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Increase your Restaurant's Instagram Following

Whether you’ve just created your restaurant’s Instagram page, or you’ve had it for years, increasing your following is always in your best interest. Using Instagram accurately can be overwhelming, especially with all the new marketing information that’s put forth daily. We’ve come up with a few quick, simple ways which you can utilize to increase your restaurant’s Instagram following and influence.

  1. High Quality Images

  Make sure the images you’re using are of the highest quality, and be strict about what you post. If you have nothing to share that day, don’t share anything. It’s best to keep the aesthetic of the page instead of crowding the content with low quality images.

2. Focus on What You Have to Offer

In addition to making sure all your images are of the highest quality, highlight the food you have to offer with quippy quotes, cool descriptions, and interesting captions. The goal is to make people want what you have to offer, and the best way to do this is to promote what you have. If you have an interesting special, make sure you post about it.

3. Follow Other Restaurants

Increase your following by following other restaurant pages. Not only will this give you inspiration about what to post, but you’ll also get follows back. Make sure you also follow all customers that follow you, and find related pages through the Explore page.

4. Personal Touch

Stick to your brand identity, and make sure you know what it is. Create a solid foundation for the content you wish to produce based on the theme of your restaurant and what you stand for. Make sure you have a solid understanding of what this is, and then create posts that fit the theme.

5. Go Behind the Scenes

Customers love to see behind the scenes action! Give a little history on the food, how it’s made, etc. so that customers have an inside look into what goes on in the restaurant. Not only will this make you more endearing to your loyal customers, but it will also create more interesting content.

There you have it! Try out those simple tricks and techniques and let us know how it goes. With a little legwork, you can increase your Instagram following in no time.

2018-04-24 00:00:00
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5 Ways to Take Your Restaurant Instagram Posts to the Next Level

restaurant instagram posts

There’s no denying it: food porn rules the restaurant world. That's why 69% of restaurants are using Instagram

Since many businesses have social media accounts, it can make your restaurant Instagram posts stand out.

Believe it or not, it actually isn't too difficult to make Insta work for you.

A huge majority of restaurants on Instagram play it safe because that works for them, but they could be doing so much more to boost their audience engagement. Let's explore five ways to make your restaurant Instagram posts stand out in a sea of digital competition. 

Once you catch yourself up on the latest insight, head over to our Restaurant Social Media Guide and learn how to equip your restaurant with the best social media knowledge. 

Click here to get the Restaurant Social Media Guide

Infographic: The Facts of Restaurant Instagram Posts

People from all walks of life use Instagram, but as a restaurateur, you should pay the most attention to the milliennails and gen Z users of the website. 

As the infographic from Fundera below points out, the majority of millennials snap a photo of their food before they indulge, often sharing the picture with their followers and friends. 

Letting your guests put out your restaurant Instagram posts for you is easy – and free. To make your restaurant more Instagram-friendly, take note of the tips provided in the infographic:

  • Feature the more popular "grammed" foods, like pizza, burgers, and sushi.
  • Keep your restaurant well-lit.
  • Pay attention to the detail of your plates and glassware for added aesthetic. 

Follow these best practices and a lot of the work will be done for you.


Crafting Your Own Restaurant Instagram Posts

Want to take the restaurant Instagram game in house? Good choice. While word of mouth from fans is essential, nothing can replace a strong presence on your own Instagram account.

Here are 5 key strategies to make your restaurant Instagram account stand out that are favored by social media experts. Incorporate them into your own social media plans, and you should be able to take your Instagram presence to whole new level. 

1. Build a content calendar

Unlike Twitter or Facebook, Instagram is a platform that really thrives on spontaneity. It’s all about capturing those candid moments in your restaurant.

But at the same time, it helps to have a basic framework in mind for your posts so you can continue to post consistently, which is really the key to building up an engaged audience.

Draft up a schedule of your upcoming events and promotions so you know how many posts you have to do in the lead up. And to save yourself time at the start of the week, plan out different themes that you want to cover each day so that your content remains diverse. For example, on Monday you could share an inspiring quote about coffee, on Tuesday something from your breakfast menu, on Wednesday the lunch special, and so on. Check out this well-structured content calendar from Kissmetrics that might be helpful. 

