Even before the pandemic, off-premises restaurant sales were growing, triggering restaurants to adopt better computer systems to meet rising demand.
The need to drive improvement in this part of the business was accelerated further by the arrival of third-party delivery services, which exploded onto the local scene about five years ago.
Now, the pandemic has forced the next phase of the off-premises operational trend. More restaurants are adding online ordering to their websites, often integrating this function into their restaurant’s ordering systems or third-party delivery aggregators.
“We have yet to run into a restaurant group that does not consider online ordering in some capacity,” says Lindsey Duga, director of accounts for Gatorworks, which has designed several Baton Rouge-area restaurant websites, including Gov’t Taco’s. “It has definitely been growing.”
Duga says online ordering gives restaurants better quality control over incoming to-go orders and gives customers a better experience.
On-premises dining sales have historically been higher per ticket than off-premises sales because of the ability to sell alcohol. But during the pandemic, the East Baton Rouge Metro Council enabled restaurants to sell alcohol with to-go orders, which changed the game.
Bistro Byronz and Pizza Byronz operator Emelie Alton says there’s no question about whether to-go orders will continue to be important to the business, and plans to invest more into making their online ordering system more seamless.
“It’s all about how do you efficiently get orders in so that your staff can handle them, and how do you make sure your customer is having a good experience,” she says.