Overcoming the Top 4 Delivery Obstacles in Your Restaurant

The food delivery service trend is surging throughout America—and not just in urban areas.

Three out of five Americans order delivery or take-out at least once a week, and sales are on track to reach $12.5 billion by 2019.  

Yet, some restaurant owners can encounter a few bumps on the road to successful food delivery service.

Read on to discover four ways to clear the path and reach your restaurant’s delivery goals.

#1: Deliver Speedy Service

Customers have lower tolerances waiting for food delivery than tableside service. The majority who use online food delivery systems say that speed is a “key factor in overall satisfaction.”

Try these strategies to be right on time with food deliveries:

  • Look for faster or alternate routes to use during rush hour. Monitor traffic and road conditions.
  • Use online delivery technology to halve ordering process time. It also provides order status and ETA updates to customers.
  • Try third-party delivery backup to help staff drivers handle a surge in delivery orders.
  • Outsource delivery completely to a pro. Grubhub provides a network of reliable drivers on-demand, manages orders, and takes care of compensating and insuring drivers.

#2: Sweat the Logistical Details

Ask yourself these questions when planning your successful delivery operation:

  • Where will your delivery boundaries be? Consider location, area traffic patterns, and population density.
  • Are there items on your menu not suited for delivery? There may be a few. Create a separate menu for deliveries and take-out.
  • What packaging do you need? Plan to maintain your freshness, temperature, and quality by using the proper materials and techniques for packaging orders.

#3: Keep Your Staff Happy

Your staff will either champion your delivery service or doom it. Do all you can to keep them motivated. Your delivery goals are possible only with their help and follow through.

  • Make training an ongoing priority. Share best practices from order taking, to preparation, to expediting, to packaging, to delivery, and overall customer service.
  • Value everyone on the delivery team. Express how important deliveries are to your overall business success, and how important their role is in helping you achieve your goals. Reward them when they go above and beyond to fulfil a delivery order.  
  • Help them do their jobs better. Implement online ordering technology that streamlines the entire delivery process and helps everyone work most efficiently.

#4: Boost Delivery Efficiencies

Perhaps you already have some sort of a delivery system in place. Yet, maybe it is not operating at peak efficiency, or producing the type of results you expected.

Here are several things to consider:

  • Make sure your restaurant is easy to find. People like to order online. Make sure your website comes up on search engines, is easy to navigate, and you have a presence on social media, food review sites and menu databases
  • Expand your market. Partner with Grubhub to add to your customer base. For instance, restaurants in Minneapolis and Houston had, on average, 68% and 75% (respectively) new customers in just the first six months of joining Grubhub.
  • Increase profits. Leveraging online ordering technology pays off. Restaurants report a 30% increase in takeout order volume after partnering with Grubhub.

We hope these tips will help you blaze your own path to success in food delivery: the next frontier of the restaurant industry.

Go forth and prosper!

Download your roadmap to success: The Restauranteur’s Guide to Delivery.

Image: Pixabay and Pexels

4 Must-Haves For Your Fall Menu

As the heat of summer cools off, it’s time to start thinking about your seasonal fall menu. To help you do just that, here are four food trends that are taking over this fall, along with tips for incorporating them into your menu.

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How to build the perfect delivery menu (it’s easier than you think)

Once upon a time, you were lucky if you had one solid option for food delivery: pizza. Over the last few decades, the number of restaurants offering takeout and delivery has steadily increased. During the pandemic, those statistics rose exponentially.

According to the National Restaurant Association, 68% of adults say they’re more likely to bring home delivery or takeout now versus before the pandemic. Even more exciting is the 53% of adults who say takeout and delivery are now essential to their way of life.

For restaurant owners and operators, these stats translate into endless opportunities. But to succeed at delivery and takeout you need a menu that’s optimized and full of dishes built to travel. Here’s how Grubhub experts suggest building a successful delivery menu made to raise revenue.

Choose your delivery menu items wisely

Your delivery menu should be an extension of your dine-in experience, but not identical. To make life easier on your staff and your customers, audit your menu to identify items that are delivery-friendly.

It also helps to refine your menu to include seven or fewer items in each category. That may mean paring down your salads or entrees to avoid giving customers decision fatigue — that’s when they have so many options, they get overwhelmed and either order less or decide not to order at all.

Keep in mind dishes that may continue to cook during delivery

Delivery timing can be quite challenging. While cold dishes can travel on ice packs and in insulated carriers, some hot dishes are at risk of cooking past their ideal point while they’re on their way to the customer.

Here are some popular dishes to look out for:

Steaks and burgers

Beef is often ordered to a specific temperature, like medium-rare. Once packed hot, steaks and burgers may continue cooking and arrive dried out and chewy.

Ceviche and sushi

Raw fish seems like a relatively easy dish to transport — just keep it cold, right? Not so fast. Ceviche and certain types of sushi are “cooked” by marinating them in citrus. If left in contact with the citric acid for too long, the fish’s proteins will break down past the point of palatability.

Fried foods

Fried food might not continue cooking, but it will steam when packed hot and sealed into tight containers.

