Food quality & to-go food containers: what all restaurants need to know

Restaurant industry sales are poised to hit a massive $1.2 trillion by 2030, and experts expect off-premise traffic to be an enormous factor in that meteoric growth. As a result, owners and operators increasingly recognize the need to offer multiple access points for hungry diners eager to get their hands on everything from avocado tacos to zeppole.

But how do you maintain food quality during delivery?

Successful food delivery depends on two things: partnering with the right third-party delivery partner and being strategic with your to-go food containers. 
Sustainable packaging, secure lids, cold packs, and more follow this expert advice and see how your new approach to packaging sends your restaurant sales and customer satisfaction rates soaring.

What Are the Best To-Go Food Containers for Restaurant Delivery?

When it comes to food delivery packaging, there are three things to look for to help ensure the dishes your kitchen creates arrive at their destination in the best possible shape:


Look for packaging that has a strong seal, and that can support the food it contains.

Piling a sauce-laden lamb shank into a flimsy Styrofoam clamshell has the potential for disaster, but a sturdy plastic dish with a tight-fitting lid reduces the likelihood of breakage and spills.

Condensation can be a concern too, so consider vented containers to help keep fried food from getting soggy.


Oversized containers allow food to shift around and make portion sizes look tiny. Undersized containers lead to spillage. Invest in containers in a variety of sizes and use the right one for each dish.

Loose Lids

Choose packaging that comes with sturdy, reliable lids and double-check those lids are securely attached before you send orders out the door.


Branded containers double as restaurant marketing. Invest in branded containers or buy a personalized stamp and customized bulk bags as you go. 

Don’t forget branding is about your messaging and vision as well. For instance, if you emphasize sustainability in terms of ingredients, your packaging should be eco-friendly, too.

Millennials and Generation-Z care about sustainable delivery containers

Going green isn’t just good for the environment; it’s also smart business. Generation Z and millennial diners are more sustainability-conscious than any other generation. They’re also more likely to pay close attention to corporate responsibility.

Gen Z alone wields some $29 billion in purchasing power and over $333 billion in influence. Connecting with these powerful demographics means paying attention to not only where you get your food but what you put it in.

When choosing sustainable food delivery containers, keep these tips in mind:

  • Plastic may be durable, but it’s a poor choice for the environment.
  • Paper/cardboard containers are biodegradable but don’t hold up well to wet foods.
  • Recycled paperboard containers take advantage of existing materials and are both compostable and fluorine-free (look for the green seal as an indicator of authenticity)
  • Bioplastic (biodegradable plastic) offers the functionality of traditional plastic without the risk to the planet.
  • Aluminum foil containers are eco-friendly and non-absorbent but lack sturdiness and durability.
  • Recyclable containers can be reused for a longer lifespan or recycled after their initial use.

Most restaurants will use a mix of materials, using cardboard for “dry” dishes like pizza and flatbread and turning to bioplastic bowls to handle pasta and salads. 

Keep in mind that the same characteristics and concerns extend to disposable cutlery — people need utensils, but no one wants to eat a steak with a thin knife.

restaurant owner reducing food waste through sustainable restaurant practices

Are you interested in learning more about sustainable restaurant practices? Check out our article How to Reduce Food Waste and Become a More Sustainable Restaurant.

How do you package food for delivery to ensure quality?

How you package your dishes is essential in protecting your food quality during travel. Here are some things to consider when you are packaging food for delivery:


Separating hot and cold items into different containers and bags helps ensure everything arrives at the proper temperature. Some restaurants even go as far as removing cold items like sliced onion, tomato, and lettuce from a burger and packaging it separately so diners can reassemble their order at home.

Prepare cold foods right before pick up, so they don’t sit longer than necessary. Of course, you can’t always control what happens once an item leaves your restaurant, but you can do your best to send off your milkshakes and poke in tip-top shape.


Place all liquids in their own containers to keep them safe and secure during transit. This also allows customers to regulate how much sauce or dressing they add to their own food. Double-check the fit of your lids and ensure your delivery drivers use insulated bags during the delivery process. 

At Grubhub, every delivery driver is provided an insulated delivery bag and training to ensure they protect the quality of your food during transit. Learn more delivery tips in our latest article: Ready to tap into Grubhub Delivery? Here are four tips to ensure success.

Food Safety

Think of all the warnings your front-of-house staff would give diners when handing over a mirror — and then add some. All packaging should include the appropriate heat warnings to prevent accidental scalds or burns, plus tamper-evident seals and packaging that gives consumers plenty of confidence in your product.

Hot and Fried Foods

Using vented containers for fried food is essential in protecting their flavor and preventing condensation. 

For “wet” dishes like chicken curry and Denver omelets, that condensation can drip back onto the food and create a layer of flavorless moisture that makes for a pretty unappetizing meal.

 For fried dishes, condensation can be the kiss of death. 

Using vented containers that allow moisture to escape will help mitigate sogginess.

Take extra steps when packaging your takeout orders 

In hospitality, it’s often the details that separate you from your competitors. In food delivery, that means paying attention to your food quality, packaging, and how the two come together.

Arrange food so that it’s not only visually appealing but also likely to arrive in the best condition possible. That can mean tamping down on your artistic side and letting realism take the lead. If you’re struggling to find realistic ways to package your delivery food and adhering to your budget, it may be time to adjust your menu to include food designed to taste delicious and also travel well.