2. Encourage customers to post content for you 

Encouraging customers to create content on your behalf is a fantastic way to get word out about your venue. People are already taking photos of your food – so give them an incentive to do it more often!

For example, get your front of house to tell diners that you’re running an Instagram contenst. The campaign could be quite simple: if they take a photo of their meal and use a specific hashtag, they could enter to win a free breakfast (or a different prize of your choosing). Make sure your hashtag is visible throughout the room so they are constantly reminded of it – on the menu board, on tables, by the cash register.

And when customers do share photos of your venue, put them in the spotlight. Use an app called Repost to share their photo on your Instagram page. That way you’re showing them that you really appreciate their participation, and you’re showing potential new customers how much people love your venue.


3. Connect with influencers

There’s no denying the power of Instagram celebrities. Just look at the Kardashians – it’s fair to say half of their fame is built on their Instagram accounts, where they have millions of followers.

That’s not to say you have to contact a Hollywood celebrity to get the word out about your restaurant. Instead, find out who the active and popular Instagram users are in your area. Look for food bloggers who have an influential presence. Then reach out to them personally and ask if they might be interested in doing something called an Instagram takeover.

Essentially, this means they take over your Instagram account for a short period of time (say seven days). During this time, they have the freedom to post whatever feels natural to them, whether it’s pictures of your food, behind the scenes with your team, or with their friends hanging out in your dining room. Food Republic regularly allow chefs to take over their Instagram account using the hashtag #FRTakeover, and it boosts their following every time. Take a look – they have more than 200,000 followers!

4. Research your hashtags

 Instead of randomly choosing the first hashtags that come to mind, research the hashtags you want to use, so you can make sure you’re reaching the right audience.

Use a mix of popular, general hashtags like #foodporn or #coffeelover, and niche hashtags that target customers in your location.

To find the right hashtags for your restaurant, use a free tool called Iconosquare. Just type a hashtag that you want to research into the search tool, and you’ll quickly see how many people are using it (how niche is it), who is using it (are they the right audience?) and what other related hashtags you can add to your post to increase your reach.

The number of hashtags followers are willing to tolerate from you can differ depending on your audience; however, six or seven is a good starting off point. Remember, it’s a balancing act. If you use too few, you’ll miss out on new followers, but if you go crazy with it, you’ll look a bit too eager. This post by the Grounds of Alexandria uses a great balance of location-specific and general hashtags:

5. Use apps to make your posts stand out

There are a heap of apps out there that you can use to jazz up your photos and videos. Not only do they save you from hiring a professional graphic designer, but they also increase the shareability of your posts. 

Here are some of the best: 

  • Over – Over adds stylistic text to your photos, which is perfect for promotions and inspiring coffee quotes.
  • Photo Grid – Photo Grid helps you create photo collages, and has over 300 layout templates to choose from.
  • Replay – This brilliant editing app lets you cut together videos and add filters, graphics and music.
  • Latergramme - Latergramme allows you to schedule posts in advance, which is incredibly handy when you’re too busy to manage Instagram during the week. It also allows you to manage multiple Instagram accounts from one platform, so you don't have to log in and out to switch between your personal account and your business account.
  • Flipagram – Flipagram lets you create video slideshows to popular songs. Here’s a fun example.

The most important thing to remember about Instagram is this: authenticity is everything. While paid advertising is now becoming available on the platform, users aren’t yet accustomed to it like they are on Facebook. They prefer brands with a strong personal identity. In other words, they want to feel like they’re talking to another person when they visit your restaurant’s Instagram page. Keep that in mind when crafting your posts, and you will quickly build a loyal new following.  

This article is compliments of Toast.

As always, check out for all your restaurant needs.

2018-01-30 00:00:00
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The Top 12 Restaurant Food and Tech Predictions for 2018

2018 restaurant tech predictions

Last year, we premiered our very first tech predictions blog. You loved it so much that we brought it back in 2018!

Below are some bold restaurant predictions from Toast's leadership team. Plus, we pulled some of the top food and technology predictions to give a sense of where the market is heading in the next 12 months.

Download the Restaurant Technology Report to read about 2017 trends and what's new for 2018.