Most of these challenges can be tempered by watching your timing. Beef should be picked up and delivered within an hour of cooking. Ceviche and sushi should always be made to order, or in high-volume situations, checked regularly and kept cool until pick-up. As for fried foods, vented containers can help prevent soggy breading.

Pack sauces, creams, and cheeses separately

Few things are less appetizing than wet sandwich bread or hot sour cream half-melted into now-flimsy nachos. When moisture and foods like bread and chips mix, you get a mess. That mess leads to plummeting customer satisfaction and a major issue for your business. Luckily, there’s an easy fix.

All sauces, creams, cheeses, and other wet ingredients should be packed in small plastic containers and sealed with plastic wrap to prevent spills. It’s easy enough for a customer to spoon guacamole on their fish tacos or add gravy to their diner fries. Even ketchup and mustard on a burger can be problematic — those extra condiment packets and vented containers for the potato tots may expand your packaging costs, but customer loyalty is worth the investment.

Offer customers the chance to create their own menu items — but only to a point

Customers love custom dining experiences, which is why build-your-own menu items have become so popular. But for restaurant owners, there’s a fine line between providing enough customization and undermining your own operation (and bottom line). Too many options not only leads to decision fatigue, but it also takes too much power away from the cooks who know what it takes to create a memorable menu item.

Food Service Directors stress the benefits of curation over customization. Rather than giving customers 50 pizza toppings to choose from, give them 15 plus several predetermined combinations that make it easy to choose. It’ll be far simpler to maintain inventory and keep up with tickets during a rush and guests won’t be buried under an avalanche of possibilities. You also won’t have to take responsibility for broccoli, pineapple, and Swiss cheese pie someone took it upon themselves to order and then hated (surprise surprise).

The same concept extends to pricing. Custom options can add up quickly for consumers, but you also don’t want to offer blanket pricing that could leave you out of pocket. One solution is to offer a base price and only charge for premium ingredients such as avocado or imported cheeses. Another option is to play with portions and sizes. For instance, you might charge the same for adding chicken or salmon to a Caesar salad, but the salmon portion maybe 30% less than the serving size of the chicken. Less confusion is a win for all involved.

Always include photos in your delivery menu

Pop quiz: What one change to your delivery menu design can get you 70% more online orders and increase your delivery and takeout sales by 65%? The answer: food photography.  Adding photos to your menu isn’t as important in-house where guests can smell your food and watch dishes hit the tables around them. But when customers are on their couches at home thinking about giving you a try, it’s important to appeal to as many senses as possible.

The team at Fish in Sausalito, CA know how vaknowsle pictures can be to a delivery menu. From a Fish Louie brimming with fresh seafood to a tempting tuna salad sandwich, Fish’s pictures bring their concept to life. As a result, orders and revenue are on the rise.

example of food photos in a delivery menu

Not sure how to get started with menu photos? Grubhub for Restaurants supplies partners with a professional photographer when they sign up!

Now you can show guests what your pho bo or Greek nachos look like and increase the chances they’ll click that “order now” button.

Make sure you include mouthwatering menu descriptions

A whopping 86% of millennials decide to try a new restaurant based on food-related content they see on the internet. Some of the content is on Instagram — hello drool-worthy photos — but a lot of it comes down to the descriptions you include on your delivery menu.

Cayenne, a restaurant in Brooklyn specializing in Nashville hot chicken, has mastered the art of mouthwatering menu descriptions.

example of a strong menu description for a delivery menu

Cayenne’s menu puts the best practices for dish descriptions into good use.

  • Use high-value words like “crunchy” and “creamy” to create a sensory experience
  • Let guests know exactly what they’re getting right down to how a dessert is layered or whether the chicken is spicy
  • Reference the origins or quality of an ingredient, such as if it’s organic or all-natural
  • Describe how a dish is best eaten so guests get the best flavors possible

Find the right packaging for your delivery menu

Once you’ve created a stellar delivery menu, make sure it gets to customers in the right condition by picking out the perfect packaging. Choose containers that:

  • Keep cold and hot elements separate during travel
  • Isolate creams, sauces, dressings, and condiments to avoid getting bread and other crispy/crunchy items wet and soggy
  • Vent hot items like French fries to prevent overcooking and/or steaming
  • Are the right size so you can plate as properly as possible and minimize how much dishes get tossed around

Pairing the right delivery menu with the right delivery partner

You can spend all the time in the world building an incredible delivery menu, but none of it matters if you can’t trust the people carrying your meals to customers. Your delivery partner is an extension of your brand, which is why it’s important to work with a company like Grubhub, that is invested in your success.

When you join Grubhub for Restaurants, you’ll be assigned a dedicated Account Advisor who will work with you to optimize your delivery menu for optimal results. From providing menu consulting services to arranging for a free professional menu shoot to helping you incorporate alcohol into your delivery menus (where allowed by law), Grubhub takes you through the steps necessary to make your delivery and takeout operations the best they can be.

But that’s not all! When you join Grubhub for Restaurants, your menu will be listed on Grubhub Marketplace where over 33 million hungry diners head every day to find their next meal. Finally, all your work gets the audience it deserves.

Ready to get started? Sign up today!

graphic banner illustrating the power of a Grubhub partnership

Revisiting your menu pricing? Use these three methods to strategize like an expert

According to Bloomberg, restaurant owners have reported 2-5%  increases in menu pricing through June 2021. The reason? 

