June 16

Online Ordering for Takeout Doesn’t Have to Bankrupt You


As the nation slowly re-opens, one thing is for sure — takeout will be the new normal for awhile. Here are some companies that help make that transition easier.

As restaurants across the nation receive the green light to slowly welcome guests back into their dining rooms, there is one thing you can count on — takeout orders will remain a key component of running a restaurant. We’re still dealing with the pandemic, and until there is a vaccine, there will continue to be uncertainty moving forward. As 3rd party delivery apps have dominated the food takeout space, we wanted to offer up a couple of our recommended alternatives – because there are options available that are more restaurant-friendly and want to help your business be exactly that, yours. While these alternatives don’t provide delivery service, they make the process of ordering online seamless for takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery if you have or want to start your own program.

Tock To Go
Tock, a restaurant reservation platform founded by Nick Kokonas of The Alinea Group in Chicago, foresaw the need to expand their reservation system to create a better takeout and delivery option for restaurants as COVID-19 began to shake our world. Within 6 days, they were able to launch Tock To Go. Director of Marketing Kyle Welter tells us, “a team of designers and engineers worked 24/7 to build a solution for restaurants to offer pickup and delivery — without paying the 20-30% commission fees most of the online ordering apps charge.”

With Tock To Go customers pre-order/reserve their pickup and delivery orders up to 14 days in advance and restaurant owners have control over what hours and items are available for takeout. One of the best parts about Tock To Go is that having customers pre-order allows restaurant owners better foresight when planning inventory and labor needs — saving them money in the long run. Tock To Go also keeps track of available items, so when a customer adds an order to their cart, it’s reserved for 7 minutes until they checkout. This removes any confusion on what’s available and overall gives your customers a better experience. Restaurant staff have access to two-way text messaging to allow safer and efficient transactions when handling curbside pick up and contactless delivery. Tock and Tock To Go allow you to manage all your dine-in and takeout reservations with one company. “Now as dining rooms begin to reopen,” says Welter, “Tock is the only system that puts restaurants in control to manage reservations, delivery, and takeout all in one place.”

ChowNow understands that what makes restaurants thrive is customer interaction, but they’re aware that those customers’ lives are more dependent on the internet than ever before. ChowNow aims to make a seamless experience for restaurants reaching guests online. Their site states, “Our products help restaurants get online quickly and easily so they can maintain direct relationships with their customers.”

ChowNow’s setup is very similar to other 3rd party delivery apps in that they provide restaurants with a tablet to receive incoming orders, they list your restaurant on their website for more exposure and they collect data on your customers and their orders. The difference is, they don’t offer their own delivery service and they make an effort to give restaurants more control over their online ordering presence, all without commission fees. With a monthly subscription, restaurants can control how customers order, either for pre-order — or ASAP, in which case your staff will accept the incoming order and then assign a time that the order will be ready. Customers visiting your website are not taken to a third-party site, but order right from your own page. Their ordering platform allows restaurants to connect ChowNow with Google Places, Facebook and Instagram, allowing more channels to customers and in-take more orders. ChowNow collects data on orders placed through them and gives restaurants full access to this information via their dashboard. For an extra price they also offer marketing, but you can use that data to create your own promotions if you want.

The truth is, takeout is not going anywhere. Food delivery and takeout was already becoming more relied on in our industry — the pandemic just set it in stone. If you haven’t thought about your takeout game, or you’re still figuring out what’s best for you and your restaurant — checkout Tock To Go and ChowNow. They are creating ways for restaurants to take advantage of their online presence and break away from 3rd party delivery apps that eat away at your profits.


About the author

Ashley McNally likes to cook, loves to bake, and is always dreaming of her next meal. With over 13 years of experience working in various roles within a restaurant — McNally has made a home in hospitality.

About the author

Ashley McNally likes to cook, loves to bake, and is always dreaming of her next meal. With over 13 years of experience working in various roles within a restaurant — McNally has made a home in hospitality.