menus and get detailed directions to the restaurants.

Essential features:

  • User profile
  • Restaurant search (with filters)
  • Restaurant listings
  • Restaurant information and menus
  • Photo gallery
  • Reviews and ratings
  • Geolocation and directions

Examples of restaurant locator apps: Zomato, OpenTable, Yelp

Table-Reservation App Example

Today, customers don’t like calling to book a table with their favorite restaurant. They prefer using apps that allow them to make a reservation at any time suitable to them. Such apps usually provide information about working hours, the busiest times and a calendar with available time slots.

Essential features:

  • User profile
  • Calendar with free dates
  • Table booking
  • Geolocation
  • Menu
  • Ratings and reviews

Examples of table reservation apps: OpenTable

  • Online ordering and delivery app
Online Ordering and Delivery App Example

Food delivery is growing in leaps and bounds, thanks in no small part to worldwide lockdowns. In just a year, the fool delivery market grew from 7 billion in 2021 to $126.921 billion in 2021. The market is expected to reach $192.16 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 11%. That’s why today is the perfect time to start creating a food delivery app.

There are two types of apps that can be developed:

  • Full-service application – an application that you create for your own business. This is a branded app, like Domino’s Pizza, that provides customers with the ability to order food at one restaurant.
  • Delivery aggregator app – such apps allow restaurant owners to connect to food delivery service providers who deliver orders from restaurants to customers. The Zomato app is a great example.

When you create a restaurant app, you can’t forget about the rising popularity of Order Online Pick Up in Store (in our case in a restaurant) services. Such applications allow placing orders online and them dropping by the restaurant to pick up the order personally. Such functionality is extremely useful at the busiest hours for restaurants offering take-outs. Chipotle is a great example of food ordering app development.

Essential functionality:

  • User profile
  • Restaurant search
  • Menu
  • Payment card adding
  • Automatic payments
  • Order details and history
  • Order booking
  • Delivery status
  • Notifications
  • Ratings and reviews

Examples of online ordering and delivery apps: Zomato, Chipotle, Domino’s Pizza

Explore our exhaustive guide on food delivery app development and learn all the ins and out of the processes involved:

How to Create Food Delivery App: Trends, Features & Tech Details [2021 Guide]
  • On-table ordering and payment app
On-Table Ordering and Payment App Example

This type of app has become quite popular recently. Because of the pandemic precautions, many restaurants have already created a mobile app for restaurant ordering that allows customers to view the menu, make an order and pay for it with their smartphone. This way, you can eliminate the need to use paper menus and provide more payment options for customers, allowing them to choose the one they prefer.

Essential functionality:

  • Menu
  • Order details
  • Online payment
  • Reordering
  • Loyalty programs
  • Bill split
  • Integration of mobile wallets
  • Tipping and automatic tip addition

Examples of on-table ordering and payment apps: Flipdish 

  • Loyalty program app
Loyalty Program Restaurant App

Customer retention is one of the most difficult parts of any business. When we talk about highly competitive areas like restaurants, customers don’t always choose the closest location. Deals and special offers don’t play the last role in their decision-making. Creating an app that provides information about all available deals and discounts will definitely skyrocket customer retention. 

The main idea of such a restaurant app is to entice customers with yummy offers.

Essential features: 

  • User profile
  • Different types of rewards (discounts, complimentary beverages, gifts, special offers)
  • Settings for user rewards (for the app’s admins)
  • In-app menu
  • Order online pick up offline
  • Online payment

Examples of restaurant loyalty program apps: Starbucks

When you create a restaurant app, please note that some of them combine a number of characteristics from different categories. For example, you can combine restaurant location features with table booking functionality.

So, the first step in restaurant app development should be dedicated to identifying what your competitors are doing and understanding what app types you can create.

Step 2: Set Business Goals & Strategy

So, what do you want to achieve with restaurant mobile app development

What are your business goals?

Answers to these questions will help you understand what app type you should choose. Don’t start app development just for the sake of development. You need to fully understand what you want to achieve and how the app will fit in your strategy. Setting up KPIs might be helpful, as it will make the choice of solution type easier.

Step 3: Choose a Restaurant App Development Company

This is, for sure, one of the most important steps when you create a restaurant app.

You can find numerous restaurant app builders that might entice you with the promise to create a food delivery app for free. However, such solutions are not the best option as they don’t allow you to create highly customized apps and scale them according to your business needs. You might end up hitting the ceiling far too soon and would need to create a restaurant app from scratch.

