Are you a restaurant owner who wants to bring your business to new heights?

One way to achieve great results, increase awareness of your restaurant, and make your business more competitive is through restaurant app development.

According to research by the National Restaurant Association, 83% of adults search for local restaurants with the help of their smartphone. 75% use mobile devices to look up menus before making a decision. More than half of all orders for takeout delivery come from restaurants’ official websites.

Due to the popularity of mobile devices in searching for eating places, restaurant mobile app development is a hot topic today.

This article covers the following aspects:

  • main reasons to consider restaurant app development
  • list of restaurant apps divided by categories
  • the detailed process of restaurant mobile app development
  • features that will make users fall in love with your restaurant app
  • budget and timeline necessary to create a restaurant app

Let’s discover how to create a restaurant app that will benefit your business.

5 Key Reasons Why You Need to Create a Restaurant App

Restaurant app development is an area that has been flourishing for many years, and there is undeniable evidence that it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

So, why do people use restaurant apps? According to a Statista survey in 2013, the top reasons to use a restaurant app were to view menus and prices, check out hours of operation, and search for nearby restaurants.

Since this survey was conducted, the market has grown and changed significantly. New opportunities have become available for restaurant app development.

The main goal of restaurant mobile app development has also changed. If we look at more recent studies and statistics, we can see these changes in focus from using apps to view information, to utilizing them for active communication with restaurants themselves.

Take a look at the provided graph to get a better idea of what your target users might be looking for in a restaurant mobile app.

Top Reasons to Use Restaurant Apps
Top Reasons to Use Restaurant Apps

According to restaurant app statistics, there are two main spheres of use. Almost 30% of customers use them to order food online, and 23.8% turn to these apps to make a reservation with their favorite restaurants. These aspects should be considered if you decide that you want to create a restaurant app that will be in high demand among users and help improve the customer experience.

Do you want to create an app for restaurants?

Save your time and get in touch with our team. We can consult you in terms of the app development process as well as calculate the cost and timeline to bring your project to life.

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The reasons for restaurant app development can be different for each business. Highlighted below are the main advancements a business can get.

1. Customer loyalty

Restaurant Apps that Increased Sales due to Loyalty Programs
Restaurant Apps that Increased Sales due to Loyalty Programs

When businesses create a restaurant app, they want to build better, more advanced customer experience.

Apps for restaurants can provide a variety of options that give customers quick access to menus, allows them to find information on working hours, delivery options, and so on.

2. Payment options

Restaurant Apps and their Number of Mobile Payments
Restaurant Apps and their Number of Mobile Payments

Non-cash transactions are growing in popularity. More and more people use this method to pay for taxi services, groceries, and even restaurant meals.

It is predicted that by 2020 mobile payment volume will surpass $503 billion. It makes a lot of sense to create a restaurant app with an option that will help you increase ROI.

3. Location-based marketing

Restaurant Apps and their Increase in Company Value
Restaurant Apps and their Increase in Company Value

Restaurant app development can help take marketing efforts to the next level. While these applications provide useful information regarding the restaurant location and menu, you can also use them to advertise.

If you decide to create a new dish, you can take appealing photos of it and show them throughout your app as ad banners, making it a magnet for users’ attention. It is also possible to showcase ads based on users’ locations.

4. Ordering and delivery

Restaurant Apps and their Ordering via Food Mobile Apps
Restaurant Apps and their Ordering via Food Mobile Apps

As modern applications for restaurants are mostly used to order food, a business stands to benefit greatly. By adding features for take-out and delivery, you can increase the number of orders and your sales.

At the end of the day, restaurant mobile app development is lucrative for your business growth.

5. Entertainment

Restaurant Apps that Engage with Customers
Restaurant Apps that Engage with Customers

If you decide to create a restaurant app, it might be a good idea to make it fun to use. The toughest challenge facing any business is customer retention.

By creating individual offerings and loyalty programs, it is possible to increase the size of the customer audience that will return to your restaurant again and again.

