A Complete Guide to Restaurant App Development (Steps + Cost)

Key Takeaways:

  • Developing a restaurant app is a 7 steps process that includes market research to maintain your mobile app.
  • The cost to build a restaurant app differs in factors like features, design complexity, and development team expertise.
  • A list of unique apps idea for developing a restaurant app for your business.

51.5% of the time, customers want their food served from the restaurant’s own app. This fact alone proves that your restaurant needs an app. But what options do you have for restaurant app development? There are so many restaurant app ideas and for each, you need to follow a different development process.

Therefore, in this guide, we will make a step-by-step breakdown of the mobile app development process and then explore unique app ideas. So, let’s get started without further delay.

Advantages to Build Restaurant App

Indeed, any restaurant owner aspires to have a well-organized smartphone app and a strong online presence in order to draw a large number of customers in a short period of time.

Advantages to build restaurant app

Here are the top advantages of using information technology in the food industry.

  1. Smooth Customer Experience

    First and foremost, consumers can order food from their favorite restaurants without trouble. Second, consumers can have flexibility in their orders, not just in terms of food selection, but also in terms of delivery timing. After this, consumers are kept updated during the operation and can follow the location of their food using a GPS chart viewed on their mobile device. In general, this simple and pleasant consumer service has resulted in increased customer retention, sales, and revenue.

  2. Build loyalty

    Customer loyalty is crucial to a restaurant’s success. However, high-quality food and exceptional customer service are rarely enough to earn, maintain, and grow customer loyalty. Customers hope to be compensated with their continued support. Enable your guests to gain points for unique acts, which they can then track and redeem for things like free menu items.

  3. Personalization

    If your users like less salt in the diet or more condiments to mix it up to their liking, on-demand food apps give you a lot of flexibility in customizing their meals. They may also choose restaurants with the quickest delivery times and provide special orders to the delivery agent, such as not ringing the doorbell or bringing extra cutlery. Customers will get a much more customized restaurant experience with on-demand food applications than they do with conventional restaurant delivery.

  4. Better Service

    While developing a restaurant finder app for your restaurant is primarily focused on the customer and their experiences, it can also help with the on-site operation… as well as the feedback that supports it.

    In case of rush hours, instead of waiting for in-shop fulfillment, your staff can see a new order as soon as it comes in, put it together, price it, and prepare it for immediate carryout. Your carry-out customers would only spend a few moments in your shop and are happily on their way, clearing out your small standing dining area for other carry-out customers and your traditional customers waiting for seating.

  5. Better Payment Processing

    Customers and restaurants alike benefit from the ease that mobile payments bring. Customers will do payment online for their orders in whatever manner they choose directly via the app. In the case of restaurants, processing purchases directly from the restaurant smartphone app frees up staff to focus on more important activities, allowing them to execute more orders and increasing efficiency.

  6. Location-Based Marketing

    This is a brand-new feature that will help you improve your restaurant’s revenue. This technology is used by Apple’s iBeacon. It’s simply a small gadget that sends a push notification to a customer who is within walking distance of your restaurants. You can tempt and lure your clients in this way by giving them offers they can’t resist.

    You may also rely on a person’s GPS settings to tell you where they are and send out detailed offer information if you have several locations. You may also like to read in detail about what is a location-based app and how it works.

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How to Make a Restaurant App [Step-By-Step]

Restaurant mobile app development is a multi-step project that involves more than just coding. Before you can get your hands on a ready-to-use restaurant ordering app, you’ll need to go through a set of steps.

How to make a restaurant app

Here is the detailed step-by-step breakdown.

Step 1. Conduct Market Research

The first phase in developing a restaurant app should be market analysis. It’s important to know…

  • Who your future app’s target demographic is
  • What challenges your potential clients are actually facing,
  • How you can build a restaurant app that addresses all of these issues. and
  • What will be your primary and secondary business goals

Then, you can determine the main collaborators and develop a strategy for basic restaurant operations, resource use, and value proposition. You may sit down with your squad and find out what you’ll need to make a custom app for food delivery.

Step 2. Define Business Goals

You must make a mobile app from scratch that suits the needs of the target audience. As a result, begin by specifying the specifications. If not more, at least, keep track of the demographics of the audience, paying attention to things like age, gender, race, and income.

Then you should be aware of the implications of creating a restaurant smartphone app. For that, consider the most important KPIs, set business targets, look for multiple platforms and work out the most effective strategies for producing the desired performance.

Step 3. Approach Mobile App Development Company

One of the most difficult challenges you can encounter is locating a reputable and competent restaurant app development company. Therefore, you should treat this aspect with caution and choose an IT consulting services provider that has the expertise in developing a restaurant app.

Plus, make sure they provide UI/UX design facilities since a restaurant app is most widely used among the app users.

