Keeping the foodservice equipment marketplace up to date with the latest menu and concept trends.


Restaurants Focus on Delivery, Retail

With its rapid growth rate and appeal to younger consumers, delivery will only become a larger figure in the foodservice industry landscape. Here are five ways this emerging trend will impact foodservice operations.


If you haven’t already noticed, delivery services have exploded among restaurants, including both chains and independents. Third-party delivery vendors like Grubhub are now met with  self-employed drivers and startups like Postmates and DoorDash using drivers but also cyclists to cart food around in big cities. Even car-sharing company Uber has launched its UberEats app for food deliveries — including a partnership with McDonald’s to conduct deliveries — and Yelp has EAT24, a 24/7 delivery option for both chains like Subway and independents. Other chains that have recently launched third-party operated delivery services in select areas include Chipotle, Moe’s Southwest Grill, McAlister’s Deli, and Taco Bell.

Is delivery the future of the restaurant industry? The global food delivery market raked in $114 billion last year, according to Euromonitor. And the research firm expects revenue from global delivery to grow by 8.5 percent each year through 2021. One analyst there compared the way delivery is changing the current convenient eating landscape to the way drive-thru changed things years ago.

Delivery seems to cater to a younger audience that expects on-demand everything, from movies, games and other entertainment, to car service and of course, food and drink. According to Mintel, delivery remains most popular among Millennial males in urban markets — 69 percent of this group stated in a survey they ordered food delivered in the last 3 months of last year. Overall, 45 percent of Millennials have ordered delivery during this time.

Delivery is also finding a sweet spot among busy office workers who don’t always have time to step away for lunch.

People are more on the run than ever before and are looking for last-minute options but with the same quality, consistency, variety, and healthfulness they seek from traditional restaurant formats and their favorite grocery chains.

Maintaining Food Quality Via Delivery

That said, not all foods hold up to delivery. According to Datassential, the foods that travel the best are cookies (56 percent), pizza (52 percent ), peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (49 percent ) wings (41 percent ) and fried rice (41 percent ).

Things like burgers and fries take a little more innovation. For example, when Burger King launched a pilot delivery program a couple years ago, the chain used special two-compartment packaging to keep the cold items like condiments, lettuce and tomato, and even the bun away from the meat to prevent the burgers from getting soggy. And, special insulated packaging helped the fries stay crisp.

The biggest issue with delivery when using services like Postmates and DoorDash is trying to control the consistency and quality of the product. Many times, these services are called upon by the customer without knowledge of the restaurant. That’s why some restaurants proactively reach out to these delivery companies to provide them with the preferred delivery packaging and insulated containers or bags.

DoorDash execs have said the company uses its insulated bags specifically for food deliveries. But many restaurants take matters into their own hands.

In Chicago, Wow Bao, a Lettuce Entertain You brand serving Chinese-style stuffed buns, maintains these controls by using the same custom packaging for both carry-out and delivery to ensure the food stays fresh no matter who picks it up. When frozen dessert chain Pinkberry first partnered with Postmates a couple years ago, it took steps to run additional tests to determine how long its frozen yogurt would stay frozen before melting, such as in a bag on the back of someone’s bike. Pinkberry also worked with Postmates to set the preferred radius around each of its stores to make sure the product is delivered as timely as possible, Laura Jakobsen, senior vice president of marketing and design for the company, has said. For larger orders, the chain packs the yogurt on dry ice and provides both delivery runners and customers  with insulated coolers.

Dominos even introduced its own fleet of specially equipped cars with a built-in oven designed to keep pizzas warmer and fresher.

Aside from packaging, the continued popularity of restaurant and foodservice delivery could have a major impact on kitchen design.

Here are five more ways delivery services, and designers, could affect change:

  • Prep line segregation. Some restaurants design new stores or revamp existing ones that segregate food prep areas and lines for online orders and carry-out versus eat-in orders. Delivery might become a part of this for many if it hasn’t already. There could also be more separate pick-up lines or windows for third-party delivery folks from places like DoorDash and Postmates.
  • Packaging “centers.” Along the same lines of kitchen segregation, some restaurants might begin to create special packaging areas where they can stock special products like insulated bags and carriers meant specifically for third-party deliveries.
  • Technological innovation. From self-driving delivery units used in hospitals to ovens built into cars and robotic “arms” that can make salads, new technologies will lead to more automation in and out of the kitchen.
  • Smaller dining spaces. Dining in — particularly at fast-casuals and quick-serve outlets —could begin to be a thing of the past as deliveries increase. Designers might find more use out of making dining spaces smaller and kitchen and packaging areas bigger.
  • Special car and bike parking. With many DoorDash and Postmates deliveries going out via bike, fast-casuals might start to revamp their parking and drive-up areas to include more bike racks and/or specially designated parking spots for delivery drivers.

With so many changes to kitchens and restaurants on the horizon, delivery might just be the new drive-thru after all.