Maintaining Food Quality With Grubhub Delivery

Maintaining food quality is vital to your restaurant’s future, which is why it’s essential to Grubhub, too. We understand the importance of protecting the integrity of your product.

For many owners and operators, joining Grubhub has been an opportunity to step up their game without sacrificing customer service or taking on the responsibility of building a delivery infrastructure and spearheading complicated marketing campaigns. “Grubhub Delivery is protecting our food quality,” explains Jeff LaPadula, General Manager of NYC’s P.S. Kitchen. “Grubhub’s professional drivers and insulated bags absolutely protect our food quality, even as delivery demand increases.”

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

Learn how the Grubhub Delivery process protects your reputation

Crafting a perfect food delivery experience requires strategy and efficient execution. After restaurants build a menu and whip up delicious dishes, they turn to delivery drivers to get their food to customers. 

But what really happens when restaurants hand off their packaged orders to drivers?

At Grubhub, we understand how restaurants trust our drivers to deliver their orders to diners. That’s why we are introducing the driver part of our team to let restaurants know how we prioritize food safety, and quality as dishes make their way to hungry customers.

How does Grubhub Delivery work?

1. Customer places an order

The delivery process begins when a customer places an order on the Grubhub app. When they place an order, a customer can add special instructions about preparing and delivering the order. You will be able to view these special instructions when the order comes in on your Grubhub for Restaurants app.

2. The restaurant accepts and prepares orders

After an order is placed at your restaurant, you will immediately receive a notification via email or the Grubhub for Restaurants app. You can manage and view orders through your Grubhub tablet or your own device. Additionally, we offer POS integration with popular POS providers. Learn more here.  

While your chefs are busy preparing an order, the Grubhub app will automatically find a driver who can deliver the order when it’s ready.

Before you finish putting together an order, make sure you package each item correctly. Use containers that fit the size and temperature of your dishes, and be sure to seal each container tightly. Our drivers are instructed not to open packaging for food safety reasons, so it’s up to you to check the food one final time before it’s ready to go.

Learn more about delivery and takeout packaging best practices here.

3. The driver accepts and picks up the order

Timing delivery is essential in ensuring food safety and quality. That’s why you can expect Grubhub delivery drivers to be quick and efficient when they pick up the orders that you prepare. Jeff LaPadula, general manager of P.S. Kitchen in New York City, has noticed how the Grubhub Delivery drivers in his area are punctual and attentive when accepting deliveries.

“When we mark something is ready for delivery– a Grubhub Delivery driver is here within minutes, and this helps keep our customers happy as well as protects our food quality,” Jeff said.

To make your delivery process more efficient, we recommend using materials from your free Grubhub Welcome Kit to signal where your pickup area is so drivers can easily find where to go.

4. The Grubhub Driver delivers order

Once a driver secures an order from your restaurant, they will follow directions on the Grubhub for Drivers app to the diner’s delivery location. While our drivers have different ways to reach their destination — some in their cars and some on bikes –their routes are optimized to get food to diners as quickly as possible and ensure food safety. 

At Grubhub, we use data analytics and personalized advice from Account Advisors to help your restaurant create delivery zone boundaries that optimize your customer reach while protecting food quality.

The final step is to bring the order to the customer’s door. After this handoff is complete, the driver will mark the finished order on their Grubhub for Drivers app so that you can be confident that your meal made it to the diner.

Protecting your restaurant on the road

We know restaurants put time into crafting mouthwatering dishes, which is why we employ professional delivery drivers. 

Grubhub drivers use Grubhub insulated delivery bags to ensure temperature control and food safety throughout the delivery. Insulated delivery bags maintain dishes’ temperature while controlling moisture to preserve freshness. They also help prevent orders from getting jostled around during transit.

To protect the safety of our customers, drivers, and restaurant partners during the pandemic, we offer customers the ability to choose contact-free delivery and curbside pickup. 

With contact-free delivery, customers can request their order be placed at a specified delivery location without interaction. As a restaurant partner, you can select curbside pickup, enabling you to limit contact inside your restaurant by giving an order to a delivery driver. 

No matter what delivery methods you choose, you can ensure our drivers can properly deliver your food while following proper hygiene procedures.

Learn more about our contact-free delivery program here.

The faces behind our delivery fleet

Who’s behind the wheel taking your orders to hungry diners? Our drivers are members of your communities who are looking to serve restaurants through flexible schedules. 

All drivers are professionals who go through background checks and are vetted by Grubhub before they start delivering. But, most importantly, they are people who care about successfully and safely delivering food to diners.

Chad is a Grubhub Driver, smiling and using food safety best practices in his job

Chad, a 26-year-old artist from Chicago, uses the flexibility as a Grubhub Driver to support his family while continuing his passion for art.

Chad sees driving for Grubhub as more than just a clock-in and clock-out job. He appreciates the interactions he has with restaurateurs and customers alike.

So what does Chad tell other drivers? “Always be respectful to restaurant workers. They play an important role in this world of delivery. And sometimes, you might even get free food!”

38-year-old Martiecita delivers for Grubhub around her full-time job. Martiecita is a former bartender who turned to delivery when the pandemic hit, so she understands the ins and outs of the restaurant industry. As a single mother, driving for Grubhub allows Martiecita to spend time with her daughter while making extra cash. 