Rising food and wage costs are forcing operators across the country to revisit their margins in an effort to stymie losses and protect their bottom line and their employees. Even Tim Hortons and Burger King have seen beef and mayo prices soar due to supply chain challenges.

For restaurateurs, learning how to raise menu pricing, protect your profit margin, and still keep guests happy is crucial — but it’s also an art form. 

Here are three restaurant menu pricing methods that can help you get a handle on your costs.

The food cost percentage method for menu pricing

Food cost percentage is one of the most important metrics in the restaurant world. It’s also known as Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), which reflects the total cost of all the ingredients in a specific recipe or in a specific time period.

 Understanding your food cost percentage is key to maximizing your restaurant’s profitability and protecting your profit margins. Calculating it determines how much you need to charge customers in order to cover your expenses and still bring in a suitable amount of revenue.

While average food cost percentage differs by restaurant type (quick service vs. fine dining, for example), experts recommend restaurants aim for an average food cost percentage of 28-32%.

How do you calculate food cost percentage?

To determine your food cost percentage, use this formula:

  • Food Costs ÷ Food Sales x 100 = Food Cost Percentage

So, if you spent $3,000 on ingredients and your food sales were $10,000, the calculation would be:

  • Food Costs ($3,000) ÷ Food Sales ($10,000) x 100 = Food Cost Percentage of 30%

To use food cost percentage to price your menu items, simply add up the cost of all the ingredients included in a particular recipe, divide that total cost by your existing or desired food cost percentage, then round off the price (if necessary). So, if you have a dish that costs $6 to make and your target food cost percentage is 30%, the calculation would be:

  • $6.00 ÷ .30 = $20

What is the competition-based pricing strategy?

Just as the name suggests, competition-based menu pricing uses the prices of your competitors as a starting point. The idea is to understand and analyze what market pricing for similar items is like and use that information to make an educated decision regarding your own pricing.

Using this strategy, you can:

  • Match your competitors’ pricing 
  • Undercut your competitors by pricing similar dishes slightly lower and attract customers looking for value
  • Go for a slightly higher price and emphasize value over savings

While competitor-based pricing looks like it relies solely on comparison pricing to help you make a decision, the smarter play is to look at the bigger picture. Use competitor pricing in conjunction with factors like your overall marketing strategy (are you value-oriented or aiming for a high-end guest experience?) and food costs to stay on brand and on budget.

What is the good better best pricing strategy?

The good-better-best pricing strategy, also known as the tiered pricing method, gives customers three options for a product at three different prices. Each offering centers on a core product with higher-priced tiers including an additional item or incentive to entice customers to pay that higher price. 

An example of this might be:

  • Option 1: Hamburger
  • Option 2: Hamburger with fries
  • Option 3: Hamburger with fries and a drink

Each tier adds value and allows the restaurant owner to increase the price while giving customers more choices, avoiding the ultimatum-like feel that comes with a single option. Airlines and movie theaters use the same concept. The economy, business class, or first-class seating customers purchase to get to their destination includes different perks and packages based on the price of the seat.

You see the same concept with software companies, too. Just need basic features? The basic membership is probably fine. But having two additional tiers with more features and a higher membership cost increases customer choices while also boosting revenue.

Experts say good-better-best restaurant menu pricing works because it empowers customers while also helping operators avoid missed opportunities. Opting for a single price all but guarantees you’ll miss out on revenue because there will always be people who would’ve paid more. 

So, if you’re a fine dining restaurant, you could offer:

  • Good: An early-bird menu that caters to early birds with a discounted three-course menu only served before 6:30 pm
  • Better: Your regular menu with its own strategic pricing
  • Best: An exclusive chef’s table experience

What is an example of the tiered pricing method?

To figure out your own good-better-best pricing strategy, follow the “rule of three”:

  • Good pricing: Most inexpensive option
  • Better pricing: Mid-range item
  • Best version: Highest price tag

For example, you can create three versions of the same or similar menu items:

  • Good: Cheese pizza
  • Better: 2-topping pizza
  • Best: Pizza supreme with all the toppings

Or you can bundle an item with other dishes or condiments to increase value and increase your profit margin:

  • Good: Cheese pizza
  • Better: Cheese pizza and a dozen wings
  • Best: Cheese pizza, a dozen wings, and a 2-liter of soda

Bundling can be especially beneficial for restaurant owners because the menu items added at each tier result in a higher price tag but often lower base costs. For instance, wings are traditionally viewed as a value item and the margins on fountain drinks are very appealing. Creating a wings and drink bundle increases the revenue earned with each sale.

Although good-better-best pricing is more apparent in fast food and quick-serve restaurants, it also happens in high-end establishments.