Step 4. List Out Features

At this point, you should consider how you want to build a restaurant app and which functionality it should have. You can build a product pipeline and list all of the engaging functionality that will be introduced during the restaurant apps development period for better business growth with the assistance of a competent software development firm.

Step 5. UI/UX Design

A successful restaurant app’s main purpose is to solve real issues, so when a user orders food online from your restaurant apps and websites, it should have a smooth user interface and a clean design. It means an interactive and client-centered UI/UX design.

The following are some of the most important phases in software development:

  • Research
  • User experience design
  • Visual design
  • Branding
  • Illustrations & animations

While the design is the foundation of your app’s success, do not forget to customize your restaurant locator app with your restaurant’s logo and edit the color scheme to match your brand.

Step 6. Test & Launch

When creating an app for your restaurant, testing it thoroughly is the most important aspect of the app development process. By the time you’re about to release your own app, you should have thoroughly incorporated all of the functionality so that everything runs smoothly.

Step 7. Collect Feedback

How can you make a restaurant app that people would like to use? You can learn which features are helpful and which ones your program needs by gathering reviews on your items. The process should be ongoing, and it’s best to pay careful attention to feedback after some new feature is released.

It’s also a smart idea to launch a marketing campaign to help you educate the world about your product, whether you’re making a smartphone app for restaurant ordering or one for in app ordering food from home.

MVP Features for Restaurant App Development

Now that you’ve made the wise decision to create a restaurant food ordering app, the next step is to consider what features to have. The purpose MVP (Minimum Viable Product) development may vary from person to person like want to enter the market with a small budget, minimizing the errors, collect the maximum feedback and improve the product for future use, finding the exact audience, etc.

MVP features to build a restaurant app

We’ve assembled a list of the top MVP features that any restaurant app should provide in order to be popular with customers.

  1. Menu Screens

    Any online food ordering app must have this functionality. This method should show how dishes look like, include a list of ingredients, and, if possible, include a list of customization options. In short, a clean and interactive menu that encourages users to order food online.

    So, if you are developing a restaurant app, you must consider designing and optimizing an enticing and entertaining menu. High-quality images and an order button that enables users to order food directly from the menu should be included in this critical part of the user interface.

  2. Online Orders

    People are mostly short on time, which is why they often use food restaurant applications to place orders or place pre-orders. The Starbucks application has successfully introduced this function. Customers who put pre-orders electronically stop waiting in queues to place and collect their orders. This is why, in today’s world, the online food ordering feature is a must-have.

  3. Table Reservations

    Even if your restaurant is small, it can be so popular that walk-in customers have difficulty finding a seat. Perhaps the restaurant may be a high-end establishment that does not accept walk-ins and instead allows table booking.

    Regardless of the case, customers should be able to make restaurant reservations using the restaurant’s mobile app. This reduces customer frustration, which is almost often exacerbated by long waits for a table and allows them to plan their evening to perfection.

  4. Nearby Restaurants

    For a restaurant with many locations, this function is very helpful. Consider using this if you plan to build a high-quality restaurant app. You may use geolocation to direct tourists to the nearest location or invite them to visit your location if they are in the area.

  5. Social Media Interaction

    Social networking has been inextricably tied to our lives. As a result, it should be a requirement of every restaurant plan. Create a restaurant app with social media integration, since this is one way to allow for easy registration inside the app. Enable customers to share photographs of their meals on social media and leave reviews so that you can capitalize on the power of social media marketing and word-of-mouth to expand your business.

  6. Push Notifications

    These alerts may be used for a variety of purposes. You may notify customers to let them know about upcoming activities, promotional deals, and discounts, for example. These would serve to remind them of your restaurants and encourage them to return more often.

  7. Loyalty Program

    Loyal customers who have been patient for a long time deserve special treatment. The loyalty programs are the best ways to treat them with vouchers, bonuses, and exclusive sales to make them feel special. Since they still have their smartphones with them, they will use the incentives as a part of loyalty programs if they visit your establishment.

Advanced Features for Restaurant App Development

If you want to make a unique restaurant application, the most fascinating and novel features that will work in the development of a custom restaurant app are described below.

Advanced features for restaurant app development

  1. In-App Messages

    What if you had anyone available to answer your customers’ questions through the app? There’s no reason to recruit a full-time employee because we have Rasa chatbots. Artificial intelligence has allowed solutions to learn how to answer various questions, considering the fact that it is a relatively recent technology in the restaurant industry. Although still new to the restaurant industry, they bring a layer of personalization that will make you stand out.

  2. Gamification

    Gamification is another functionality in mobile devices quickly becoming common in many restaurant ordering applications. Its psychological nature is a significant factor in its development.

    Gamification basically means that the restaurant food application employs game mechanics to compensate users for completing tasks. So, for your restaurant application, you must set challenges for your app’s users to increase interaction.