Our Experts’ Takes on 2018 Restaurant Technology 

pos technology

1) Food Delivery Services Will Become a Focus of Discussion  

Aman Narang, President and Co-Founder 

“The market will form a point of view on third-party delivery; there is growth with third-party delivery services. Restaurants support them, but they are very pricey; it's a catch 22. If you do, you miss out on demand, but if you don't, you can lose out. There is friction here.”

brook-stevens-white-background.jpg2) Restaurant Innovation will be the New Norm

Brook Stevens, Director of Engineering

“While the POS will remain the central hub for operations in restaurants, we will see increased demand for innovative products that work together seamlessly as restaurant technology shifts from an early adopter into the early majority segments of the technology adoption lifecycle.”


technology in restaurants

3) Restaurant Mobility to Become More Prevalent

Chris Comparato, CEO 

“I think the mobility of a restaurant itself will pick up momentum, whether in the form of a pop-up restaurant, a small quick storefront served by a commissary (or within corporations), or kiosk-oriented concepts with high-quality grab-and-go food. Healthy, convenient food is what’s in store for 2018.”


cmiller copy.png

4) Customization is Becoming Key

Colleen Miller, Senior Director- Product & UX 

“Today's consumers enjoy customized experiences and personalized recommendations. Restaurants will use data more and more to deliver those experiences, along with proximity marketing methods to drive traffic into the store.”


restaurant apps

5) More Robotic Restaurants?

Steve Fredette, President and Co-Founder

“You’ll see more robot restaurants opening in 2018 than last year. There will be a lot of Alexa food skills; one of the big chains will roll out automated voice ordering at the drive through; Panera will add a button for one-tap ordering to their app, much to my delight and every other user.”


technology trends in restaurant industry

6) Facial Recognition Will Debut in Restaurants

Yi Chen, VP of Product

“Facial recognition technology will help restaurateurs track repeat customers and allow servers to remember guests and to create delightful guest experiences.”


2018 Restaurant Food Predictions

1) Easier Grocery Shopping From Home

Forbes10 Food Trends That Will Shape 2018

“Technofoodology and Artificial Intelligence are the best things to ever happen to a grocery store. Alexa, Google Home, Sonos, and other home-based assistants are ushering in a new way to buy our foods. We can easily replenish our foods by asking Alexa to reorder from Amazon. And just last week, one of the nation’s leading c-stores, Sheetz, announced that its “made to order foods” from all 564 stores can be ordered on Alexa. By 2020, there will be 55 million smart devices in our homes, making that the biggest supermarket chain on the planet."

2) Fine Casual Shows Up to the Party

NRN, 15 Food and Beverage Trends to Expect in 2018

“Fine-casual. Coined by Danny Meyer to describe Shake Shack, AF&Co., says, ‘Think upscale counter-service — and even table service — with curated ingredients and unexpected touches like a wine bar and optional tasting menu.’”

3) Food Sourcing and Labeling Will Matter More

Whole Foods Blog, Whole Foods Market Reveals Top Food Trends for 2018

“Transparency 2.0: More is more when it comes to product labeling. Consumers want to know the real story behind their food, and how that item made its way from the source to the store. GMO transparency is top-of-mind, but shoppers seek out other details, too, such as Fair Trade certification, responsible production and animal welfare standards. At Whole Foods Market, this plays out in several ways, starting with these three happening in 2018: 

  1. In January 2018, all canned tuna in our stores will come from sustainable one-by-one catch methods; 
  2. In September 2018, labels will provide GMO transparency on all food items in stores;
  3. Dishes from Whole Foods Market food bars and venues are now labeled with calorie information.”

Can’t get enough food trends? Eater rounded up what looks like every single 2018 prediction, here.


2018 Restaurant Technology Predictions

Like any industry, advancements in the restaurant world are contingent on the changes the rest of the world has seen. Restaurant kiosks, for example, could not be engineered in their current state until the proper touchscreen technology was invented. 

In that light, we think it's important to highlight general technology trends for the upcoming year so you can know how this may affect your business in the future. 

1) Drones Take Flight, Self-Driving Cars Speed Up

Business Insider35 Big Tech Predictions for 2018

“BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has put together a list of 35 Big Tech Predictions for 2018 across Apps and Platforms, Digital Media, Payments, Internet of Things, E-Commerce, Fintech, and Transportation & Logistics. Some of these major predictions include:

  • Cryptocurrencies will become more widely accepted
  • Google and Apple will challenge Amazon in the smart speaker space
  • The resurgence of the VR market
  • The real self-driving car race will begin
  • Drone regulations will relax
  • Alibaba’s international expansion
  • Gen Z will become a major focal point for media companies and advertisers
  • Payment security will become paramount
  • Smart home devices will take off”

2) Smart Everything? Maybe Not. 