Grubhub Driver delivering with food safety best practices

Bring your restaurant’s dishes to hungry customers with Grubhub Delivery

At Grubhub, protecting your restaurant’s dishes on the road remains our top priority. We’ve fine-tuned our delivery process and given restaurateurs and drivers the tools to make seamless deliveries.

Our drivers are professionals you can trust to deliver your food following food safety best practices.

Ready to reach more customers through delivery? Get started with Grubhub for Restaurants today.

Join Grubhub for Restaurants today

How to optimize your restaurant delivery & takeout operations for success

As more customers opt to have their meals delivered, restaurant managers and owners are looking for new ways to tighten up delivery operations. But to improve your delivery service, you have to evaluate your delivery and identify areas for growth.

There are two key metrics to consider when measuring the efficiency of your restaurant delivery strategy:


Your customers love your food, but they especially love it when it’s delivered on time. Keep an eye on how much time it takes between a customer placing an order and when it arrives. Restaurants that partner with Grubhub for food delivery services get access to technology that enables them to provide accurate delivery estimates to customers as well as update them if there are any delays.

Order Accuracy

Digging into a fresh order of delivered food is like opening a present, but one wrong item can feel like receiving a gift you didn’t ask for. Do your best to double-check orders by encouraging both your dispatcher and delivery driver to check the order before it goes out the door.

Let’s explore how to optimize your restaurant delivery and takeout strategy for success. 

How to optimize delivery and takeout at each step of the ordering process 

Running a successful restaurant delivery operation requires checking your efficiency each step of the way. Here are some things to consider as you get your dishes out the door:

What you should do before accepting delivery or takeout orders 

Creating an efficient delivery process begins before you even accept an order. Partnering with a third-party delivery service can allow you to organize your restaurant delivery operations. Here are four tips for getting your delivery program off to the right start.

Train your staff

Make sure your team is trained on your delivery process and how to use your delivery partner platforms, such as Grubhub for Restaurants. Make it clear to your in-house employees who are in charge of bagging orders and having them ready to go for drivers.

Organize orders

Designate a clear spot for delivery and to-go orders to be picked up. You can update any special instructions for Grubhub drivers using the Grubhub for Restaurants platform.

Optimize your menu

Reduce special requests from customers by listing all possible menu add-on options. Check out our tips for creating the perfect delivery menu.

Check your boundaries

It is important that the delivery boundaries you set for your restaurant can reach the most customers without sacrificing food quality or delivery speed. Learn how easy it is to adjust your delivery boundary with Grubhub in this Help Center article.

How to prepare your delivery and takeout orders

Once your chefs are done cooking up an order, provide a status on the ticket online so that a driver can be assigned and the customer can be updated on the estimated delivery time. 

Before you send the order off, re-read the full ticket to catch any add-ons or special instructions. Finally, label each item with the customer name and the menu item to ensure you prepared everything on the ticket.

Packing orders for delivery and pick-up

All takeout and delivery orders should be packaged together in easy-to-carry bags. Make sure you mark each item as “packed” on the ticket after placing it in the bag. As you package up an order, be mindful of best practices.

Pack hot and cold items separately

Hot dishes that tend to cool faster should be in tight, insulated boxes and transported with insulated delivery bags.

Label correctly

Attach the ticket to one bag and label all bags with the customer’s name.

Choose the right packaging

Your food delivery containers should be durable and the right size for each portion. Be intentional about what material packaging you use for certain dishes.

Seal bags securely

Make sure all containers are clicked into place, and staple delivery bags to ensure all items are secure for transportation.

Learn more about delivery packaging best practices here.

Handing off delivery and takeout orders

The final step is to get the order ready for pickup, either by the customer or delivery driver. Make sure you designate a specific area in your restaurant that delivery drivers and to-go customers can easily find their orders. It can help to have an employee watch over the to-go order area to ensure the orders are going to the right person.

Successful delivery and takeout operations serve happy customers

We know restaurateurs work tirelessly to feed their hungry customers, but sometimes it can be challenging to understand what exactly your customers want and need. Running a smooth delivery operation for your business requires you to understand your customers. 

Partnering with a food delivery service, like Grubhub, can provide you more than just the logistics. Restaurants that sign up with Grubhub for Restaurants also get access to customer data that can help you analyze customer ordering habits and manage inventory so you can adjust delivery times and staffing accordingly. You can even offer promotions catered directly to your customers to encourage them to keep placing takeout and delivery orders from your restaurant.

Improve your delivery operations by partnering with a third party delivery provider 

Ensuring that each order that leaves your restaurant meets timeliness and accuracy standards can be overwhelming. That’s why restaurants partner with third-party delivery service providers, like Grubhub, to ease the burden of coordinating operations and managing deliveries. 

Outsourcing food delivery with a third-party delivery service gives you access to professional, experienced drivers when you need them. Tapping into a third-party delivery fleet is an innovative way to reduce delivery time during unexpected rush periods and reduce food delivery costs such as insurance and hourly wages. This way, you can smoothly get orders to your customers.

It’s time to get delivery right with Grubhub

We get it– there’s a lot that goes into improving your delivery. Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. That’s why restaurants are partnering with Grubhub to make sure their dishes reach their hungry customers safely and efficiently. This way, all you have to do is oversee your staff and restaurant setup, and you can trust Grubhub to do the rest.
Ready to reach more customers through takeout and delivery? Sign up for Grubhub for Restaurants today.