For example:

  • Good: Filet mignon
  • Better: Filet mignon done Oscar style
  • Best: Chateaubriand with confit potatoes and bearnaise sauce, carved tableside

To make the most of your good-better-best pricing, remember these tips

  • Make your prices different enough to appeal to a wide array of customers and clearly separate each choice
  • Consider marketing your options separately as well as together — for instance, cross-promoting your early-bird menu with local theaters that have mid-to-late evening showings
  • Price your “better” option to have the biggest profit margin as the middle option is likely to sell the most
  • Play around with experience-based offerings or add-ons that offer an increase in perceived value without excessively denting your bottom line, like a “best” option that includes post-dinner access to your attached nightclub or personalized service from the house sommelier
  • Remember that the “good” option is not a throwaway — even the cheapest tier should offer good value and represent your brand/concept well

How to communicate restaurant menu pricing increases to your customers

Menu pricing is not a “set it and forget it” endeavor. 

It’s important to regularly revisit your menu pricing and consider whether your strategy needs updating or if it’s time to try something totally new. Things like market fluctuations can drastically impact your pricing almost overnight. 

By offering a solid mix of lower, middle, and higher-priced menu items, you can protect your inventory and your bottom line even when your expenses shift for reasons outside your control.

If or when you decide to make adjustments to your menu pricing, try to do so incrementally to minimize sticker shock. 

In situations where rapid increases are necessary to prevent significant losses to your bottom line, there are ways to navigate the change without upsetting customers — or at least reducing the likelihood you’ll get an avalanche of angry emails and Yelp reviews.

  • Be honest, and let customers know that you have to charge more because your suppliers are charging more, and explain why
  • Increase the perceived value by upgrading the menu description, thereby making the item seem more appealing, or by adding a low-cost side dish or other “bonus” (i.e., adding a scoop of ice cream to your triple-chocolate brownie)
  • Avoid changing the price but compensate by decreasing the portion size or type of ingredients used in the dish

Strategic, effective menu pricing takes patience, practice, and trial and error. It’s important to choose a method that fits into your overall vision and honors your branding, but the pricing also needs to work. If you sell more, you’re onto something. If you don’t, it might be time to start tweaking again.

Looking for more ways to fine-tune your restaurant operations, connect with your community, and boost your traffic? Grubhub for Restaurants offers customizable packages to help you reach your goals.

Restaurant menu design: tips and tools to help you upgrade your menu

Your restaurant menu is a greeting card, resume, and proof of concept all rolled into one. Even if you have a hostess, your menu is the first chance many diners have to see what you’re all about. The ingredients you use, the dishes you offer, and the colors and fonts you choose affect everything from the vibe of your restaurant to how much money a customer will ultimately spend.

Studies show that a strong menu design can boost profits by as much as 15%. That’s the good news.

The flip side of the coin is that a menu that’s poorly designed can leave customers underwhelmed. That’s why a strong menu is key to your restaurant’s marketing plan. To achieve that tantalizing increase in profitability, you need a menu that’s exciting, enticing, and suitable not only for in-person dining but for use on marketplace apps like Grubhub Marketplace.

Here are our top tips and menu maker tools to help you successfully upgrade your restaurant’s menu design and attract more orders.

1. Analyze your menu items and their performance

The first step toward a more profitable menu is to figure out what needs to stay  and what needs to go. It’s easy to get attached to certain menu items, especially those your back-of-house team loves to prepare or items you yourself love to eat. But this analysis needs to be objective — no personal feelings involved.

  • Remove anything that is out of date, incompatible with the current direction of your menu, and/or doesn’t  appeal to your target demographic
  • Look through online reviews and other forms of customer feedback and remove items are consistently rated low or can’t be made consistently
  • If you’re doing more takeout and delivery business, limit the number of dishes that can’t be packaged for takeout while maintaining quality (i.e., crème brûlée, yogurt parfaits, cheese souffle, etc.)
  • Eliminate options that aren’t popular or cost too much money to prepare. Find out the profit margin of each dish by calculating your cost of goods sold and ditch the items that aren’t generating revenue. 

2. Place items strategically on your menu to avoid clutter

As important as it is to evaluate what you’re putting on your menu, you also need to think about where you’re putting those items. Menu design is part science and part art form. The average diner spends less than two minutes scanning their menu before making a decision. That means you have about 109 seconds to direct their attention where you want it to go.

  • Use design tricks (called “eye magnets”) to subconsciously encourage patrons to choose high-priority items. these tools include borders, shaded or colored boxes, asterisks, photos or illustrations, and bold or specialty fonts.
  • Take advantage of white space. Leaving space for readers to relax their eyes can improve reader comprehension by up to 30%, and increase the likelihood customers will order more items. Pro tip: Use menu maker tools that have optimized templates for you to use for on-premise dining menus. 
  • The top and upper right-hand portion of the menu is prime real estate. Reserve it for your best performing and most profitable items.

3. Use mouthwatering words to amp up your menu descriptions

Which sounds better: a burger and fries or a char-grilled Angus beef burger with aged cheddar and hand-cut Idaho fries?

Your menu descriptions should be concise but descriptive. If that sounds contradictory, just think of maximizing your space. Make every word matter. Longer isn’t necessarily better, but if an adjective or specific name of a product will help sell a menu item, then there’s likely value in including it in your description.

For starters, emphasize “yummy words” that are likely to get customers’ stomachs rumbling. Salads are crispy and fresh, barbecue is sticky-sweet and smoky, and desserts are perfectly flaky with a sinful chocolate drizzle. Consider your demographic, too; if you’re catering to an audience that appreciates locally sourced produce or sustainability, work in related buzzwords.