Seeking AlphaTop Tech Predictions For 2018

“Connecting all kinds of devices together using simple internet protocol connectivity standards was supposed to enable smart cities, smart homes, smart factories, heck, pretty much smart everything. And yet, here we stand at the dawn of 2018 and – with a few notable exceptions – very few of those things have really come to pass. In retrospect, it's not really hard to see why. Just connecting things together doesn't necessarily provide any real value, and even tapping into the new data sources enabled by IoT hasn't proven to be as fruitful as many had hoped.”

3) Severless Computing

Network WorldTech Predictions for 2018

Serverless computing takes off. This one is easy to make. It’s bubbling like a cauldron with tremendous interest, and development is racing along. Once people get past the misleading name and realize its benefits, it will take off.”

This article is compliments of Toast.

As always, check out for all your restaurant needs.

2018-01-18 00:00:00
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A Year In Food: Favorite Restaurant Dishes from 2017

best food in 2017

As another year draws to a close, we reflect.

It’s pretty standard to look back on the year that was, and pay homage to the more memorable highs and lows dotting your timeline. Now, be honest: how many of those involve food?

Shift your gaze from behind the lense of your mind’s eye, to your stomach’s.

 2017, among other things, was a year filled with some outrageously awesome eats. As America ushered in a new era of revolutionary change, we likewise witnessed (and tasted) some truly revolutionary creations coming out of restaurant kitchens across the country.

To celebrate the year in all her delicious glory, we’ve polled restaurant staff and diners alike on their favorite dishes from 2017; from staff, their favorite new offering, from diners, their favorite fare eaten.  

Pull up a chair, keep your napkin handy, and get ready to grub; let’s nosh our way through the year in food, and some of the most delectable dishes 2017 had to offer.  

The Winner's Circle

312 Beef & Sausage

best food from 2017

Described as “your neighborhood beef, sausage, and hot dog joint,” 312 Beef & Sausage in Freeport, IL shook up the sausage game in 2017 by beefing up their standard offerings with the inclusion of a rotating new “dog of the week” option.

Co-Owner, Adam Talbert, says two were stand out sales successes:

  • The Mac & Cheese Dog – Bacon-wrapped Vienna dog topped with mac & cheese, toasted breadcrumbs & chopped fresh Chives.
  • The Southern Brunch Dog – Bacon-wrapped Vienna dog topped with fresh-cut hashbrowns, a fried egg, and homemade Italian sausage gravy on a steamed poppy seed bun.

Au Pied de Cochon

A unique dining experience in Quebec, Au Pied de Cochon is a carnivore-foodie’s dream. With two locations, one in the heart of the city, the other in the woods of greater Quebec, Au Pied de Cochon’s rotating menu offerings are small batch, undeniably drool-worthy, and only available to the eyes of diners once they sit down for their meal.

Toast employee Theo Gugiou was lucky enough to have their Foie Gras Lobster Roll. “Amazingly decadent,” he says, “20/10 would eat again”

Orinoco: A Latin Kitchen

Cordero2 (1).jpg

Orinco: A Latin Kitchen is spicing up the Greater Boston Community with their authentic Venezuelan flavors and flair. Boasting an entirely native Venezuelan staff, and a “casual, lively, and fun” atmosphere, they blend old family recipes, classics from the Andes and Caribbean region, and local ingredients to give Boston area diners the tastiest glimpse into life in Venezuela.

Toast employee Lauren Hogge’s world was utterly rocked by their Cordero Tradicional, comprised of pistachio-panela-plaintain crusted New Zealand lamb chops with mint mojo, served with an Arugula/Cabrales cheese salad

“It is

This article is compliments of Toast.

As always, check out for all your restaurant needs.

2018-01-04 00:00:00
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8 Things to Avoid When Managing a Restaurant in 2018

restaurant trends in 2018

The New Year always brings about a sense that things can be better. It’s like you get a mulligan for the last year; a fresh start filled with hope, promise, and ambition.