A far better option is to hire professionals to do the job. Here are a few options available:

  • You can work with freelancers who’ll take on the development process. This option might turn into a disaster if you choose wrong and developers won’t deliver the necessary results or won’t deliver any results at all.
  • You can create your own IT department that will work on restaurant app development. Just keep in mind that this is an extremely time- and money-consuming option, as you would need to handle the recruitment process, deal with all bureaucracy moments and pay salary for a few full-time developers.

You can also outsource restaurant mobile app development, which is the most cost-efficient option. You won’t have to deal with hiring and bureaucracy aspects. The company you outsource the creation of your solution takes on all of the tasks and provides you with professionals. Outsourcing outside your own country might be a huge win in terms and quality and restaurant app development cost, as you would be able to get the best developers at lower prices.

Need help with choosing the right company for your future project?

Check our guide covering all the aspects and pitfalls of app outsourcing and helping avoid a costly mistake:

How to Outsource Application Development in 2021?

Step 4: Decide on the App Functionality

After you’ve successfully identified your business goals and chosen the development team, it’s time to decide on the functionality of your future app. The final set of features directly depends on the results you expect to achieve with your application. 

Features selection may vary significantly, as you might need to combine features from different app types to achieve the required results. Be prepared that your app might not fit into a single app category but have the attributes of a few at once.

Let’s start with core features that you can use to create a restaurant app:

Basic Features to Create a Restaurant App
  • Menu

Do you plan to build a restaurant ordering app? In this case, adding menu screens should be the first feature to implement. Your app should show how the dishes look like, provide the full list of ingredients, and display information about customization options.

When working on the app, you can address the task of restaurant menu app design in different ways. One thing that must remain unchanged is the quality of dishes’ images. The menu should also include a menu button for fast ordering.

  • Online ordering

Online food ordering has never been so popular as it’s today. Adding this feature to your restaurant may help you increase sales. Ordering functionality can be implemented in different ways. You can add the ability to order food online with delivery to customers’ homes or to preorder food and pick them up offline. It’s also possible to combine two features to attract even more customers.

  • Table reservation

When you create a restaurant app, consider adding the ability to book a table online. We’re living in a world where voice calls are gradually moving into the past. Customers prefer to reserve tables online than to call a restaurant or do it in person.

  • Online payment

Depending on the type of app you choose, the online payments feature may become a must-have one. It’s a great addition for pre-ordering when customers order online, pay for their order through your app and then drop by your location to pick up the order. It’s a must-have functionality for food delivery applications.

  • Restaurants nearby

Are you a big restaurant chain with a number of locations? Then consider adding geolocation to help customers find your sites. They will be able to find the closest locations with no problem.

  • Food delivery

Are you going to provide food delivery services? It would help if you answered this question before you start restaurant app development. If the answer is yes, add this functionality to your app. Just remember that this type of app is more complex and usually consists of different modules: for customers, drivers, restaurants, etc. You can read more about it in our article on food delivery app development.

  • Loyalty programs

Loyalty programs are one of the best ways to make the most devoted customers feel special. You can provide them with bonuses, coupons, special deals and discounts. These can be applied for online and in-restaurant orders. You can also offer some discounts for first-time customers to attract new audiences and then wow it with your exceptional services.

  • Push notifications

While you can add this feature with further restaurant mobile app development, think about adding it right away. Push notifications can be used for different purposes. You can notify customers about the status of their order, tell them about upcoming special offers, remind them about active coupons, and much more. Push notifications are a great way to stay in touch with your customers and entice them to come back to your restaurant. However, the coin always has two sides and it’s important not to be too pushy; otherwise you risk annoying your customers.

  • Social media integration

Social media can be used not only for creating a user profile and for sign-ins. You can allow users to share photos of the served dishes on social media and their reviews. Social media marketing is a powerful tool and you should do everything in your power to make it work in favor of your business.

If you want to create a restaurant app that will stand out, you need to consider adding advanced features. Below are listed some of them:

Advanced Features for Restaurant App Development
  • Quick order

This functionality allows users to repeat their previous order in one click. This feature is a great addition for coffee shops and their regular customers.

  • Order delivery tracking

If you plan to provide order delivery, consider adding the GPS tracking of the order while it’s been delivered.

  • Chatbot

Chatbots are a great way to provide better customer service and save money on it. Chatbots can provide customers with answers to the most frequently asked questions. There are numerous solutions on the market that can be integrated with a restaurant app, so no need to develop them from scratch.

  • Taxi ordering

When you create a restaurant app, try to make it helpful to customers. Integrations with third-party services might do the magic. One of the most useful features is in-app taxi ordering so that customers can get to their homes from your restaurant safely. You can integrate the app with Uber API or some other popular solutions at your location.