Here are some examples of descriptions that sell: 

  • Tangy St. Lawrence goat cheese with locally farmed beets and a zesty citrus vinaigrette
  • Pillowy gnocchi in a truffle cream sauce, dusted with aged (2-year) Parmesan
  • Grandma’s Sunday meatballs on a freshly baked roll

4. Follow the best practices of menu psychology

Most menu researchers agree that there’s an art to engineering a menu that drives sales. Diners have a habit of scanning a menu in a particular pattern, starting with the upper right-hand corner. This is why you’ll often find steakhouses displaying their pricey seafood platters here and even diners make use of the “sweet spot” by offering beef short rib benedicts or smoked salmon omelets. If you outline that high-profit item or category with a bold border and use an ornate font you’re even more likely to grab guests’ attention.

Other psychological tricks for restaurant menus include:

  • Avoiding choice overload by limiting menu options to seven items or less per category. Sometimes more is just more, and guests may get overwhelmed and decide to order less (or nothing at all) because they can’t make up their minds.
  • Leading with an expensive item to make every dish that follows seem more reasonably priced.
  • Relying on the power of certain colors to guide guests’ emotions. For instance, red is a stimulating color linked to increased appetite and yellow begs for attention — a combination favored by one of the most successful restaurant franchises on the planet.

5. Rethink the way you determine and write your pricing (hint: no more dollar signs!)

Restaurants of all types and sizes are dropping the dollar sign from their menus, and it’s not just because it looks nice. Diners who look at menu items priced using dollar signs are more likely to make a strong financial association to that item. As a result, they choose cheaper options. Instead, keep pricing simple, using just a numerical value with blank space between the menu description and the price.

Example:

  • Crispy-skin Jidori chicken, herbed spaetzle, sunchoke puree     22

It’s also crucial to be strategic and deliberate about your pricing. The cost of a dish should reflect the ideal food cost percentage of 25-30% (fine dining restaurants typically sit slightly higher at 35%). If a cheeseburger costs you $4 to make, it should cost customers roughly $13 to $16.

If you need to lower your food costs to keep menu prices within reach of your target demographic, try working with your distributors, using seasonal menu ingredients, and tweaking portion sizes.

6. Avoid using PDF menus on your restaurant’s website

Here’s some food for thought:

  • Some 61% of all Google searches originate from a mobile device
  • 90% of consumers say they’ll look up a restaurant online before dining
  • 52% of consumers say that a poor mobile experience will make them less inclined to interact with a company

Using a PDF to display your restaurant’s menu automatically violates best practices of mobile optimization because it forces people to download a file that doesn’t read well on a tiny screen. In other words, it makes it difficult for all those smartphone and tablet users to easily access your menu and place an order. 

Instead, consider offering an online menu, like Grubhub Direct, that’s interactive and made specifically for mobile users. That way customers don’t have to work to find what they want, and they can order directly from you.

7. Include menu photos

The right picture can transform a mystery dish into a new favorite and make comfort food exciting again. That’s why restaurants that use photos in their menus get 70% more online orders and 65% more delivery and takeout sales. 

Food photographers know just how to capture dishes so that they look utterly crave-worthy. You don’t want to overdo the visuals, though, so pick and choose your moments. Save the pictures for items you really want to push or those that might need the extra explanation.

4 Restaurant menu maker tools and resources to help amp up your menu design

Ready to get designing? Here are four affordable menu maker tools that will help you create your next winning restaurant menu:

Online ordering menu maker tool: Grubhub Direct

This branded online ordering solution lets you take commission-free orders from your customers via a customized website that features your logo, photos, and menu.

On-premise dining menu maker tool: Adobe Spark

Create custom menus with Adobe Spark that you can print and use for indoor dining. Adobe Spark is a menu maker that makes it easy to design professional menus that are full of personality.

Additional in-person dining menu maker tool: Canva

Similar to Adobe Spark, Canva has a ton of menu maker templates that you can use for on-premise menus.  Combine your own logos and photos with stock imagery and professional menu templates from Canva to generate masterpieces that look like they took weeks to create, not just a few minutes.

Menu design inspiration: Pinterest

Stuck for inspiration? Visit Pinterest to see what competitors are up to and what’s capturing your customers’ attention.

Menu design is one of the most dynamic and flexible parts of your overall marketing plan. When you join Grubhub, you get access to free menu consulting services to help you optimize your menu for online ordering success as well as a free professional menu photoshoot.

Looking for ways to get your menu to customers? When you join Grubhub for Restaurants you’ll get access to advanced technology that will make it easy for you to create an online menu for your own website! 

Ready to get started? Sign up today!

Food Trends 2021: What diners are ordering online this year

Plant-based takes on classics, spicy southern flavor, and thirst-quenching alcoholic beverages are big hits in 2021 based on Grubhub’s mid-year State of the Plate report. As restaurants continue to reopen and customers are returning to in-person dining, it’s more important than ever that restaurateurs capture these popular food trends in their menus.

Adding trendy foods to your menu will allow you to capture customers’ favorite flavors and position your restaurant as a frontrunner as the seasons change. The team at Grubhub looked at thousands of daily orders to see what exactly diners are ordering and how these ordering habits have increased since 2020.