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How P.S. Kitchen uses Grubhub to drive 70% of total delivery orders

Nestled right outside Times Square in downtown Manhattan sits a chic restaurant cooking up a menu that’s a little different.

P.S. Kitchen is a New York City restaurant with a sophisticated plant-based menu featuring vegan twists on traditional wraps and burgers. They use fresh ingredients and Beyond Meat to create mouthwatering smokey BBQ burgers, chicken caesar wraps, salads, french fries, and more.

A fresh vegan menu isn’t the only thing that makes P.S. Kitchen unique. The restaurant’s mission is to leverage the power of earth-conscious food and serve the city. They do that by donating 100% of profits to sustainable non-profit work and hiring marginalized workers from the city.

When P.S. Kitchen wanted to bring their vegan dishes and bold mission to new diners, General Manager Jeff LaPadula turned to Grubhub Delivery. Jeff knew that New Yorkers already relied on Grubhub, so he listed P.S. Kitchen on Grubhub Marketplace so that customers could easily place orders. Partnering with Grubhub took the stress off P.S. Kitchen to coordinate and run their own delivery service.

P.S. Kitchen found a partner in Grubhub and new customers with an expanded delivery zone

As a restaurant located right in the heart of Manhattan, delivery is essential to reaching a wide array of hungry customers. Yet, organizing delivery across the city wasn’t something the busy restaurant could invest in while upholding its mission.

That’s why P.S. Kitchen turned to Grubhub Delivery to ease their workload back when they opened their doors in 2017.

Jeff connected with their Grubhub Account Advisor to get personalized support with optimizing their delivery strategy to maximize revenue. “We have been able to expand our Grubhub delivery zone because of our Account Advisor’s help,” Jeff said. “That’s helped us reach more customers while also protecting the quality of our food.”

Image of  P.S. Kitchen staff

“70% of our delivery orders come from Grubhub.”

Jeff LaPadula, General Manager, P.S. Kitchen

Grubhub Delivery has helped P.S. Kitchen share its values and tasty dishes with customers across New York City. In fact, between March 2021 and August 2021, 46% of P.S. Kitchen’s Grubhub orders have come from new customers.

P.S. Kitchen trusts Grubhub’s professional delivery drivers

Jeff relies on Grubhub’s professional delivery driver to safely and quickly get his food to his customers while also protecting the quality of his dishes. 

When a Grubhub order is placed at P.S. Kitchen, Jeff can trust that a driver will arrive on time to pick up the order once it is ready. The order then gets delivered to customers efficiently in insulated bags, ensuring that the diner will be satisfied with their meal.

“When we mark something is ready for delivery, a Grubhub Delivery driver is here within minutes,” Jeff said. “This helps keep our customers happy as well as protects our food quality.”

“Grubhub Delivery is a well-oiled machine. Grubhub’s professional drivers and insulated bags absolutely protect our food quality, even as delivery demand increases.”

Jeff LaPadula, General Manager, P.S. Kitchen

Get started with Grubhub Delivery

Partnering with Grubhub can help your restaurant reach new customers and grow revenue without adding extra work to your already busy schedule. But that’s not all– when you partner with Grubhub, you get access to our fleet of professional delivery drivers, ready to meet your customers’ demand for delivery. 

Ready to grow your delivery business? Get started with Grubhub for Restaurants.

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5 tips for minimizing restaurant employee turnover

According to the National Restaurant Association, 84% of operators reported staffing levels lower than normal. Eating and drinking places remain 1.5 million jobs (or 12%) short of fulfilling staffing needs. Restaurateurs cannot find employees to increase their staffing levels.

In order to attract employees and encourage your staff to stay at your restaurant, it’s important to understand why a labor shortage is sweeping the industry and execute techniques to minimize staff turnover.

Here are 5 tips to help you keep restaurant employee turnover to a minimum: 

1. Look for a good fit

Minimizing employee turnover starts with the hiring process. If you attract employees that are already a good match with your restaurant, you’ll have a head start on keeping them happy and satisfied.

Use your contacts

Ask employees, friends, and others whose opinions you value for staffing recommendations. These trusted “recruits” can bring already-endorsed candidates to the table and widen your talent pool.

Hire trainable personalities

If someone is lacking experience yet has an agreeable personality, don’t automatically discard them. The pandemic has shifted many peoples’ careers, so you could have eager candidates ready to work that don’t have much experience.

Seize the opportunity

When reviewing candidates, try to make room for a highly talented and versatile person — even if there is no position available at that time. Getting a star on your roster is more beneficial to your business than losing that person to your competition.

Establish a wish list

Make sure your managers are on board with the qualities, skills, experiences, and characteristics that are important for each new hire. Also, determine a standard process and list of questions so that all interviews are conducted consistently.

Create an easy application process

 Make sure your application process is user-frinedly and easy to complete. Post about your openings online and put a help wanted sign in your window so that potential employees know you are looking to hire.

2. Be transparent about your COVID-19 policies

QSR recently reported that 28% of restaurant operators think it will be 7-12 months before staffing returns to normal, which means it’s that much more important that restaurant operators  are understanding of their employees’ personal circumstances and are transparent about your COVID-19 policies. 