  • Gamification

This feature is great for improving customer engagement and retention. You can set up a system of achievements, challenges and even create tournaments. For example, you can reward them for every order with an in-app currency that customers can use in your store to pay for orders. There are different ways how this functionality can be implemented.

Please note that the final set of features will depend entirely on the key purpose of the app and the problems you want to address.

Step 5: Choose a Tech Stack

After you’ve successfully identified the set of features, it’s time to choose the tech stack for restaurant app development. You can either choose to create a native app or a hybrid one that will work both on Android and iOS. The tech stack will differ based on your decision.

For example, you will need to use Kotlin or Java for Android development, Swift or Objective-C for iOS apps and Flutter for hybrid app development.

Below is an example of the technology stack needed to create a restaurant app.

Mobile app development

  Android app  iOS app Hybrid app
Programming languages Kotlin or Java Swift or Objective-C  Flutter
Back-end development PHP, Java, Python PHP, Java, Python PHP, Java, Python
Toolkit Android Studio, Android Development Tools Apple Xcode  
Software development kit (SDK) Android SDK iOS SDK Flutter SDK

Third-party solutions

Cloud & servers AWS (Amazon Web Services)
Database MySQL, MangoDB
Payment methods Stripe, Braintree, PayPal
Geolocation Google Places API, Google Maps API, Apple Maps API
Social media Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, Instagram
Push notifications Firebase
Analytics Google Firebase, AppsFlyer, Mixpanel
Taxi integration Uber API
SMS Twilio
Email Sendgrid
Mobile app development

Kotlin or Java (Android)

Swift or Objective-C (iOS)

Flutter (Android, iOS)

Back-end development PHP, Node.js
Cloud & servers AWS (Amazon Web Services)
Database MySQL, MangoDB
Analytics Google Firebase, AppsFlyer, Mixpanel
Payment methods Stripe, Braintree, PayPal
Geolocation Google Places API, Google Maps API, Apple Maps API
User registration Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, Instagram
Push notifications Firebase
Taxi integration Uber API
SMS Twilio
Email Sendgrid

The company you work with will help you create an architecture of your application and choose the required technology stack. So, you won’t any problems even if you don’t have previous expertise with mobile app development.

Step 6: Design a Restaurant App

So, now that you know how to build a restaurant app, what’s next?

Of course, you need to create the app design. You need to address one issue with the design – it should offer a smooth user experience.

Restaurant app design is a process consisting of different steps, including:

  • Research – competitor analysis, understanding of the latest trends and best practices will help you create a restaurant app that users will love.
  • UX design – this stage involves the work on sketches and UX wireframes. These are the basis of your application and define how users will interact with the app. The main task of this phase is to create user-friendly navigation and elements layout.
  • Visual design – at this stage, your app gains its visual identity. Designers create mood boards and UI mockups based on the wireframes delivered at the previous stage.
  • Branding – the creation of a unique logo and app elements if that’s required.
  • Animations and illustrations – this is an optional service that allows you to make your app stand out thanks to vivid illustrations or animations.

One designer may cover all of the tasks above or a team of designers will do the job.

Step 7: Develop an App

At this stage, developers create the code base of your application. They implement all of the features, integrate your store with third-party solutions and turn your idea into a real application.

Step 8: Test, Deploy and Launch the App

The restaurant app development process must include these steps. Before releasing the first version of the app to the market, all the features should be tested and all the bugs should be hunted down and fixed. This is one of the ways to ensure that your app will work without a hitch. Only after everything is sorted out can you release the application to the app stores.

Need to help with restaurant app development?

Get in touch with our team for a consultation. We know how to make a restaurant app that will help you achieve your business goals.

Step 9: Start Marketing & Promotion

If you haven’t launched your marketing strategy by this moment, it’s your cue to start rolling it out. Tell the world about your new app through different types of marketing channels, including social media marketing, content marketing, influencer marketing and much more. Before you move in either of the directions, make sure that the channel you choose will help you connect with your target audience.

Step 10: Collect & Analyze User Feedback

App release doesn’t mean the end of restaurant mobile app development. Successful applications share one secret – their creators continue working on them long after the launch. They analyze customer feedback and apply changes to meet customer expectations better. You should follow suit and pay attention to what users are saying about your application.

Step 11: Start Ongoing Development & Support

As mentioned, development is an ongoing process that can go on for months or even years. Implement changes and improvements based on customer feedback, plan to add new functionality, release it and analyze the customer feedback once again. Optimize your app for the latest version of iOS and Android, and don’t forget about updating security protocols.

