As a player in the Fast-Casual restaurant construction market, JH Greene has been confronted with some interesting shifts in scope for these clients recently. While scrolling through some news publications, I noticed an article covering the exact topic. With firms such as GrubHub and DoorDash dramatically changing the way people reach restaurants, restaurants must adapt their point-of-sale systems to accommodate both online/mobile ordering, and in-person consumers. These digital channels present a nice opportunity to expand customer bases, but also some challenges to restauranteurs struggling to keep pace.
A recent Fast Casual Magazine article points out that while the potential is exciting for growing business, there is also the devil’s advocate perspective that sales can become increasingly dependent on these external avenues. Some business owners equate the rise of these companies with their customers being stolen. Worst case scenario, a restaurant’s in-person experience can become completely undesired.
Aman Narang, co-founder and president of a POS provider, Toast, agreed and predicted that customers demanding delivery service will be one of the most disruptive trends in 2019.
From a construction perspective, this means a memorable dining experience is all the more important. In-person should be the priority, then when a quicker option is needed, it serves as a memory of the unique brick and mortar experience.
I polled some JH Greene estimators on the topic and they had some interesting thoughts on some of the digital ordering stations they’ve been seeing recently synced with POS systems— completely changing the whole flow of a restaurant. For example, in some of the health-food focused fast casuals we’ve worked with, there are 4-5 ordering monitors where customers use touch-screen monitors to place their customized order.
Whether a smoothie’s ingredients or specification of food allergies, these systems completely remove any verbal exchange and allow for an “order number” to be produced to each person in the queue. We’ve seen circumstances where payment is even taken care of at these stands and food is picked up once a number appears on a screen near a pick-up window.
The whole restaurant format changes up within this model without the need for wrap around lines awaiting one cash register. There are also many more opportunities for creative, eye-catching millwork that we’ve seen from these stations.
No matter the type of cuisine, we’ve been seeing more small-format restaurants than ever before. This represents a smaller investment in construction costs, and just as effective of a space for many concepts. Outdoor integration with large-garage doors separating indoor and outside dining areas is another tendency 2019 seems to be bringing more prevalently.
As of now, the future is looking good for restaurants with inventive ideas. Regardless of factors like third party food delivery, strong restaurant concepts will thrive along with the changing times.