While it’s impossible to predict how the restaurant industry will be impacted in the upcoming months, it’s important to be transparent with your employees about your restaurant’s operations and relevant COVID policies. 

Some cities require restaurant workers to be vaccinated or wear masks. Clearly communicating workplace requirements with your employees can help them make decisions about their ability to work. Check out our free resource of reopening checklists and procedures here.

3. Learn what makes your employees happy

One of the best ways to keep your staff engaged is to get them involved in certain decisions that impact their jobs. Asking for employee feedback periodically is a win-win for everyone. You can gain insight to help prevent problems and make informed decisions, while your employees feel valued and respected. The end result yields a deeper bond and a sense of loyalty.

Ask for their opinion

Use surveys to ask specifics regarding what they like about their jobs, and what they’d like to change, Keep comments confidential in order to encourage participation and receive honest feedback.

Consider their feedback

Are any suggestions for change valid? Can you make any accommodations without compromising quality and efficiency in your business? Be sure to offer clear explanations on policies for those things you can’t change.


Express your appreciation

Above all, let your employees know you value them, their opinions, their talents, and their contribution to the team.

At Windy City Ribs in Chicago, owner Terri Evans prioritizes letting her staff know they are valued. As Windy City Ribs focuses on returning to full service after the pandemic, Terri is continuing efforts to engage and motivate her staff so that she can fulfill the high rise in demand from customers. Terri offers flexible schedules and pays above minimum wage to attract employees during the labor shortage.

"We are creating an atmosphere that will make our employees say ‘this is a great place to work.’ We want to help them create wealth for their family and generations to come.”
Terri Evans
Windy City Ribs

Learn how Terri and other restaurant operators are overcoming staffing challenges in our latest Restaurant Roundtable. Tune in here.

4. Maintain a supportive work environment

You can’t serve your hungry customers without cooks in the kitchen, servers on the floor, and hosts at the door. Supporting your staff throughout their employment is key in making your restaurant successful.

Accommodate schedules when possible

COVID-19 has changed the circumstances for everyone. Strive to be as flexible and understanding as possible when an employee has something come up unexpectedly. As long as it’s not a habit, try to modify or accommodate their schedule to help them out.

Get creative with training

 Reopening restaurants has led to large waves of new staff who may be unfamiliar with your business and the restaurant industry. Standardizing company training programs can get everyone on the same page. 

Make on-going development a priority by using videos and other training technology, holding weekly training “huddles,” establishing cross-staff mentorship, and incentivizing employee improvements.

Make investments in your staff

Pay is definitely a factor in an employee’s level of satisfaction, and pay should be linked to performance. By “investing” in your valued employees, you are sure to get a return on that investment through their hard work, loyalty, and the value they bring to your restaurant.

5. Offer stability

Financial instability concerns have been heightened due to the pandemic. While the country is in limbo as we navigate how to return to normal, employees are looking for a reliable job where they can earn wages and stick to a schedule. It’s important now more than ever to be upfront about employees’ pay, schedule, and benefits.

Nation’s Restaurant News predicts that operators will be paying workers more and providing more benefits in 2022 in order to recruit and retain workers after the pandemic. It may take raising workers’ wages in order to maintain employment levels. While this could subsequently cause a hike in menu pricing, diners are more understanding about the hits the service industry has faced during the pandemic. 

Revisiting your menu pricing? Check out our blog post to learn more about the most popular menu pricing strategies.  

Always prioritize health and safety

To attract and retain employees during the pandemic, it’s important to prioritize health and safety. While masking, social distancing, and sanitizing can help protect your employees and patrons, the CDC says that restaurants that offer delivery, takeout, and curb-side pickup pose the lowest risk of spreading COVID-19.

Looking for a way to safely reach more customers? When you partner with Grubhub, you can offer contact-free delivery, curbside pickup, and takeout to get your dishes to customers while safeguarding your employees. 

Reach more customers by getting started with Grubhub today.

Ready to tap into Grubhub Delivery? Here are four tips to ensure success

Reaching customers takes more than just opening up your door. That’s why restaurants are partnering with third-party delivery service providers like Grubhub. With Grubhub Delivery, customers can place orders from your restaurant and have it arrive quickly- with just a couple of clicks from the Grubhub app. 

Adding delivery to your restaurant instantly allows you to reach more customers and grow your revenue. In fact, 70% of restaurants, on average, say off-premise orders make up a larger percentage of sales than they did pre-pandemic. 

That’s why it’s more important now than ever to make sure you’re getting the most out of your restaurant delivery partner.

Why are restaurants partnering with third-party delivery services providers?

As the demand for food delivery rises, restaurants are partnering with third-party delivery providers, like Grubhub, to help ease delivery operations and reach new customers. Outsourcing your delivery operations can simplify your workflow, building awareness for your restaurant while boosting your revenue. 

Signing your restaurant up for a food delivery app can also give you instant access to customer data so you can track your restaurant’s performance. Learn more about why restaurants are partnering with third-party delivery providers here.