All in all, restaurant app development is worth the investment. The benefits of creating a mobile app for restaurant ordering are numerous and far too attractive not to consider them when contemplating the idea of app creation.

Restaurant App Development: Categories & Top Examples

Even though the process of restaurant mobile app development can be approached in different ways, the market has a few distinctive categories that prevail among applications for this industry.

We can suggest that the options below are types of mobile restaurants apps that are a safe bet, as they are all popular in the industry today.

Best Restaurant Apps by Category
Best Restaurant Apps by Category

There are five main types of applications with examples of the top restaurant apps within each category, namely:

1. Restaurant-locator app

These apps help to easily navigate an area and find all the available dining locations nearby.

How do you make an app like Zomato? If you are asking yourself the same question, you need to remember that the main goal of restaurant app development of this variety is to provide users with detailed directions that will help them find your dining establishment and track ordered meals. Combined with geofencing, this solution becomes a powerful instrument both in retaining customers and gaining new ones. The best way to create an app like Zomato is to resort to custom app development.

2. Table-reservation app

The days of making phone calls are long gone. Today, customers expect businesses to provide different methods of communication. This is why it is important to create a restaurant app that allows users to reserve tables online. An example of an application like this is OpenTable, which brings the best features to the table.

3. On-table ordering and payment app

You probably know of a restaurant or two that provides the ability to create orders with smartphones. By digitizing the menu and allowing customers to place orders via mobile devices after they scan a QR code, you automate the processes and automatically cut costs on waitstaff. You should consider making the decision to create a restaurant app of this type because of the decrease in flaws in the ordering process. FlipDish is an example of how to develop a restaurant order app like this.

4. Online ordering and delivery app

With the chaos of modern life, takeout and online ordering are increasing in popularity. This is why it is a perfectly rational decision to create a restaurant app that falls in this popular subcategory. The Domino’s Pizza app is living proof that restaurant ordering apps are very popular, as more and more people want to have their favorite dishes delivered to their doorstep.

5. Loyalty program app

Customer retention is essential for any business that wants to thrive, especially in the highly competitive restaurant industry. Before deciding between two dining establishments, users usually choose the one with the most attractive deals and discounts. If you create a restaurant app that offers exclusive deals for loyal customers, it could cause your sales to skyrocket and result in better customer retention. The famous Starbucks application is leading the game among solutions such as this.

When you decide to create a restaurant app, first carefully review competitive and similar services to make the right choice, then decide which application functionality will be the most beneficial for your business.

Making an app is one step. But, do you want to know how to make it successful?

Check out the article listing 10 key steps for how to make your app successful, which provides in-depth insights into each step to ensure that users will fall in love with your app at first sight.

Step-by-Step Process to Create a Restaurant App

Restaurant mobile app development is a complex process that is not limited solely to coding. The process is comprised of different stages that should be followed before you get your hands on a ready-to-use restaurant ordering app.

Below, you can check out how to create a restaurant app by following a 9-step process, namely:

1. Conduct market research

Market research should be your first step in the restaurant app development process. It is important to understand the target audience of your future application, what problems your potential customers currently encounter, and how you can create a restaurant app that will address all of these struggles.

2. Set your strategy and business goals

You should fully understand the benefits that you expect to get from restaurant mobile app development. It is critical to remember that not all app ideas can turn into applications that bring in money. Think about the main KPIs, set business goals, and search for the best ways to receive the necessary results.

3. Find a software development company

Finding a reliable and experienced mobile development vendor is one of the toughest tasks that you will face. This is why you need to approach this aspect with consideration and choose a company that has experience working with industry-related projects and has already created a restaurant app.

Are you looking for an app developer, but are unsure how to make the right choice?

Check out the article How to Hire an App Developer for Your Project and learn about the main mistakes you should avoid during the search.

4. Figure out exact restaurant app functionality

At this stage, you need to think carefully about how you want to create a restaurant app and which features it should include. With the help of a professional software development agency, you need to make a product backlog and list all the features that will be implemented during the restaurant app development process.