This article is compliments of Toast.

As always, check out for all your restaurant needs.

2018-01-04 00:00:00
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4 Distinct Restaurant Themes (And What Customers Think of Them)

Deciding on the perfect restaurant theme is no small task. It takes a careful blend of creativity, planning, and insight into the market where you intend to open your business.

There are countless restaurant themes to choose from; whatever you decide to go with will be unique to you, your business, and your clientele.

While diners do cite ambiance as an important element of their dining experience, it’s not everything. Cool lighting fixtures and intricate murals won’t make up for excessive noise, poor service, or low quality food. 

Here are four real examples of restaurants with distinct themes, accompanied by real online reviews of their businesses.

1. Bohemian With An Edge

A bohemian-themed restaurant is a great way to take your guests back in time, or transport them to parts unknown around the world.

Beatnik, located in Chicago, is designed to resemble the Bohemian lifestyle of 1950’s America and Europe. They incorporate exotic music, lush enteriors, and elements of old world elegance to bring guests back to the time of Kerouac and Ginsberg. 

What Their Customers Say

Alka Maheshwari, a Google local guide, writes “A beautiful place in West Town. The decor alone is worth the visit: ornately carved wooden panels to the opulent chandeliers to the checkerboard floor. Multiple small plates and sides on the menu making it easier to order a variety of dishes. All three sections of the establishment have their own charm.” 

Hunter G, another Google local guide, has a different opinion on the vibe.  Accompanying his two star review, he writes, “Horrible hostess staff. Requested a nice table because it was a special event in the reservation. She sat us at a high top in the bar area. Inside is really artsy and the atmosphere is awesome.

What Can We Learn From Beatnik?

Beatnik’s bohemian vibe is counter-culture coolness, but an experience with poor service is always sure to ruin a night out.

2. Locally Sourced

Incorporating your values into your restaurant's theme can be a great way to connect with customers on a deeper level.
The Marshal, in New York City, is a great example of a locally-sourced, sustainability-focused restaurant that has oriented their entire business operations to reflect their values. By emphasizing the importance of locally-sourced ingredients, The Marshal sends a message to customers that they support their community, value local small businesses, and want to protect the health of the environment and their customers. They source all of their menu items from local farmers, local wineries, and local distilleries to reduce carbon emissions when shipping. 

What Their Customers Say

Noah Choi writes, “Quite possibly the best burger I have ever had: smoky flavor, very juicy, and with a bun that was literally oven-fresh.” 

Bob Kirksey, a Google local guide, writes, “Farm to table at its finest. I travel 230 days a year. Good health makes my living. Food quality and tremendous flavor are what I seek.”

Susan Rosenthal, another Google local guide, writes, “A delicious gem of Farm to Table scrumptiousness.”

What Can We Learn From The Marshal?

 Supporting your local community is always a great restaurant theme and business practice. No Farms, No Food, after all. 

3. Keep It Simple

Centering your restaurant theme around one food item is a simple and effective branding tactic. It’s also a great way to generate repeat business with customers who will view you as their “go-to” for that specific product. 

At Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits in Chicago, the name says it all; pies and biscuits are their game.

What Their Customers Say

Matthew Martin, a Google local guide, writes, “The Key Lime was probably the best I’ve ever had!

Another reviewer's experience was a bit of a mixed bag. They write, “Food was good, not great. The biscuits were the best I’ve had at any restaurant period. Servings are terribly undersized, flavor was good.

What Can We Learn From Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits?

Keeping your theme and menu simple can be a successful strategy, but it’s nothing if the quality of your product is so-so. 

4. Vintage Upscale

If you want to incorporate some upscale flair in your restaurant theme, attention to detail is key. 

Invest in some fancy bells and whistles to make your customers feel utterly aristocratic.

El Gaucho and AQUA by El Gaucho, both in Seattle, have a taste for the finer things. In addition to jazz on the piano and top-of-the-line service, this upscale restaurant serves a 28-day dry-aged steak and has a classy tuxedo staff. 

What Their Customers Say

Jeanie writes, “The food and the view were amazing. The service was awful. We were there to celebrate our anniversary and our-less-than-attentive waiter didn’t add to the experience. Maybe they don’t care since their tip is already included in your bill.