That’s your secret to creating a restaurant app that will support your business efforts.

Explore Innovative Ideas for Restaurant App Development

Innovative Ideas for Restaurant Mobile App Development

Now let’s discuss some innovative ideas that you can use during the development process. These will help you create a restaurant app that keeps users more engaged.

  • Dish customization

Sometimes, customers might want to customize their order, add some ingredients to the dish or, on the contrary, ask you to remove them from a dish. By allowing them to do that with an app, you can avoid mistakes that can lead to dangerous consequences if a customer is allergic to one of the ingredients.

  • Recipe app

Combine the standard functionality with the recipes book. You may share some of your recipes, some secret techniques and recommendations. This will turn your app from a traditional food ordering solution into an app that users will want to engage with.

  • Kid’s menu

Do you serve dishes for kids? Then add them to your application. This feature is especially useful for family restaurants. Just keep in mind that you will also need to provide a detailed overview of all the ingredients for each meal.

  • Restaurant management app

Why not make the job of your employees a little bit easier by creating a platform for managing back-office processes? Such an app can help automate time-consuming routine tasks, manage and keep track of supplies, schedule kitchen equipment repair times, track analytics and insights, keep track of table reservations, and much more.

  • Order and delivery marketplace

UberEats, Zomato, and DoorDash are some of the most popular food delivery aggregator apps in the world. You might also want to create a food delivery app that will connect restaurants, delivery companies and customers. The app will operate as an intermediary between all these people.

  • Call a waiter

You probably can remember a time or two when you were ready to make an order in a restaurant, but the waiter was nowhere to be found. The call a waiter option can solve the problem for your establishment. By scanning a QR code, customers send a push notification to the waiter’s smartphone and shorten the wait time.

  • AR

Augmented reality solutions are on the rise. You can also use the technology to improve customer experience. Possible options include the ability to preview the restaurant’s interior, make ingredients check, or just entertain customers while they are waiting for their meals.

How Much Does It Cost to Create a Restaurant App?

The cost of restaurant app development may vary based on a number of factors. Typically, small restaurant app development costs $5,000-10,000, medium restaurant app development cwith additional features costs $10,000-50,000 and a restaurant app development cost for a few operating systems, custom design and complex features is $50,000-$280,000.

Want to know how app development cost is calculated?

Check our article covering app the influential factors and development stages

How Much Does It Cost to Make an App for Your Business in 2021

So, why is there such a huge price range, and what does influence it? Let’s find out.

Restaurant app development process consists of different stages. Generally, all the tasks are divided between Discover and Development stages.

Discover stage includes the following services:

  • Business analysis
  • Software architecture
  • UX and UI
  • Project management

Development stage consists of:

  • Early planning
  • Development
  • QA and testing
  • Project management

All these stages together form the final restaurant app development cost.

Below is a table presenting app cost based on the features and supported platforms:

 

Basic app

(simplest functionality, 1 platform)

Medium app

(more complex design and features, 1 platform)

Large app

(complex design and features, 2 platforms, ongoing development & support)

Cost ~$50,000 ~$140,000 ~$280,000+
Timeline ~3-5 months ~5-9 months ~9+ months (ongoing)

Please note that the above cost is approximate and the final price to create your app will depend on a number of factors. Get in touch with us for a detailed restaurant app development cost estimation.

Create a Restaurant App: Bottom Line

As you can see, restaurant app development is a complex process comprising different stages. If you want the process to run smoothly and without unexpected pitfalls, choose an experienced software development company for the job.

Looking for help to create a restaurant app?

Get in touch with us for your project discussion. We would be to discuss your application idea and provide a free quotation. Our expertise is at your service.

🚀Why should I create an app for my restaurant?

There are a number of reasons why you would want to create a restaurant app. In most cases, businesses choose this option when they want to improve customer loyalty, simplify the payment process, increase sales, provide food delivery services, offer special deals and get direct customer feedback.

⚙ What is the process of restaurant app development?

The restaurant mobile app development process consists of different stages. You start app development with market research, identify your business goals and choose an app development company. Then you can move on to selecting the restaurant app features and tech stack, creating design and building the codebase.

💲How much does it cost to make a restaurant app?

Restaurant app development costs may vary from $10,000 to $280,000 and even go beyond. Usually, restaurant app development services cost around $50,000 for a single platform.

📆 How much time does it take to create a restaurant app?

Depending on the complexity of the app you want to create and the number of features that should be implemented, the development process may take from 4 to 9 months and go beyond. A simple app for a single platform usually takes around 3-5 months to create.

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