5. Design a professional restaurant app and website

The main task of a good restaurant app is to solve particular problems, while restaurant order apps should offer a seamless user experience and uncluttered design.

Design is part of the foundation for successful restaurant mobile app development. The main steps in app design can include:

  • Research - necessary to create top-notch and outstanding products with the help of market and competitor analysis, studying the latest trends, and learning the best practices
  • User experience design - involves the creation of sketches and UX wireframes making up a system skeleton with user-friendly navigation and the intuitive layout of elements
  • Visual design - design of the mood board and UI mockups to apply an appealing color scheme to the app
  • Branding - includes logo development
  • Illustrations & Animations - add a unique touch and feel when you create a restaurant app

6. Test, deploy, and launch the application

These steps should be a part of the development process when you create a restaurant app. By the time you are ready to launch an application, all the features should be fully implemented so that the app will work without a hitch.

7. Roll out marketing campaigns

Whether you are developing a mobile app for restaurant ordering or the one to order food from home, it is a good idea to start a marketing campaign that will help you tell the world about your product.

8. Collect and analyze feedback on your restaurant app

How do you create a restaurant app that users will love? By collecting feedback on your products, you will be able to find out which features are useful and which ones your application lacks. The process should be continuous, and it is better to pay close attention to feedback after the release of any new functionality.

9. Ongoing application support and enhancement

The development of a restaurant app is an ongoing process that does not stop with the launch of an application. Based on collected reviews, you might need to improve some features, remove some of the existing ones, or add new functionality. Continuous support should also ensure that your application is optimized for the latest versions of operating systems and shows the highest performance.

If you decide to create a restaurant app, think about the web version of your application and a website that will represent your brand online as a supplement to the mobile app. Here is a list of 12-steps toward creating a restaurant website, namely:

  1. Selecting a capable restaurant website development vendor
  2. Business analysis and product backlog development (listing all website functionality)
  3. Planning the website infrastructure
  4. Creating content for a restaurant website
  5. UX/UI design creation for the website
  6. Finding appropriate web hosting
  7. Purchasing a necessary domain name
  8. Applying SSL certificate for website security
  9. Website coding phase (front-end and back-end)
  10. Quality assurance and testing the website
  11. Website setup and launch
  12. Ongoing website maintenance and support

How much does developing a restaurant website cost?

Check out the article How Much Does it Cost to Build a Website and learn what influences the final price and hidden factors that may increase the development budget considerably.

It is obvious that to create a restaurant app that has a chance to earn a place in the sun, a restaurant owner should pursue a multiple-step process. The above sequence of steps guarantees that you will not skip any of the important procedures that will impact the prospects of success for your solution.

Engaging Functionality for Restaurant App Development

Based on the type of application you decide to go for during restaurant mobile app development, the set of features you will need to implement may vary significantly. The below functionality will help you create a restaurant app with a basic functionality or more advanced features to stand out among competing solutions.

MLSDev Concept: App for a Restaurant
MLSDev Concept: App for a Restaurant

Core Features for Restaurant Mobile App Development

We have gathered the basic features that build the basis of any application for a restaurant. Let’s dive in and learn what they are how they can be implemented. If you decide to create a restaurant app, consider adding some of the following functionality.

  • Menu screens

This feature is especially important for any online food order app. This solution should showcase what dishes look like, provide the list of ingredients, and list customization options if they are available.

When you create a restaurant menu app, consider designing and developing an attractive and interactive menu. This integral part of the UI should include good images and an order button that will allow food to be ordered directly from the menu.

  • Online ordering and pre-ordering

People are often short on time, which is why they often turn to food restaurant apps to order or pre-order dishes. The latter feature has been successfully implemented by the Starbucks application. Customers who make pre-orders online do not have to wait in lines to place and then receive the order. This is why this particular feature is a must-have these days.

  • Table reservations

If you are thinking about creating a restaurant app, keep this option in mind. These days, visitors prefer to make reservations online without making phone calls or doing so in person.

