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What is the tech stack used by tech-forward and traditional restaurants, including website building, mobile apps, POS, delivery, and logistics?

Chris Webb

Co-founder & CEO at ChowNow

Part of the challenge in answering the question is that defining typical is nearly impossible. You have your French Laundry, you have McDonald's, and you have your little popup that's run two days a week out of a back alley, and they're all considered restaurants—but could not be further apart in terms of how they operate. 

Within the realm of the many tens of thousands of restaurants we work with at ChowNow, point of sale technology is now standard and has been for a little bit. Restaurants are probably the last industry to move to cloud-based anything, but they’re catching up when it comes to cloud-based point of sale systems. 

Some of the “new school” point of sales systems are seeing quite a bit of traction and momentum—Toast is clearly a powerhouse and has built a really great product and brand over the last few years; Clover and Square are right up there, too.

There are probably about five or six modern, cloud-based point of sale systems that almost every restaurant has either just moved to or is moving to. I think in four or five years you'll have a hard time finding a restaurant that's not using a cloud-based point of sale system. Initially, adoption was slow, but it has picked up a lot of steam in the last two or three years, and I do think Covid has played a factor. 

There are a lot of new restaurant openings finally after being so slow for a while. Obviously, Covid drove a lot of restaurants out of business as we're all aware, but a majority of the people behind the restaurants didn't go anywhere. 

They're still restaurant people—they love restaurants, they love food, they love everything about restaurants and food. Many of them are now coming back with a new version of something that they've dreamed of opening, that sat on the sidelines for a couple years or a year, and now you're seeing a lot of restaurants opening. And when you open a new restaurant, there’s a really strong chance you’re going to adopt a cloud-based point of sale system. I can't think of any restaurant that I've seen open in the last 6 to 12 months that doesn't have a cloud-based point of sale system. 

In terms of the rest of the tech stack, takeout is a big focus. This is obviously where ChowNow plays. When Covid hit, we had the right product that restaurants all needed, and therefore, we grew quite a bit over the last few years. What I believe restaurants have learned, in my opinion, is that they need a diversified revenue stream. Even sit down restaurants that did little to no takeout are all now thinking about takeout– whether it's pickup and/or delivery– they all have a playbook for it. It might be in the form of a modified menu offering some of their favorite dishes (that also travel well) versus their entire menu; the menu may not change all that often, it's something they run on the side.

Just about every restaurant—with few exceptions—is thinking about takeout and runs some type of takeout program. Again, there's some exceptions—some very fine dining restaurants still don't do takeout—but by and large, a much larger percent of the industry offers some level of takeout today than three or four years ago. I think that’s here to stay. 

There are others out there in the space. Goldbelly has grown quite a bit, which is a different version of takeout. 

A broader theme here is that restaurants are increasingly thinking about how they can drive business revenue from outside their four walls. The key of the game is not being reliant on any one thing—which has been true of many other businesses and industries for so long, just not restaurants.

No one wants to get caught like they did in March and April of 2020 when their revenue went to zero because they didn't do any takeout prior to the pandemic.

Find this answer in Chris Webb, CEO of ChowNow, on the new restaurant stack
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