4 tips to optimize your third-party delivery strategy

Signing up for Grubhub Delivery is the first step in building your delivery customer base. But to continue to grow your business and smooth your operations you’re going to need to develop a successful delivery strategy that fits your business’ needs.  Here are four tips to help you get started: 

1. Set the right delivery boundaries

When you set your delivery boundaries be sure to keep food quality top of mind. Keep in mind the following factors that can impact your delivery time:

  • Your location
  • The population density in your area
  • Traffic

When you partner with Grubhub, our algorithm will create multiple delivery boundaries that are calculated based on drive time in your specific market, ensuring your customers receive their meal on time while also protecting the quality of your food.

2. Tailor your Grubhub delivery menu for success

Some food items on your menu are ideal for sit-down customers but won’t make it to the customer’s doorstep in the same delicious condition. Consider creating a menu for takeout and delivery customers that is optimized to withstand the journey to diners’ homes. Swap out items that may melt or fall apart during travel for dishes that are easy to pack. You can even amend less durable ingredients in your popular dishes to create a just as tasty delivery version.

Looking for more tips on how to craft a menu build for delivery? Check out this delivery menu article.

3. Use the right delivery packaging

After you craft the perfect delivery menu, you want to be sure that your dishes can maintain their quality as they reach your diners. While third-party delivery services like Grubhub are committed to protecting your food quality, how the food is packaged plays a critical role in the success of your delivery program. That’s where finding the right food packaging comes in.

There are many materials for food packaging, and different types of dishes travel best in different containers. Plastic and cardboard are go-to’s for larger, warm dishes, while aluminum foil is great for burgers and sandwiches. Customers also value sustainability, so it’s important to evaluate how environmentally friendly your packaging is.

4. Keep your restaurant operations efficient with Grubhub Delivery

A huge benefit of partnering with a third-party delivery service like Grubhub is the operational organization built into the service to tighten up the order processing time. Partnering with Grubhub can cut down your delivery order processing time by more than half. Not only does this increase order accuracy, but it also ensures food gets to your hungry customers much faster.

Additionally, when you use Grubhub for delivery you don’t need to worry about managing and employing your own delivery drivers– making your life, and your restaurant operations, much easier. 

How much does Grubhub Delivery cost?

Grubhub charges a 10% fee for delivery services. With this fee, you not only get the power of our delivery fleet but also:

Professional on-demand delivery drivers

Our drivers are recruited and hired based on their experience and undergo an extensive background check to ensure our delivery service protects the integrity of your menu and brand. We assign each delivery to the most suitable driver based on location and traffic patterns.

Real-time order tracking

Our technology ensures delivery orders are handled quickly and efficiently. When you sign up for delivery we’ll provide you with the technology and support to manage the flow of delivery orders from your tablet, phone, or computer. Additionally, you can monitor orders with real-time GPS tracking.

Reduce your administrative work

Managing drivers, scheduling, payroll, and insurance is a lot of work. When you partner with Grubhub Delivery you can let our systems take the lead on those administrative burdens.

How to get started with Grubhub Delivery

When you sign up for Grubhub you will have the option to select from the following delivery services: 

Grubhub Delivery

With Grubhub Delivery you will get access to our fleet of Grubhub Drivers who will pick up and deliver your orders directly to your customers’ doors in insulated delivery bags. Best part? We take care of coordinating, compensating, and managing the drivers. 

Self Delivery

With self-delivery, you use your own drivers to deliver orders placed on the Grubhub app to your customers. You have control over your delivery boundaries and fees. 

In addition to these order fulfillment options, every restaurant that signs up with Grubhub will automatically have the ability to accept pickup orders from Grubhub customers. 

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

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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

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.


  • 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!

8 key elements your restaurant website needs

Restaurant dining is not what it used to be. Nowadays, customers are flocking online to discover restaurants and order food. In fact, 90% of customers research a restaurant online before visiting- that is more than any other business type.  

So what does that mean for your restaurant? Your restaurant deserves an online presence as mouth-watering as your cuisine- and that starts with your restaurant website.   

How to create a successful restaurant website:

To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of the nine most essential elements to include in your restaurant website. 

1. Establish your online personality

Your website and online ordering listings are often the first things customers see when searching for restaurants online. It is also your first chance to make a memorable first impression, and there’s no better way to do that than with a site that highlights your restaurant’s unique personality.

Your website should serve as an extension of your brand identity, so you want to make sure it reflects who you are through the colors, tone, and images you use. 

Consistent branding across your brick-and-mortar location and your website are also crucial in establishing a memorable personality. A site that successfully captures what’s special and unique about your in-person dining experience is what will create a distinctive online presence and attract visitors to your restaurant. 

2. Share your restaurant’s contact information

Typically when a potential diner searches your restaurant, they are looking for basic information about your location, hours, and contact number. Including this information prominently on your site will help customers quickly find what they are looking for.

You should make sure your website effectively communicates the following information: 

  • Your hours
  • Your location  
  • Your phone number 

3. Offer online ordering directly from your restaurant website

Accessibility is a huge pillar in establishing a strong online presence, and offering online ordering directly from your website will make it easy for customers to take action. In addition, integrating online ordering directly into your site will help ensure that you won’t lose any customers through a difficult takeout and delivery sales system.

Unsure how to create a seamless online ordering system? Look no further than Grubhub Direct. 

With Grubhub Direct, you can create your own restaurant website with a built-in online ordering platform so your customers can place orders right from your website. 

If you already have a website, you can add a Grubhub Direct ordering page to your existing site. If you do not have a website, you can easily use Grubhub Direct as your restaurant website! 

