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Takeout & Delivery

The Takeout and Delivery App Takeover

by Tiffany Regaudie

You might think a take out app isn’t worth the operational hassle or extra pressure on the kitchen – but consider this common situation:

It’s Friday night and it’s raining hard. Your restaurant has a patio, but it’s clearly not going to bring in the usual weekend numbers. A couple has braved the weather and they’re having drinks at the bar. Some of your regulars are sitting around, but it looks like the kitchen might not be as busy as you’d anticipated.

If only there was a way to get your food to people who wanted it!

Wait, it’s 2019 – and where there’s demand, there’s an app! Food take out and delivery apps are popping up all over major urban centres and are a far cry from the ways of ordering-in a decade ago. 

The Evolution of Take Out and Delivery

Pre-iPhone, the solution to hunger at home was to call the closest place that offered delivery and wait for the on-staff driver to get through his route to the destination. If the customer lived outside the delivery radius, or the neighborhood didn’t have any places that offered delivery – too bad. Restaurants had to set up their own delivery system, meaning the options were limited and the onus was on the customer to initiate the transaction.

The new breed of food delivery apps present endless options to customers with a couple of swipes and the tap of a button. Everything from gourmet food, healthy fare, and trendy snacks to classic burgers and international cuisines are literally at the tip of a finger. Whatever the craving, there’s an app that gives customers access to it.

So what are these take out delivery apps and how are they making the most of modern mobility? Let’s explore.

Take Out Apps

Toronto’s Ritual take out app is now also present in Chicago, New York, L.A., and Boston, due to their overwhelming popularity amongst busy urbanites. The user searches a list of possible restaurants within walking distance and chooses a menu item. Using geo-location and estimated travel time, the customer is prompted when it’s time to leave, so they’ll arrive right when their order is up.

Since the payment is handled through the app, the customer can walk up to the counter, grab their order, and leave. The restaurant doesn’t have to worry about long lines or disappointed customers but can amp up the pace and deal with demand.

Delivery Apps

From Foodora’s bike couriers to UberEATS delivery drivers and DoorDash’s anything goes (car, motorcycles, scooters, bikes, even walking is accepted), a system of independent contractors criss-cross cities to pick up orders from hundreds of restaurants and deliver to eager eaters every day. Delivery apps make it easy for restaurants to become partners and they are very easy to use – so they’ve quickly become the norm.

Best Food Delivery Apps and Take Out Services

Door Dash

Services: Delivery

Where: Available in major U.S. cities, Toronto, and Vancouver, Canada. DoorDash is used by 54,000 restaurants.

Differentiator: DoorDash operates in suburbs, not just city centers as is common with other delivery apps.

GrubHub/Seamless/Eat24 (Yelp)

Services: Pick-up and delivery

Where: Available across major U.S. cities and London, UK, GrubHub is used by 55,000 restaurants. Seamless is available in some large U.S. cities, with a major presence in New York.

Differentiator: Seamless typically caters to a more professional audience, while Grubhub is for the “every person”, including students. Seamless was bought by GrubHub in 2013 and Yelp’s Eat24 was purchased by GrubHub in August 2017. With Eat24, restaurants tap into millions of Yelp users, and now GrubHub and Seamless are expanding their reach.


Services: Delivery

Where: Available across major U.S. cities and used by 4,000+ restaurants and businesses.

Differentiator: They don’t just deliver food. Customers can order sushi from their favorite spot, a pair of headphones from Best Buy, or their favorite lipstick from Sephora.


Services: Delivery

Where: Major cities across North America, South America, and Moscow, Russia.

Differentiator: Faster delivery, boasting an average of 15 minutes. Customers can track orders from the restaurant to their front door.

Caviar (Square)

Services: Pick-up and delivery

Where: Available across major U.S. cities including Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Manhattan, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Queens, Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Portland, and Washington D.C.

Differentiator: The Cadillac of food delivery! Not that they deliver meals in Cadillacs…. As implied by the name, Caviar’s model implies a high-end treat. They only deliver from select restaurants for a flat fee of $9.99. Many of the restaurants on Caviar do not offer delivery of any kind and only offer delivery exclusively with Caviar.

Just Eat

Services: Pick-up and delivery

Where: Available in major Canadian cities

Differentiator: While widely available in Canada, the site also acts as a gateway to delivery sites across the UK, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Norway, New Zealand, Spain, and Switzerland.

Delivery-Only Restaurants

Restaurateur and celebrity chef David Chang is a trendsetter in the restaurant space: he’s essentially responsible for the ramen explosion as we know it. His newest venture is a delivery-only restaurant called Ando.

Ando changes the menu daily, and there are no tables or chairs. The no-dining restaurant isn’t a novel idea, though. Munchery, which launched in 2011, is now in ten states and offers meals created by in-house chefs. Savory, another delivery-only restaurant, caters to corporate clients and provides office workers with fresh food created by top New York City chefs.

Take out and delivery apps may differ slightly in their approach, but the underlying principle is to get great food to hungry customers.

What This Means for Restaurateurs

For customers, the basics of ordering have essentially stayed the same: pick up phone, choose food, wait for delivery. But for restaurant owners, online ordering means a new system. Restaurants no longer need to mail take out menus, wait for the phone to ring, make the food, then send it out with one of their employed drivers. Now restaurateurs can sign up for the take out and delivery apps in their area, upload their menus, and an independent delivery person will drop off outgoing orders. All the money is collected through the app, so restaurant owners can do what they do best – create delicious meals!

Take out and delivery apps offer another major benefit for restaurateurs: they literally put your business on the map. Once listed on local food apps, your establishment is presented to users who may not have known you exist, or didn’t think of your restaurant as an option for lunch or dinner. With the increase of apps bridging the gap between restaurant and customer, being tucked away on a quiet street doesn’t mean that you can’t be the busiest restaurant in your city, or at the least in your neighborhood.

Take out and delivery apps are here to stay. By leveraging the ones most popular in your area, you can increase your restaurant’s visibility and profits. To maximize your presence on these apps, be sure to optimize your menu options for easy portability and quick delivery (think watertight soup containers and spill-proof packaging), and upload great photos that present your food in a realistic, yet mouthwatering way.

Interested in learning more about restaurant tech? 

Tiffany was the Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, where she shared knowledge with restaurateurs on how to run their business. She's passionate about traveling the world and getting to know communities through great food.

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