What are the popular food trends of 2021?

Here’s a breakdown of the dishes that have shaped 2021 thus far and a look into what we can expect to see more of in the second half of the year:

Vegan and plant-based dishes are growing

Eating veggies doesn’t have to be grueling when chefs put a plant-based take on classics. More and more diners are looking for ways to incorporate healthy eating and prioritize meat-free diets with plant-based alternatives. 

Wondering how you can tap into this growing food trend? Consider adding a plant-based spin on your menu staples to reach vegan and health-conscious customers. 

The plant-based sausage wrap is the trendy food dish of 2021, growing in popularity by a staggering 549% since last year. Here are the top five plant-based dishes that are sprouting in 2021:

  1. Plant-based sausage wrap: (+549%)
  2. Barbecue cauliflower wing: (+302%)
  3. Mushroom & tofu broth ramen: (+299%)
  4. Sauteed string bean + garlic: (+264%)
  5. Grilled vegetable hummus bowl: (+242%)

Learn how one restaurant owner is finding success with his plant-based menu

Founder and Director Adam Weiss is on a bold mission to grow Honeybee Burger as the nation’s first plant-based fast-food burger chain.

Honeybee Burger takes a vegan twist on fast-food classics. Their burgers are crafted with Beyond or Impossible plant-based “meat” and topped with house-made onion jam, lettuce, tomato, and pickles. Honeybee Burger also serves a plant-based take on a chicken sandwich, breakfast sandwich, and a breakfast burrito that keeps customers drooling for more.

With these unique plant-based takes on fast-food classics, Honeybee Burger has established themselves as a neighborhood staple while showing diners a vegan menu can be irresistibly mouthwatering. Learn more about Honeybee Burger’s story and how they use Grubhub to maximize their business.

Nashville hot chicken sandwiches are all the rage

You don’t need to be located in the heart of Tennessee to throw this spicy fan favorite on your menu. The Nashville hot chicken sandwich saw a 327% increase in popularity this year.

Learn how one restaurateur is tapping into the Nashville hot chicken food trend with a virtual restaurant

Chef Hillary Sterling has brought the fire of Nashville hot chicken to New York City with her virtual restaurant Cayenne. 

Cayenne is known for its signature to take on the Nashville hot chicken sandwich and its staple southern sides. Their Chicken n’ Fixin plates and spicy cornbread and fries have fed the cravings of diners all across the city.

Chef Sterling saw a need for southern comfort up East but didn’t want to undertake to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Instead, she was able to craft a delivery-only restaurant and list it on Grubhub Marketplace to bring Nashville’s hot flavor directly to the homes of hungry diners.

Learn more about how Cayenne captured popular food trends in 2021 by opening a virtual restaurant.

Southern-inspired side dishes reign supreme

Diners are craving southern flavor in smaller dishes as well. Southern-inspired recipes have proven to be a fan favorite for side dishes this year. Here are the top five side dishes in 2021:

  1. Cajun fries: (+630%)
  2. Red beans and rice: (+612%)
  3. Corn chowder (+603%)
  4. Jalapeno bites: (+465%)
  5. Biscuits and gravy: (+368%)

Wondering how you can capture this trend in your delivery and takeout sales? Take a look at your side dish menu options and see if there are opportunities to add new side dishes relevant to your menu and cuisine type. Incorporating side dishes is a great way to increase your average order size.

Alcoholic beverage orders are on the rise

The pandemic has allowed more restaurants across the country to deliver alcoholic beverages to customers. Diners have jumped on board with this concept, selecting top orders ranging from light beer, tropical cocktails, and a brunch favorite. Here are the top ten trending alcohol orders:

  1. Dutch lager 
  2. Hot sake 
  3. Japanese beer 
  4. Hibiscus margarita 
  5. Blood orange margarita 
  6. Aperol spritz 
  7. Hard seltzer 
  8. Peach Paloma 
  9. Pina colada 
  10. Mimosa

Did you know you can sell alcoholic beverages on Grubhub?

Restaurants who join Grubhub in select markets can add alcohol to their delivery and takeout menu. Listing alcohol options on your menu can increase the average order value by $14-$15, and restaurants that have these options can see 8% of orders containing an alcohol menu item.

Alcohol delivery is only available in certain markets so you should speak with a Grubhub representative first to learn if this opportunity is available to you!

Hungry diners are ordering breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night snacks

There’s no quiet ordering time for hungry diners, which means there are endless opportunities to capture new sales. Here are the top five dishes diners are ordering throughout the day:

Breakfast drinks are on the rise:

  1. Mocha iced coffee: (+351%) 
  2. Chorizo breakfast burrito: (+318%) 
  3. Acai bowl: (+297%) 
  4. Mango pineapple smoothie: (+207%) 
  5. Shrimp & grits: (+178%)

Lunch diners are craving chicken:

  1. Thai chicken salad: (+324%) 
  2. Chicken pot pie soup: (+278%) 
  3. Chicken pesto sandwich: (+261%) 
  4. Strawberry poppyseed salad and chicken: (+202%) 
  5. Caribbean jerk chicken wrap: (+198%)

Dinner customers are choosing Indian-inspired dishes:

  1. Vegetable samosa: (+260%) 
  2. Hawaiian teriyaki chicken skewers: (+247%) 
  3. Eel avocado roll: (+244%) 
  4. Tandoori chicken: (+220%) 
  5. Seaweed salad: (+215%)

Late-night diners are looking for a comfort food fix:

  1. Pizza puff: (+294%) 
  2. Strawberry cheesecake: (+269%) 
  3. Buffalo chicken pizza: (+244%) 
  4. Buffalo wings: (+234%) 
  5. Hot fudge sundae: (+209%)

Capturing customers’ cravings throughout the day takes strategy. 

