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Food Service Industry Updates

Report Finds Restaurants Adopting New Technologies to Meet Consumers’ Needs


Ninety-one percent of restaurants have made or plan to make investments in kitchen automation technology.

That’s according to a new report from Square, a San Francisco-based American financial services and merchant services aggregator. Square’s “Future of Restaurants” report reveals how restaurateurs are taking control of the future by delivering on customers’ evolving expectations — with an intentional focus on technology, operating efficiency and customer experiences.

Square said it developed the report to provide a snapshot of what businesses are investing in and what’s working. Square collaborated with Wakefield Research to survey restaurateurs and consumers across the U.S. Additionally, Square spoke to businesses and industry experts to share how restaurateurs are facing challenges, embracing innovative solutions and forging new paths forward in 2021.

“Scrappiness is in our sellers’ DNA and, in 2021, we’re expecting more of the same,” said Alyssa Henry, seller lead at Square. “It will be more important than ever to find creative ways to meet consumers where they are most comfortable, providing memorable experiences in-store, online, curbside and everywhere in between.”

For example, after chef Anthony Strong closed his popular San Francisco restaurant Prairie last August in the wake of COVID-19, Square found that he didn’t give up. Strong emerged a couple months later with a new concept: He transformed his 1989 Volkswagen van into a mobile dining room, traveling the city to serve up a four-course “glamping” dining experience.

“While shuttering Prairie was devastating, Strong did what entrepreneurs have done time and again — got back to work and innovated in the face of adversity,” Square reported.

The report found overwhelmingly that restaurants alike are undertaking big changes to existing strategies and adopting new technologies to stay ahead of the curve. For instance:

• 58% of restaurants prefer to use their own app or website for delivery. Restaurants expect 62% of their revenue to come from takeout or delivery in 2021.

• Nearly half of restaurant owners or managers plan to continue offering digital menu access using URL or QR codes in 2021.

• Three in four restaurants plan on offering contactless ordering and payment options across all channels, with 61% utilizing contactless payments on-premise.

• 42% of restaurants plan to invest in customer loyalty programs.

• 92% of restaurant owners and managers are open to experimenting with their menus.

“We’re seeing restaurants shift to a model that places more emphasis on the kitchen as the central hub of the operation,” said Bruce Bell, head of Square for restaurants. “Restaurants are embracing new channels for customers to interact with their business, effectively meeting them wherever they are. Each of these channels represents a revenue stream for the restaurant, and they connect to the same kitchen and are all managed by the same centralized point-of-sale system.”

Despite a difficult year, the future is full of opportunities for restaurateurs, according to Square. Click here to access the full report.