Digital Restaurants: What Tech Will Help Restaurants Moving Forward?

July 28, 2023
Barbara Castiglia


Digital Restaurants aren’t literally digital. Technology hasn’t evolved to the point where digital food is a thing. And if it were a thing, are people ready to eat it? Probably not.

But whether it’s a QSR with online ordering apps, a popular sit-down restaurant chain using online ordering and delivery, or even the favorite local establishment utilizing tabletop QR codes to display menus and integrated POS systems, digital restaurants are enmeshed into the fabric of the restaurant industry.

During the pandemic, digital transformation saved the restaurant industry, and customers liked the innovations. The seamless online ordering experiences customers used to get restaurant food during the pandemic continued long after restaurants were able to re-open their doors. And with staffing a continued issue for restaurants, technology innovations from ordering to back-of-the-house operations solutions are making a difference in keeping customers satisfied with less help.

For restaurants, navigating those digital waters can take time and effort. There is so much technology available. What software to get? What’s the best digital strategy to handle the needs and be an effective and efficient digital restaurant?

Barbara Castiglia, the host of The Main Course podcast, reached out to someone in the restaurant industry helping digital restaurants with all these issues and challenges to ensure they know what technology will best propel them forward. Joe Reinstein, The Executive Director of the Digital Restaurant Association, said any restaurant relying on digital technology to operate its restaurant is considered a digital restaurant.

“It could be online ordering for take-out and delivery, working with third-party delivery services, but it also could just be in managing their inventory, their food, their operation, their staffing, banking; all aspects of the restaurant business are digital these days,” Reinstein said.

Castiglia and Reinstein also discussed the following during the episode:

  1. How the pandemic affected the digital transformation of restaurants
  2. How the Digital Restaurant Association helps restaurants with their digital technology needs and challenges
  3. What customers want from restaurants in terms of digital technology and services

“The customers want convenience,” Reinstein said. “There’s no question; they want to be able to get the food they want when they want it, where they want it, how they want it. And they’re willing to pay for that convenience. That is wonderful. The third-party delivery services have been fantastic for the restaurant industry, saving the industry during the pandemic and even now.”

Joe Reinstein works at the intersection of digital media, technology, and public policy. He helps restaurants move from digital disruption to digital transformation. Reinstein is a transformational marketing professional, brand builder, and growth architect with the vision and leadership necessary to steer the DRA (Digital Restaurant Association) to generate awareness, increase membership, launch strategic partnerships, and provide educational resources and technology solutions for DRA restaurant members. He helps restaurant owners increase online revenue, improve performance, and streamline operations. Reinstein received his BA in government, economics, and art history from Oberlin College.

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