  3. Influencer Marketing

    Influencer marketing is unquestionably at an all-time peak. And you can take advantage of it in order to expand your multi-restaurant delivery business.

    What exactly is influencer marketing, though? It’s a natural continuation of word-of-mouth marketing. The concept is that an influencer’s trusted fans would translate into revenue.

    Another rising trend in influencer marketing is micro-influencers. Micro-influencers are people who have a limited number of fans (few thousand). Many people assume that micro-influencers are more powerful because their relationships with their followers are more trustworthy.

  4. Customer Feedback Portal

    Customer feedback is the easiest and most powerful method for gathering information to help you improve the app. To stay ahead of the competition, you must check and make appropriate updates to the app on a regular basis.

    Furthermore, who else than the consumers themselves to review and suggest changes? You can have a feedback mechanism that encourages the users to post their views and it allows you to learn about the needs of your clients, which you can then address later to improve and provide a seamless user experience.

  5. Restaurant Staff Management

    This function is essential in order to keep track of restaurant workers and boost productivity. The restaurant would not be overworked or underworked as a result of this. You can also keep track of the employees’ current success.

    You can make the requisite changes depending on the staff’s observations. It increases efficiency and flexibility, ensuring that the right number of employees are present to finish the job on time.

  6. Advocacy Rewards

    Referral programs and rewards, also known as advocacy, are a relatively recent app functionality. They’ve traditionally been seen in B2B companies, where sales are less common than in B2C. With our mobile apps solutions, it’s now possible to automate activism promotions due to technical advances.

    While customer trust in brands, newspapers, and journalists is eroding, customer advocacy is becoming more critical. All modes of marketing convert at the minimum rate, but word-of-mouth converts at the highest rate.

  7. Geo-Targeting Tech

    Finally, there’s geo-targeting. Businesses will use this technology to reach customers depending on their position and engage with them in real-time. When people sign up for location-based services, advertisers will send them discounts and coupons when they’re in the shop, or even when they’re near one.

Unique Restaurant App Ideas (Types of Restaurant App)

Despite the fact that the task of developing a restaurant mobile app can be tackled in a variety of ways, there are a few distinct categories that predominate among applications for the food industry.

We believe the choices below are good options for mobile restaurant apps and websites because they are all common in the food industry today.

  1. Food Ordering & Delivery App

    This type of food ordering app is for placing orders for food and delivering them to the client location. It is used by the waiter and customer to accept orders from customers and keep track of them for billing purposes.

    It mainly includes,

    • Live Tracking Delivery: To accept and monitor reservations from your dispatching restaurant.
    • Corporate Food Ordering: To deliver food to the corporate in small and large companies is a great business idea for startups.
  2. Food Ordering Market Place App Idea

    The most common names are “Zomato,” “Swiggy,” and “Uber Eats.” Why do we need them in the first place? and why are they so well-liked? First and foremost, they are all food delivery mobile apps. If restaurant owners do not want to invest in their own food app creation but also need to create an online presence, this Food Ordering marketplace app is the perfect option to acquire new customers.

    The Food Ordering Marketplace app provides restaurant owners with an online forum to view their menus in front of hungry customers. The main benefit of this type of application is that it improves consumer comfort by bringing meals to their doorsteps.

  3. AR-Based Restaurant Apps

    How many times have you declined a restaurant reservation because you were unsure of what to expect from the restaurant? Or how many times have you found a restaurant enticing solely because of its beautiful interior? The dining experience in restaurants, particularly on your favorite tours, is about more than just the food. It’s also about the environment.

    Therefore, the augmented reality smartphone app allows you to immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of various sought-after restaurants around cities and travel destinations. Such innovation has the potential to attract the hearts of millions of travelers who want to get a taste of the environment they are about to join.

  4. Make your own dish app

    So many customers are there who enjoy eating authentic cuisines prepared by themselves. You could grab this opportunity and create a cooking app for your customers that allows them to choose their own recipes and get them prepared by a skilled chef.

    This kind of approach to your restaurant would make your customers feel unique, and it’s a concept that few people have tried before. To compete with online food delivery apps such as SkipTheDishes, Tim Hortons, and Foodora, the local restaurant must introduce a new element in the form of a cooking app.

  5. Table Reservation App

    Who wants to risk valuable clients during the weekend rush? Nobody. The table reservation app concept is the best for your restaurant as it will run smoothly and better attend to each customer. This restaurant smartphone app concept would represent your food ordering services in a more poised and classy manner than your rivals. So, allow your users to reserve tables, time slot, date, and favorite food order so that your service beats the clock and the customer is delighted with your luxurious care.

  6. Kitchen Management App Idea

    This type of food ordering app is specifically linked to a restaurant’s kitchen, which ensures that anytime a customer orders food from their office or table, the kitchen department is notified of the food item requested by the customer. After being alerted, the kitchen department will begin cooking the food that has been requested. Since everything is handled by mobile apps, it makes things fast and convenient for the parties involved (customer and the restaurant business owner).