4. Share your restaurant’s story

You’ve put a lot of care and hard work into establishing your restaurant. Don’t be afraid to share your story with your customers in an “about us” or “our story” section of your website. Your restaurant’s history is what makes you unique, and telling that story allows customers to connect to your restaurant on a deeper level. In this section, you should:  

  • Go back to your roots and explain your origin story. Tell your customers why you are passionate about what you do and what motivated you to create your delicious food. 
  • State your mission and values so your customers know what you believe in and understand how your restaurant positively impacts your community. 
  • Showcase your people so that your customers get to know the friendly faces behind their favorite dishes. 
  • Highlight positive press and reviews from customers, news outlets, and local sources to underscore your restaurant’s reputation. 

5. Promote your social media profiles

Your website is just one piece in your restaurant’s online presence. 

Social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have become staples in establishing a restaurant’s brand. Linking to active social media accounts on your site can allow you to connect to customers so they can follow you at every turn. 

In addition, customers are more likely to visit or order from your restaurant if they see your tasty creations in their feed.

6. Offer reservations

Including active links to your phone number or reservation will allow customers to seamlessly switch from learning about your restaurant to booking a table. Integrate a third-party reservation service like OpenTable into your site so that customers can quickly review times and make a reservation.

7. Showcase your menu

Your restaurant’s dishes are your most major asset, so you must feature your menu directly on your website. Customers often search a restaurant to browse the menu, so you want to make sure you include easy to read, accurate and up-to-date information about your food.  

Including brief descriptions of your menu items also helps search engines find your restaurant when people look up a specific type of food. Adding markers for alternate dishes (gluten-free, vegan, kosher, etc.) can help inform customers about your accommodations while also making your site more relevant to specific kinds of searches.  

Your menu shouldn’t stop at just tasty descriptions. A picture is worth a thousand words, and when it’s a photo of your delicious dishes, it could be what entices a customer to place an order. 

High-quality, professionally shot photos are an essential part of a strong online menu. Studies show that restaurants that switched from text-based online menus to photos saw the number of website visitors who turned into customers increase by 25%. Adding photos to your menu can be what motivates a customer to place an order.  

If you need assistance taking mouthwatering photos, you can request a free professional photo shoot for your Grubhub Marketplace menu when you sign up for Grubhub for Restaurants.

8. Make sure your restaurant website is mobile-friendly

Chances are, your customers are looking at your website on their phones, so you want to make sure your website is accessible on mobile devices. 

Avoid mobile-unfriendly content like PDF menus that are difficult to download and read on the phone, and make sure your web pages are compatible with a smaller screen. Developing an easy-to-use site will ensure that your customers can not only find you online but also navigate your site pages to find the information they need.

Find out your restaurant website’s smartphone compatible with Google’s free mobile-friendly test. 

9. Leverage local SEO tactics to reach new customers

Have you ever wondered why a certain restaurant pops up first when you search for “pizza near me” or “best lunch options” online? The order that websites rank during a Google search is due to search engine optimization (SEO) practices during site creation. Local SEO implementation is what could make your website reach customers over your competitors.

Local SEO is the process of improving search engine visibility for local businesses. By following local SEO best practices, businesses can improve “organic” traffic from nearby customers—that is, customers in your local area who happen to be searching for restaurants.

Search engines prioritize local results—for good reason. Most Google searches include the terms “near me,” closest,” and “nearby.”


Start taking commission-free online orders on your own restaurant website

No matter how you present your restaurant’s personality online, creating a strong website can drive up revenue while capturing customers. For many modern diners, the very first impression of your restaurant happens online. Developing a solid website will allow customers to stumble upon your restaurant when searching for local dining options.

Online ordering integration within your restaurant’s website is also essential for capturing hungry customers looking to order takeout and delivery from your restaurant. That’s where Grubhub can help. 

When you join Grubhub, you get access to our latest product, Grubhub Direct. With Grubhub Direct, you can quickly build your own branded online ordering website– but that’s not all. With Grubhub Direct, you get access to your customer data so that you can build stronger relationships with your customers.

Are you interested in learning more about building your restaurant’s online brand while also increasing your sales? Download our latest guide, Build Your Brand and Boost Your Business with Online Ordering.  


How to overcome the 4 biggest challenges all restaurant owners face

Over the last 18 months or so, restaurant owners have gotten a crash course in how to run a business during a pandemic. As we emerge from the shadow of COVID-19, owners and management teams are facing four key challenges:

  • Finding and retaining quality staff
  • Mitigating rising food costs
  • Controlling growing operational costs
  • Reaching new customers

Here are some actionable solutions to help you overcome these obstacles and thrive.

Challenge #1: Finding and retaining quality staff

As restaurants re-open and expand operations post-COVID, the need for quality employees is rising. But restaurant owners who used to field dozens of applications for an open position are now struggling to find anyone to fill available jobs.

Diners are able to enjoy their local restaurants in person thanks to the availability of vaccines and relaxed mandates, but these widespread reopenings may be exactly why there’s an issue finding solid candidates.

It’s a simple case of supply and demand. Thousands of restaurants are finally opening for weekend service or adding lunches and brunches, and applicants have the opportunity to be picky.