Here’s how El Gaucho responded: “Thank you for taking the time to review AQUA, Jeanie. While we are happy to hear you enjoyed the views and food we are terribly sorry to hear that you experienced sub par service. We strive to create an all-around memorable visit and we apologize we were wide of the mark in this regard.

Jonji, another Facebook reviewer, writes, “Not my first rodeo here, and I must say service and food are always top notch!

El Gaucho’s response: “Glad to hear it Jonji. Hope to see you again soon!

What Can We Learn From El Gaucho?

Customer relationship management is essential to the success of your business. Responding to both positive and negative reviews, like El Gaucho does, is an easy way to show existing and potential customers alike and that you value their input, and their business. 

If You Only Take One Thing Away From This Article...

Creating a phenomenal experience for your guests is so much more than just having a really cool restaurant theme. Didn't your mom teach you to never judge a book by its cover?

Your goal should be to have every guest walk away with great memories they’ll cherish and forever associate with your business. 

This article is compliments of Toast.

As always, check out for all your restaurant needs.

2017-12-21 00:00:00
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Recipe: Pumpkin Gnocchi

Here in Minnesota, we’re in that season now where fall is fully upon us and we’re starting to get days that require our Fall Selves to show up. Full force. Wearing sweaters. Swapping iced coffees for hot ones. Raking leaves out of our yards (I have done this zero times).

When my Fall Self shows up to the party, it does not show up empty-handed. It says: I see you, Sweaters. I see you, Hot Coffees. I see you, People Who Rake. And it says: I am going to feed you something yummy.


  • Pumpkin
  • Butter
  • Sage
  • Garlic
  • Parmesan

Pumpkin Gnocchi:

Sage Butter Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons Land O Lakes® Salted Butter in Half Sticks
  • a few sage leaves and a smashed clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup starchy water (leftover from boiling the gnocchi)
  1. Potato Prep: Bake the potato – see notes – and pull off the skin. Let the potato rest for a while to cool down. Once it’s cool enough to handle, grate it until you have about 1 1/2 cups of very fine potato shreds.
  2. Gnocchi Dough: Mix potato shreds with pumpkin puree. Measure flour onto a clean surface and put the potato/pumpkin mixture in the center. Make a well and crack your egg into it. Sprinkle salt on top. Grab a fork and whisk up the egg real quick. Using your hands, mix all ingredients into a dough. Don’t overmix. When it starts to come together, form the dough into a mostly-smooth, rounded little loaf.
  3. Gnocchi Prep: Cut off slices of the mound and roll each one into a long rope. Cut the rope into bite-sized pieces. Place the gnocchi pieces on a plate (make sure they’ve got a little flour coating so they don’t stick).
  4. Cooking the Gnocchi: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the gnocchi, carefully, one at a time, to the water. You may need to work in batches. When the gnocchi rise to the top of the pot of boiling water, immediately remove them with a slotted spoon. Set aside. Melt your butter in a large nonstick skillet. Pan fry the gnocchi, undisturbed, to get one side lightly crispy and leave the other side soft. Remove from pan and set aside to wait for sauce.
  5. Butter Sauce: In the same pan, add butter, sage leaves, and garlic clove. Let the garlic and sage cook for a few minutes over low heat. When the sage leaves are starting to get crispy, remove from heat. Remove garlic as well. When it’s melted, add the flour and whisk. Add the heavy cream and whisk. Add the starchy water slowly, whisking to make a sauce that is the consistency you want. Toss with gnocchi, top with sage leaves and Parmesan, and BE HAPPY AND PROUD BECAUSE LOOK WHAT YOU MADE! Now pour yourself a glass of wine and feast.
2017-12-03 00:00:00
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A Recap: All the Ways Restaurant Technology Has Evolved in 2017

Read the Restaurant Technology in 2017 Industry Report

On October 30, the third annual report unveiled a slew of restaurant technology-centric data points and insights.

What we’re particularly excited about this year is that the report will covered both restaurant and diner perspectives, not just one or the other, as in past years. 

What this means is you can compare your restaurant's business decisions to your competitors' actions and your guest preferences. All of this information is available for free in the 2017 Toast Restaurant Technology Report.

To help hold you over until the launch, here’s a look back at some of the top findings from past reports and what you can expect from this year's release.