  7. Food Inventory Apps

    Analyzing the food spending is always the link between restaurants doing well and having rapid growth. However, several owners, operators, and administrators would confess that they don’t have a lot of time to devote to it. Therefore, food inventory applications allow you to digitize your counting instead of using spreadsheets. They assist you with organizing and save you time. What’s more, the easy inventory solutions allow you to measure the true cost of goods sold. This helps you to keep track of how much you waste on food.

  8. An App To Supply Leftover Food To Poor

    This is an entirely new concept as a commercial venture will literally be introduced to distribute restaurant leftovers to the needy and homeless populations in cities. Since the number of homeless and poor people is increasingly growing in many countries, the concept has the potential to spark a social revolution that benefits the less fortunate.

  9. Restaurant POS Systems

    Restaurant POS system is a web-based billing processing program that can handle all types of orders, including dine-in, delivery options, and take-out. A restaurant POS system is specifically developed to support and assist the food and beverage industry, and it streamlines every aspect of the restaurant’s operations, rendering restaurant management a breeze for a restaurateur.

  10. Self-Ordering Kiosk Systems

    Customers can place orders directly at the self-ordered kiosk (computer terminal featuring specialized hardware), which can be used as a self-service food ordering machine. Customers can select from the entire restaurant menu at the kiosk, which is a small free-standing physical structure. Without the help of a cashier or clerk, orders are put directly at the kiosk system.

Making an app is important in today’s digital age, but do you know what app ideas for startups are successful in the food industry? Here’s the list of best app ideas that will change the world.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Restaurant App?

Depending on the functionalities and features you are looking to add to your restaurant’s online ordering app, the cost of a restaurant mobile app would come out to $20,000 to $110,000.

These costs consist of customized mobile app design, development of both Android or iOS versions, app testing, and final launch.

For a detailed breakdown of restaurant app development cost, refer to the below table.

Total CostTimeline
Basic App$20,000-$50,0003-5 months
Mid-sized App$50,000-$120,0004-9 months
Complex App$200,000-$230,000More than 9 months

Want to Know the Cost and Timeline of the Restaurant App?

Discuss your requirements with us. Our skillful mobile consultants will validate your idea and provide a cost and timeline.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why does your restaurant need a mobile app?

    Aside from retail revenue and market exposure, a smartphone app will boost customer experience. Any time a user accesses an app, they can easily search goods and services is provided. Customers can have the same interface regardless of which page or mobile screen they visit.

  2. What is the cost to develop a restaurant app?

    To provide an approximate estimate, a simple mobile app would set you back about $50,000. Food ordering apps and websites with complexity would cost between $160,000 and $170,000. Advanced restaurant apps usually cost more than $240,000.

  3. How much time will it take to develop a restaurant app?

    The restaurant app development period usually takes between two and five months. However, there are multiple factors that may slow down the overall process, like complexity, number of platforms, etc.

  4. Can I automate my restaurant business by developing a restaurant app?

    Yes. By building restaurant apps, your business can offer mobile ordering, offer loyalty program sign-ups at the table, and complete food processing management at a single-stop solution.

  5. Can you build a mobile POS for my restaurant?

    Yes. At Space-O, our expert developers can build you a POS system for your restaurant that processes the transactions that happen at restaurants.

  6. Is a food delivery app beneficial for my restaurant business?

    Yes. Food delivery apps help businesses to streamline orders and increase revenue by a simple mobile ordering mechanism. Both the customer and the restaurant profit from the integrated method.

  7. Can you build a financial report feature in a restaurant app?

    Of course, yes. With our developed mobile solution for restaurants, you can monitor your restaurant’s performance in real-time by financial and analytical report feature.


The market share of restaurant-related applications is one of the fastest-growing markets. Nobody would argue that having a smartphone app for restaurant automation is a godsend. It not only inspires buyers to examine your food but also allows your restaurant to retain a clear brand awareness in the minds of restaurant customers.

Also, with the growing demand for restaurant applications, a large number of restaurant app manufacturers are now offering world-class app design services for their hotel business. If you’re thinking of having one, please don’t hesitate to write to us. We are a professional mobile app development company in Toronto. Our experts will guide you throughout the app development process. For more queries, contact us at any time.

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Rakesh Patel

Written by

Rakesh Patel is the Founder and CEO of Space-O Technologies (Canada). He has 28 years of IT experience in business strategies, operations & information technology. He has expertise in various aspects of business like project planning, sales, and marketing, and has successfully defined flawless business models for the clients. A techie by mind and a writer at heart, he has authored two books – Enterprise Mobility: Strategy & Solutions and A Guide To Open311

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