Off-Premise Eating: 9 Tips for Take Out and Delivery Success

Feb 13, 2024

In an era shaped by convenience and evolving lifestyles, especially post-COVID, consumer preferences continue to gravitate toward the ease and efficiency of delivery and takeout services. Despite fluctuations in the dining landscape, the demand for off-premise dining experiences remains robust.


What is Off-Premise Dining?

Off-premise dining refers to consuming food and beverages outside of the traditional dining establishment, such as restaurants, cafes, or bars—literally. This includes options like takeout, delivery, drive-thru, curbside pickup, catering, and food truck services. In off-premise dining, customers order their meals remotely and enjoy them in their chosen location, whether it be at home, at work, or on the go. This model has gained significant popularity in recent years, driven by changing consumer preferences, technological advancements, and the convenience it offers busy individuals and families. COVID-19 proved to amplify off-premise dining as consumers were essentially banned from indoor dining for quite some time.

A 2021 study by Nextbite, a virtual restaurant leader, revealed that food delivery is increasingly popular among consumers. Forty-three percent of respondents order food delivery at least once a month, with 23% doing so weekly. While millennials remain the most frequent users, older age groups also embrace delivery, with 40% of monthly users over 40. Gen Z, in particular, shows high interest, with an average income of $119K, indicating a lucrative market for restaurants offering delivery options. The study surveyed 3,012 consumers across the United States in Fall 2021.


Implementing and catering to take-out and delivery options at restaurants requires a comprehensive approach that addresses various aspects of the operation. Here are some strategies to effectively do so:


Streamlined Ordering Process: Simplify the ordering process through an intuitive and user-friendly online platform or mobile app. Ensure that customers can easily browse the menu, customize their orders, and securely complete transactions.


Efficient Packaging Solutions: Invest in packaging that maintains food quality and presentation during transit. Consider eco-friendly options while ensuring durability and spill-proof designs. There’s nothing fun about scooping soup out of the bottom of a plastic bag.


takeout containers
To-go containers


Optimized Menu Selection: Curate a menu tailored specifically for takeout and delivery, focusing on items that travel well and maintain freshness. Offer convenient meal bundles or family-sized portions to appeal to larger groups. In 2023, IHOP introduced portable menu items–Pancake Tacos–to cater to off-premise dining, which accounts for 20% of their sales.


Accurate Delivery Estimates: Provide accurate delivery time estimates to manage customer expectations and enhance satisfaction. Utilize technology to track orders in real time and communicate any delays promptly.


Seamless Delivery Logistics: Partner with reliable third-party delivery services or establish an in-house delivery team to ensure timely and efficient deliveries. Monitor performance metrics and address any issues promptly to maintain service quality.


Promotional Offers and Loyalty Programs: Implement promotional offers, discounts, and loyalty programs to incentivize repeat orders and foster customer loyalty. Utilize targeted marketing campaigns to promote take-out and delivery options to your existing customer base. In 2023, Panda Express launched its first national rewards program, Panda Rewards, offering guests personalized points for every dollar spent, including surprises and exclusive gifts.


Enhanced Communication Channels: Maintain open communication channels with customers through email, SMS, or push notifications to provide updates on promotions, new menu items, and order statuses. Promptly address customer inquiries and feedback to build trust and loyalty.


Consistent Quality Control: Establish strict quality control measures to ensure food is prepared to the same standards as dine-in orders. Train staff members on proper packaging techniques and food handling practices for off-premise orders.


Data Analysis and Optimization: Leverage data analytics to gain insights into customer preferences, ordering patterns, and popular menu items. Use this information to optimize menu offerings, pricing strategies, and operational efficiency.


By implementing these strategies, restaurants can effectively cater to take-out and delivery options, providing customers with a seamless and satisfying experience while maximizing revenue opportunities.