Previously, in the Toast Restaurant Tech Report

What's Up With Restaurants? (2015)

It's been two years since we formally checked in with restaurants about their technology. We sought to learn:

  1. What kind of technology restaurants use
  2. What kind of technology restaurants will invest in
  3. How often restaurants examined sales and important data

In our  2015 Restaurant Technology Report, we discovered the following statistics:

Upgrading Restaurant Technology

The report, launched in October of 2015, revealed that 73 percent of restaurants planned to upgrade their technology within one year of taking the survey. This includes management software and point of sale (POS) systems. 52 percent of restaurateurs said "advanced functionality" and "ease of use" were their top reasons for replacing their existing method or software

Back in 2015, the top features restaurateurs looked for in a POS upgrade were: inventory management (20 percent), online ordering (13 percent) and PCI compliance (9 percent).

Sales and Reporting

Two years ago, it was found that just 46 percent of restaurateurs looked at their business reports and sales metrics every day, meaning less than a half of restaurateurs are actively looking at their important numbers on a daily basis. 

What Do Customers Want? (2016)

Last year, we flipped the script and asked restaurant-goers how technology shaped their dining experience for the 2016 Restaurant Technology Report

In the age of readily-available, user-friendly technology, diners' opinions on restaurant technology were largely positive. 

Technology for Diners

Online ordering, mobile tablets, credit cards, loyalty software...I could go on and on. Sometimes it seems like there's too much technology. 

However, your guests would likely disagree with you. In 2016, four out of five diners (79 percent) diners agreed that restaurant technology improves their guest experience.   

Online and Mobile Ordering

Diners also appreciate the benefits and efficiency of mobile devices in the restaurant experience. 

Last year, it was found that 57 percent of diners ordered from a restaurant's website online daily, weekly, or monthly, while 68 percent agreed that server handheld tablets improve their guest experience.

Furthermore, diners appreciated ordering from web-based devices and when their servers use them, but they weren't too enthusiastic about mobile pay. More than half never paid with mobile payments such as Apple Pay, Level Up, or Samsung Pay. 

Have any of these numbers shifted? You'll have to read this year's Tech Report to see for yourself.

Exclusive Findings: Restaurant Technology in 2017

Looking for newer information? You can read some of the highlights below or download the full report here

Here's the key takeaway: restaurant technology not only improves the restaurant experience, but it also shows trends around the industry embracing restaurant technology more than ever.

Rising in Popularity: Server Handheld Tablets

This recent article in Eater shares how tools like tabletop tablets help improve the customer experience so much that servers see increased tips with tablets:

In fact, tips have stayed steady or even increased, thanks to the ease of tipping via tablet: Diners can typically tap just one button to automatically apply a tip of the industry standard 20 percent, which is easier than manually entering a smaller tip. Tips are likely also higher thanks to diners’ increased satisfaction with service — e.g., their ability to pay their check rather than having to wait around for the tab.”

Dropping in Popularity: Cash Payments 

We’re also seeing growing trends in cash versus credit preferences.

Despite quite a few recent, very public hacks, cash isn’t still necessarily king anymore. Don’t agree? This helpful article from The Motley Fool lays out an argument for why consumers do (or should) use credit over cash, hinting at an emergence of cashless restaurants.

In stark contrast to previous years, a large number of diners use mobile pay now more than ever.

It makes sense, too. While mobile pay is steadily increasing in popularity in the U.S., it is virtually the only way to pay in other parts of the world. Evelyn Cheng, reporter for CNBC, recently said, “mobile pay is growing so rapidly in mainland China that as a foreigner, I sometimes found it difficult to complete basic transactions without it.”

Also on the rise? Online reservations, online ordering, and the demand for guest wi-fi.

As always, check out for all your restaurant needs.

2017-11-21 00:00:00
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Christmas in Restaurants: Running Joyful Restaurant Promotions


During this special time of year, everyone gets together and celebrates the abundance of deals and promotions happening.

If your restaurant wants to stand out this holiday season, you'll need to know how to run an effective restaurant promotion to bring in and satisfy customers.

No matter what the celebration is, every holiday is a crucial opportunity for restaurants to temporarily change things up in the business, which could result in:

The holidays are about giving and receiving - so we suggest the following: give and you will receive!  

Here are some areas where you can create restaurant promotions for the holidays.