  • Online payments

This feature works best with the function of pre-ordering. By adding it to your application, you reduce the time customers need to spend in your restaurant or café. They order a dish online, pay for it through the app, and come in to take the order or have it delivered to their doorstep.

  • Food delivery

If your dining establishment provides the option of meal delivery, include it on the list of features during restaurant mobile app development.

  • Locating restaurants nearby

This feature is useful for a restaurant that has multiple locations. If you want to create a restaurant app of the best quality, consider adding this. With the help of geolocation, you can guide visitors to the closest location or invite them to visit your place if they are nearby.

  • Loyalty programs

The most loyal customers deserve the highest appreciation. The best way to make them feel special is to treat them with coupons, bonuses, and special deals. As smartphones are always with them, they can use the bonuses every time they are at your establishment.

Just remember that the rules of obtaining bonuses should be devised before you create a restaurant app, as they should be included in the logic of the future solution.

  • Social media interaction

Social media is an integral part of our lives. This is why it should be a must-have in an application for a restaurant. Create a restaurant app that integrates with social media, as it is one of the ways to allow fast registration within an app. Allow customers to share photos of dishes on social media and leave their reviews so you can use the power of social media marketing and word-of-mouth in your favor.

  • Push notifications

These notifications can be used for different purposes. You can send push messages to notify customers about upcoming events, special offers, discounts, etc. These will remind them about your dining establishment and motivate them to come back to it more frequently.

Now you know what it takes to create a restaurant app with core functionality, and it is time to move to more fun stuff.

Advanced Functionality to Create a Restaurant App

What if you wanted to create a restaurant app that would be different? Listed below the most interesting and novel features that will do the trick in the development of a custom restaurant app.

  • Chatbots

What about having someone to answer your customers’ questions through the app? No need to hire a dedicated professional, as we have chatbots for that.

Even though it is a relatively new technology in the restaurant industry, artificial intelligence has enabled the solutions to learn how to answer different questions. They add a layer of personalization and, while still new to the industry, can help you stand out.

  • Location-based services

Local restaurant apps can benefit from the addition of geofencing and iBeacons. These two technologies are great for enhanced marketing activities and better targeting.

By implementing geofencing, you can create a restaurant app and enable it to send a push notification when a user passes by. iBeacons can guide passers-by right to your restaurant. The main result of their use is the increase in the number of customers and, potentially, higher revenue.

  • Taxi ordering

When creating a solution that will have a chance to be different and very useful, include a taxi ordering option during restaurant app development. This is a feature that is nice to have and that will help your customers get home safely and at an affordable cost.

An example of an app that utilizes this benefit is Zomato, which has partnered with Uber and integrated Uber API within the app, allowing customers to call a taxi right from Zomato’s official website.

  • Gamification

This state-of-the-art-technology is just finding its way into most applications, and restaurant apps are no different. You can create tasks, set up a competition for users, and offer prizes for winners. For example, you can offer free delivery after ten successful orders, or an extra meal after five visits to your restaurants. It is scientifically proven that competition often drives people to strive for a better result.

Budget Necessary to Create a Restaurant App & Website

The question of how much it costs to develop a restaurant app is complex. In general, the budget necessary to create a restaurant app can start at $50,000 and go beyond $240,000.

The app cost depends on many factors, like the development vendor you hire, features you want to include, the number of operating platforms (web, iOS, Android, etc.), level of customization the solution will have, and so on.

Below is a table that illustrates the rough costs to create a restaurant app with core components on one platform and the price to develop a project with more complex functionality.

Basic App (simplest features, 1 platform) Medium App (customized design, additional features, 1-2 platforms) Large App (complex design, unique features, development and support, 2 platforms)
UX/UI Design $5,000+ $10,000+ $21,000+
Custom App Development $30,000+ $60,000+ $150,000+
Quality Assurance $5,000+ $10,000+ $25,000+
Project Management $7,000+ $15,000+ $32,000+
Business Analysis $2,500+ $5,000+ $12,000+
Total cost ~$50,000-$80,000 ~$100,000+ $240,000+
Timeline ~3-5 months ~6-9 months 9+ months (ongoing)

Interested in knowing how to calculate the exact app development cost?