Look into your menu to see if there is an opportunity to cross-utilize ingredients and offer delivery and takeout options that target different meal times. 

If you are looking for a way to balance the flow of customer demand, consider opening a virtual restaurant that is specifically designed for popular meal times. Read more about the virtual restaurant possibilities and how you can incorporate this into your business.

What is the next food trend?

Getting ahead of the next food trends can help your restaurant predict customers’ ordering patterns and maximize potential revenue. The weather tends to affect diners’ eating habits, so looking into which orders rose the most this past winter and spring can give insight into what diners are looking for.

Here’s what Grubhub is expecting according to our recent State of the Plate report.

Top Food Trends: Winter

  1. Short rib rigatoni: (+270%) 
  2. Corned beef and cabbage: (+219%) 
  3. Butternut squash soup: (+154%) 
  4. Grilled chicken avocado sandwich: (+131%) 
  5. Chicken dum biryani: (+124%)

Top Food Trends: Spring

  1. Margherita pizza: (+283%) 
  2. Strawberry lemonade freeze: (+210%) 
  3. Peanut butter sundae: (+194%) 
  4. Spicy chicken sandwich: (+165%) 
  5. Chicken bacon ranch melt” (+154%)

Here are the dishes predicted to have high demand in the summer and fall:

Forecasts: Summer (in ranking order):

  1. Loaded chicken nachos 
  2. Barbecue pork quesadilla 
  3. Watermelon slushy 
  4. Strawberry shortcake sundae 
  5. Heirloom tomato salad



Fall Forecast (in ranking order):

  1. Vegan mapo tofu 
  2. Truffle mushroom swiss burger 
  3. Raspberry cheesecake 
  4. Cookie & cream milkshake 
  5. Pumpkin cupcake

Takeout and delivery is booming in 2021

Capitalizing on the biggest food trends in 2021 also means finding the right avenue to reach customers- and that’s where Grubhub comes in. Grubhub can help you reach new hungry customers eager to order from local restaurants (just like yours!).


Tap into takeout and delivery to bring these trends to diners by signing up with Grubhub for Restaurants.

5 Elements Your Restaurant Website Needs to Boost Online Orders

Digital food ordering is more than a passing fad; it has become a way of life for most adults in America. Moreover, the online food-delivery market is expected to continue growing over the next several years.

To meet this increasing demand and boost your online ordering strategy, work these five elements into your website:

1. A Modern Design

Lack of functionality is the top reason diners will abandon an online order. Update your website with these two modern standards that today’s online ordering customers demand:

Make it Responsive

Responsive web designs customize your website on the fly so that it displays correctly on all devices: computers, tablets, and smartphones.

Make it Mobile-ready

Grubhub reports that 77% of online restaurant and bar searches begin from a mobile device. Limit scrolling and zooming by placing critical elements such as “menu” and “order” buttons in the top half of the screen.

2. A Functional Menu

Your menu showcases and sells your food, so make it accessible and informative.

Avoid PDFs

PDF versions of your menu are clumsy, requiring customers to zoom and scroll. Text menus are editable, easier for the customer to explore, and search engine-friendly.

Give information

Customers prefer ordering online because they have time to peruse the menu and ensure their order is correct. Provide detailed descriptions so there are no unanswered questions—or risk losing their order.

Make it customizable

 With Grubhub, customers can easily personalize their orders by switching out ingredients and choosing specifications on how they want their food prepared.

3. An Easy Ordering Process

Online ordering platforms deliver the speed and convenience customers expect, with benefits to the restaurant as well:

Make it Faster

 Orders placed through Grubhub take only 45 seconds (on average) to process—that’s less than half the time of an average phone order (two minutes).

Ensure Accuracy

 With pre-determined options to choose from, customers can order—and kitchens can produce—accurately.

Offer Convenience

 Online ordering platforms store ordering history and preferences so customers can view prior orders and even re-order in as little as one click. This customized experience fosters customer loyalty and satisfaction.

4. Appetizing Images

Images can enhance customers’ online ordering experience. Using images improves speed and accuracy, and can increase sales by 30% (Grubhub).

Showcase actual menu items

Use custom (never stock) images to increase familiarity and generate interest in your dishes.

Stage photos

Grubhub recommends photographing food right away in natural lighting, garnishing, and plating sauces separately.

Upcycle user pics

Repurpose great images customers have taken and posted on social media (with their permission).

5. Social Media Links

Today’s savvy online customers want to see ratings, reviews, and be connected with the businesses they patronize. Stay relevant on your social media sites and link to them so customers can learn more and be engaged:

Get Involved

Stay active on as many review sites as you can. Encourage customers to write reviews, and make sure to respond to all reviews.