And if you really want to stand out during holidays all year, download Toast's Holiday Handbook!

Restaurant Promotion Idea #1: Gift Cards

There are many reasons for restaurants to offer gift cards. Let's start with the clincher - some restaurant types see a 191% spending increase on average when a guest pays with a gift card.

Some of the other perks of offering gifts cards include:

  • Guaranteed money: Whether that gift card is redeemed or not, you officially make that sale.
  • Reaching new customers: If one of your regulars buys a gift card for their friend, that's (hopefully) a new face you'll see in your restaurant and can continue to delight again and again. 
  • A higher payday: 45% of guests spend more than the gift card value when using gift cards, according to Toast's 2016 Restaurant Gift Card Study.

So how does this coincide with the holidays?

About half of all restaurant gift card sales take place during the month of December - that's around 50% of all gift card sales taking place over the course of 8.3% of the year!

Cash in on this gift card craze by offering special promotions for gift card purchase during the month of December. Let's take a look at what Blaze Pizza is doing this year. 

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Blaze is offering a great incentive for buying a gift card. With a $25 gift card purchase, guests will get a free pizza pass. This is a smart idea for a few reasons.

  1. Some of Blaze's customers (like me) would consider buying $25 in gift cards just to get the free pizza pass, then keep all the funds for themselves and use it over time. After all, I'm not stopping my Blaze visits anytimes soon. This is guaranteed revenue for Blaze.
  2. Blaze's advocates can buy the card for a present to someone who has yet to try their pizza, then pocket the free pass for themselves. 
  3. People buy gift cards during the holidays. With an incentive, Blaze is making sure people buy gift cards from them.
  4. Someone buying for a Blaze-lover but who has maybe not tried Blaze can gift the $25 card and use the pass to finally try it for themselves. This is for a small customer acquisition cost of one pizza, which Blaze can easily earn back after winning the customer over with their delicious pizza and stellar customer service.

Another nice touch to this promotion is the expiration date - the coupon is valid only for two months. Gift cards can't expire, but free passes can. This adds some immediacy to get to Blaze while the coupon is valid.

Now that's a smart restaurant promotion. 

Restaurant Promotion Idea #2: Loyalty Program Engagement

Who doesn't love restaurant loyalty programs?

If you don't, you should.

Loyalty programs are so popular because they not only reward loyalty - they create it. Thus, they result in more spending from your guests.

They also generate invaluable customer data to help you discover the buying behavior of your guests. Toast Marketer Allie Tetreault supports this idea, saying in a recent FitSmallBusiness article that loyalty programs are a great way to leverage your email list during the holiday season.

For this holiday restaurant promotion idea, offer an incentive to those who come into your restaurant and are not members of your loyalty program. Offer a promotion for the holidays - everyone who joins your restaurant loyalty program during the month of December gets a free soft drink or dessert. If your loyalty program lets you pre-load points onto an account, it's also a good incentive to increase sign ups if you can offer bonus points for signing up in December. 

But let's get back to the question of why a loyalty program is worth it for your restaurant.

With a loyalty program, an individual's spending amount can increase by 39% and visitation frequency can increase by 75%. For the marginal discount or freebie that you occasionally give out, that seems completely worth it.

Not to mention, if we're talking about a digital loyalty program based off a record of customer information, you have customer contact information and buying patterns right at your fingertips.

Using the holidays to reel in more members to your customer loyalty program is a smart and easy restaurant promotion idea will benefit your restaurant all year.

Restaurant Promotion Idea #3: Social Media

Social media for restaurants - it's a puzzle, but when you put that puzzle together, it's a beautiful thing. Especially around the holidays.

No matter what holiday promotion your restaurant is running this year - make your social media followers aware. This is a free way to explain the promotion and get some shares on the topic. 

You can also use social media during any holidays to...

  • Run contests for your followers (and get more followers) by giving away gift cards or coupons for free food.
  • Show pictures of your limited-time holiday menu or menu items (Shrieking Spaghetti for Halloween, Peppermint Pastries for Christmas, etc.).
  • Announce your holiday hours so everyone knows when you will and will not be open.
  • Remind your followers to make a reservation for this busy time of year.

This article is compliments of Toast.

As always, check out for all your restaurant needs.

2017-11-11 00:00:00
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