Read the following guide App Development Cost: Understand Your Budget to Build Powerful Apps to get information about all the services that constitute the cost formation of app creation.

In order to create a restaurant app, you will need to allocate a budget that will cover the services involved in application development. Our company divides the development process into the Discovery and Development stages, which include the following steps:

Discovery stage:

  • Business analysis
  • UX/UI design
  • Software architecture planning
  • Project management
  • Team review

Development stage:

  • Early planning (1-2 week period, 1st development sprint)
  • Development
  • Quality assurance and testing
  • Project management
  • Team review

Take a look at the scheme representing the process that influences restaurant mobile app development cost and its precise calculation.

Custom Software Development Process to Create a Restaurant App
Custom Software Development Process to Create a Restaurant App

As well, how much can a restaurant website cost? Depending on the complexity of the website you need, the budget to build a website for a restaurant ranges from ~$18,000 to $249,000+. Below is a table with more detailed overview of the cost and timeline to create a restaurant website.

Small website Basic website Mid-sized website Complex website
Total cost ~$18,000-$25,000 ~$50,000+ $100,000+ $240,000+
Timeline ~2-3 months ~3-5 months ~6-9 months ~9+ months

Recommendation: Note that you have a few options for restaurant app development where you can use a restaurant app builder or find a programmer doing freelance to create a restaurant app. These are not the best choices due to limited functionality and the time-consuming specifics of working with a remote developer.

Cooperation with a dedicated software development firm – an optimal option, as only by working with experienced developers can you feel secure about the quality of your application and the overall success of the project.

Just remember that the money you invest in app development is justified by the quality of work you will get.

Are you considering outsourcing mobile app development, but still not sure about it?

Check out the article Outsourcing Software Development: Reasons it Works, Models, & Top Locations where we have highlighted how a company can benefit from IT outsourcing.

Our Expertise In Restaurant Mobile App Development

MLSDev team has vast experience in custom mobile app development that helps us in our work while making projects that meet all the requirements. We have developed the following solutions that best show our expertise:

GoPuff – a delivery application that started as a mobile food delivery app and quickly grew into a solution where users can order a bunch of different things.

Online Food Ordering and Delivery App: GoPuff
Online Food Ordering and Delivery App: GoPuff

TableFever – native solution that you can use to search for available restaurants nearby and book a table.

Restaurant Table-Reservation App: TableFever
Restaurant Table-Reservation App: TableFever

Looking for developers to create a restaurant app?

Drop us a line for a consultation and a free quotation for your project. We would be glad to apply our experience in restaurant mobile app development for the successful implementation of your project.

Let’s talk

Frequently Asked Questions:

🤔 Why should I create an app for my restaurant?
Research by the National Restaurant Association states that 83% of adults search for local restaurants with the help of their smartphone. 75% use mobile devices to look up menus before making a decision. These statistics support the idea of making your own app for a restaurant to benefit from.
🚀 What are the core & advanced features of any successful restaurant app?
If you decide to create a restaurant app, consider adding functionality like user-friendly menu screens, online ordering and pre-ordering features, table reservation, online payment, food delivery, possibility to locate restaurants nearby as well as loyalty programs and interaction with social media. To advance the restaurant app even more, you can add chatbot function as innovative customer support, taxi ordering, and gamification elements.
⏳ How much time does it take to create a restaurant app?
The app development timeline depends on factors like the software vendor you hire, features you want to include, the number of operating platforms (web, iOS, Android, etc.), level of customization, etc. In general, it takes around 3-6 months to develop the first app version. The timeline to build a fully-fledged system is around 8-10 months or more.
⏳ How much time does it take to develop a restaurant website?
Similar to the app development, the timeline to build a restaurant website depends on its complexity and customization. If you want to create a small and simple website, the process takes around 2-3 months. In case of more advanced restaurant website functionality, the timeline starts from 3+ months, and the complex website requires 9+ months to build.