Start a Trend

Grubhub suggests posting pictures of select dishes using a branded hashtag and Hemofilter overlay to encourage Instagram and other social media foodies to do the same.

Enhance Your Presence

Use these tips from Grubhub to get the most out of Facebook. Also, adjust your page’s settings so diners can “check-in” and leave reviews.

By keeping your website up-to-date with these simple elements, you can catch the wave of this rapidly-expanding online ordering market.

Ready to get started with Grubhub for Restaurants? Sign up today!

5 Tips for Designing Menus That Lead to More Orders

Your menu is the marketing cornerstone of your restaurant. It significantly influences customers’ ordering decisions.

By implementing a few design and item placement basics, you can navigate customers purposefully through your menu to influence their ordering choices.

Here are six quick tips to help you structure and design a menu leading to more orders and maximized profits.

#1: Analyze Your Menu Items

First, look at your existing menu. Ensure all items on it are performing well and are profitable. Make any necessary cuts or adjustments before moving on to the redesign phase.

  • Trim the fat: According to RestaurantBusinessOnline, streamlined menus mean happier customers. Create a lean and mean menu that offers your customers a variety of dishes while removing unnecessary or unprofitable items.
  • Stick with your brand: Remove items that no longer appeal to your demographic or are mismatched with your overall concept.

#2: Place Items Strategically

According to Gallup, the average diner takes only 109 seconds to scan a menu (rather than reading front-to-back).

You can strategically place items on your menu that will make an impact and quickly influence customer selection:

  • Hit the “sweet spot”: The top/top right-hand portion is the prime location for your best performing items.
  • Position items purposefully: When scanning, people notice the top two items in a section, and then the last. Place your highest-margin items in these spots. Menu Engineers  suggest no more than seven items per section.

#3: Highlight Items You Want to Sell

Use the below “eye magnets” sparingly to call attention to targeted menu items of your choice, which subconsciously encourages customers to order them:

  • Borders
  • Shaded or colored boxes
  • Bold or specialty fonts
  • Graphics, illustrations, and photographs
  • Asterisks
  • Negative or “white” space around a section

#4: Write Imaginative Descriptions

Well-written descriptions can increase sales up to 30%. Grubhub offers these suggestions to inspire customers to order, and paint an accurate picture so they know what to expect:

  • Keep it Brief
  • Appeal to Customers’ Senses
  • Speak to your Demographic

#5: Practice Subtlety in Pricing

By softening prices on your menu, you can guide your customers to make choices based on ingredients, quality and technique—and not on price alone.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Eighty-six the $: Use a little psychology and remove dollar signs from prices.
  • Be discreet: Put prices after the descriptions, and don’t ever use leader dots—they reduce items to mere price tags.
  • Choose “charm” prices: Ending a price with .99 or .95 makes it seem more affordable and friendly to customers.

These few tips will help you increase your profitability, while actually making your menu easier for customers to digest.

Learn how to take great food pictures that can increase a menu item’s sales up to 30%.

Ready to reach new customers and grow your business with Grubhub? Sign up today!

Photo: Pexels

Nashville

Bringing New Business to
Nashville Restaurants

From freshly-baked biscuits to hot chicken, there’s no shortage of options for hungry Nashville residents. Grubhub — the nation’s leader in online and mobile food ordering — is helping deliver such classics to customers all across Music City, U.S.A.

Grubhub’s Impact in Nashville

Online ordering and delivery can increase your business. Just look at our most successful restaurant partners in {Nashville}, who saw¹:

Friday

Busiest day for online order

71%

Average percent of new customers in the first 6 months

Dinner

Most popular time to order

¹Restaurant performance metrics based on 2016 Grubhub data.

Why Grubhub?

Greater order volume

Bring in an average of 30% more takeout orders once you join Grubhub.

On-demand delivery drivers

Reduce staffing concerns by using our team of trusted delivery drivers.

Faster order processing

With Grubhub’s online ordering platform, you can cut order processing time in half.

Increased marketing

Grubhub’s marketing resources can help spread the word about your restaurant.

Get more orders

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Minneapolis

Ringing in orders for
Minneapolis Restaurants

From cheese-stuffed burgers to hot dish, Grubhub helps Minneapolis restaurants deliver their food all across the City of Lakes. Discover how the nation’s leader in online and mobile food ordering can extend your delivery footprint and grow your business.

Grubhub’s Impact in Minneapolis

With online ordering and delivery, increasing sales has never been easier. Our restaurant partners in Minneapolis saw¹:

Friday

Busiest day for online order

75%

Average percent of new customers in the first 6 months

Dinner

Most popular time to order

¹Restaurant performance metrics based on 2016 Grubhub data.

Why Grubhub?

Increased order

Restaurants’ takeout order volume increases an average of 30% annually after joining Grubhub.

Trusted drivers

Leverage Grubhub’s network of on-demand delivery drivers to get the support you need at a moment’s notice.

Quicker order processing

Grubhub’s online platform significantly reduces order processing time.

Effective marketing initiatives

Raise brand awareness while rewarding loyal customers.

Get more orders

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.