Solution: Build a culture around your restaurant that makes potential employees want to work for you​

To attract and keep quality employees, you need to offer a culture that’s more attractive than your competitors. Staff turnover is common in the hospitality industry, but it’s also costly. Now more than ever it’s important to get good applicants through the door and keep them there.

  • Use your contacts to find potential employees that come with an endorsement you can trust. Using connections can turn your friends into “recruiters,” attracting candidates that are more inclined to stay for the long term. 
  • Hire personalities, then train them. A candidate who is eager to learn and takes direction well can be far more successful than an experienced server with an attitude.
  • Find room for qualified applicants even if you don’t have an opening for their preferred position. Avoid letting versatile talent walk away.

Once you have a team you love, it’s important to keep them happy. This can be as simple as asking them for their opinion and taking action based on that feedback. 

Your employees want to know that their opinions and their happiness matter. Offering employee perks like benefits, family meals, prime schedules based on seniority and other bonuses could make a prospect choose you instead of a competitor.

Challenge #2: Tackling rising food costs

The pandemic did a number on the supply chain. 

In 2020, shuttered restaurants and grocery stores along with issues with transport forced farmers to dump fresh milk and plow through their vegetable fields. Farmers are now scrambling to play catchup. That and other factors have led to a 5% jump in food cost year over year, and numbers are still rising.

That means everything from eggs to flour is coming into restaurants at a higher cost, and restaurants must find a way to cope.

Solution: Control food costs and optimize your menu pricing

Start by learning how to control food expenses. Talk to your current vendors and see if they can help you with pricing. You may discover that there are untapped deals waiting if you simply switch up the type of tomatoes you’re buying or if you buy them in a different quantity. 

Other methods of cost control include:

  • Buying whole vegetables and primal cuts of meat to tackle pricey prep in-house
  • Banding together with other local restaurants to create a group purchasing organization to increase buying power while decreasing costs
  • Retraining staff on prep protocols to help reduce waste
  • Repurposing meat and vegetable trimmings for things like stock, sauces, sides or soups  instead of tossing them out
  • Coaching FOH on reducing POS errors and monitoring for theft
  • Creating seasonal dishes that use more cost-effective ingredients

Next, master your menu pricing. Calculate your food cost percentages, then review the menu to see which prices need adjusting. It may be time to shrink your menu, ditching low-selling/low-profit items and leaving only popular items and those with a higher profit margin.

Consider how your target demographic has changed, too. If you’re doing more takeout and delivery, you might want to temporarily discontinue items that don’t travel well or aren’t frequently ordered. 

Challenge #3: Controlling growing operational costs

In addition to the rising cost of food, staffing and general operational costs have surged. The struggle to find staff has put a strain on restaurants’ budgets as they pay current employees overtime to cover extra shifts. With some areas still experiencing restrictions and many Americans are still hesitant about the return to in-person dining, there is only so much owners can do to generate revenue using their existing operational infrastructure.

Solution: Maximize your restaurant’s revenue potential with a virtual restaurant

Virtual restaurants are delivery-only operations that offer restaurateurs a way to tap into soaring delivery demand without taking on an entirely new business. Virtual restaurants allow restauranteurs to cross-utilize ingredients from their existing menu and leverage their existing staff to execute additional delivery orders. 

Interested in getting started? Look to Billy Brick’s Wood Fired Pizza owner Ric Gruber for inspiration. Gruber launched several unique virtual restaurant concepts based on which cuisines were trending on Grubhub to target new customers. 

While Gruber’s initial concept was pizza-focused, his virtual restaurants offered everything from specialty salads to pasta dishes. “With revenue loss during the pandemic, my virtual restaurants have helped me fill in those gaps with an additional couple thousand dollars per concept every week,” Gruber said.

Challenge #4: Reaching new customers

If you cook a killer carbonara and no one knows about it, all you have is a bowl of quickly cooling pasta and rapidly increasing debt. To thrive, restaurants have to catch the attention of local diners. Gone are the days when foot traffic alone was enough to build a loyal clientele. Now, diners head to digital channels to hit up restaurants and research new eateries. 

Here is why going digital matters:

Solution: Build a 360-degree marketing strategy for your restaurant

Every restaurant needs a solid marketing strategy. This formal blueprint serves as a road map for all of your marketing, promotions, outreach and more. Your strategy can be broad (“attract more diners”) or specific (“fill all the seats for our upcoming wine dinner”). The basic plan will look very similar, but how you flesh out each step depends on your objective.

You can also grow your online presence through social media marketing. Start by choosing the right social media platforms for your demographic and intent. Then use tactics like social media contests and user-generated content to gain traction to get potential guests excited about your restaurant. Make sure every profile includes a link to your online ordering.

A strong online presence also includes an updated, optimized restaurant website. When 90% of diners are researching local restaurants, they should find your site where they can read about your chef, check out your menu and even place an order for pickup or delivery. You can offer your own branded online ordering experience with Grubhub Direct.

Overcome the biggest challenges of being a restaurant owner in a post-pandemic world with Grubhub by your side.

Running a restaurant in a post-COVID world is not without its challenges. But by using existing tools and partnering with Grubhub, you can optimize your operations and prepare for success without stressing your bottom line. 

Whether you’re interested in commission-free online ordering solutions or want to capture new customers using our proven solutions and technology, we’re ready to put your restaurant first. 

Get started with Grubhub today.