A quality off-premises restaurant experience is no longer just about food arriving on time and fries not being soggy. According to restaurant tech company Toast’s latest report, attention to cleanliness and safety is one of the top three concerns for restaurant guests for both delivery and takeout orders.
The Toast report, which The Spoon received a copy of, surveyed over 700 restaurant guests around how their expectations have changed as a result of the pandemic and what they consider to be an ideal restaurant experience today.
Almost half, or 48 percent, of guests surveyed placed cleanliness/safety as the top third concern for delivery orders, behind quality of food and ease of ordering. Another 40 percent placed it as the second main concern for takeout orders.
Seeing as we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, it makes sense that safety has wound its way to the top of the list for restaurant consumers. (As a category, cleanliness and safety were much lower on the list of concerns when Toast published a similar guest survey in January.) But Toast’s report also found that guests are ordering takeout more frequently than delivery.
From the report:
“7% of guests reported ordering takeout through a third- party app multiple times a day. 9% of guests reported ordering takeout through a restaurant’s app or website once a day. 16% of guests reported ordering takeout through a restaurant’s app or website multiple times a week. And 20% of guests reported ordering takeout through a restaurant’s app or website once a week.”
Cost, of course, remains a big issue with third-party delivery apps. That’s especially true now, with many restaurants trying to offset the high commission fees these services charge by raising delivery prices. But given the pandemic we are in, safety is obviously a growing concern.
One reason takeout might be more popular right now than delivery is that food goes through more touchpoints when someone drops it at your house, since the meal has to be collected by a driver. Issues around delivery drivers tampering with food abounded even before the pandemic. In response, some chains now offer tamper-free packaging. But even setting that aside for a minute, customers still have to worry about the cleanliness of the driver’s vehicle, whether or not that person is sick, and if they are wearing protective gear. Toast noted in its report that, at least for now, customers “might prefer the level of control over cleanliness and safety they get when picking food orders up themselves.”
Toast recommends that restaurants communicate frequently and clearly with customers about steps they are taking to keep their businesses safe. However, it can be tough to guarantee safety if the food is leaving their hands and going to the customer via a third-party delivery service. There’s no quick fix for that, unfortunately, since most restaurants can’t afford to keep their own delivery fleet. For now, restaurants should continue prioritizing cleanliness on takeout orders and hope their third-party delivery counterparts are doing the same.