October 10, 2023
Devn Ratz

Digitally Redefined: 5 Types of Restaurants Seeing Digital Transformation

If you can imagine, restaurants—as a category—were once the kind to resist change, slow technology adoption, and defy trends. Those types of restaurants, which fell apart during the pandemic, may no longer hold much weight in the world. 

As digital transformation continues to define (and redefine) all types of restaurants, many continue adopting new food technology to stay afloat, ahead, and advancing. As an example, the café has steadily embraced in-app online ordering. Beyond this, though, so many restaurants have turned to mobile payments and delivery services to expand their reach, stay competitive, and adapt to changing consumer attitudes about food, sustainable restaurants, and safety. 

In other establishments, like the fast food chain and QSR, there’s more rapid development as geofencing, contactless hospitality, and more mobile technology continues to push the boundaries of online ordering, data for restaurants, and personalization standards.

Overall, trends show that digital adoption steadily serves the customer experience and increases operational efficiency. Glimpse the future of restaurant digitization, and see where growth truly waits for your enterprise brand.

Key Takeaway: Digital transformation across types of restaurants varies, but profitability follows adoption of the latest food science and technology.
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1. Cafés & Digital Innovation

While some restaurants have faltered as the demand to innovate for customers faces the digital incline, many cafés accepted the challenge in stride. 

Already, reports show that around half of all coffee-centered businesses have invested in consumer tech. These include online ordering solutions, in-app services, mobile payments, and integration with delivery providers. Moreover, the industry continues to shift.

More often, the most-streamlined café operates through fine-tuned efficiency. This is often propelled by back-of-house integrations that add streamlined efficiency across the systems that form its backbone. 

In line with these, many of them take full advantage of automations and AI for restaurants in the process of digital transformation. 

For the café—hard-hit by past COVID strictures—acceleration is welcomed. And, the outlook of more fiscal stability through tech solutions and their flexibility is promised.

2. Quick Service Restaurant Tech

For other types of restaurants, like the QSR model, rapid change excites executives, managers, and service staff at all levels.

This type of restaurant takes on many of the technologies seen in the cafe, but more often adds the twist of geofencing, contactless, and marketing automation. Even robotic chefs are increasingly welcomed for their effect on order accuracy and speedy order fulfillment as online ordering increasingly takes priority.

Some of the more fringe developments include drone delivery, itself reshaping how leaders think about the future of restaurant tech.  

3. Fine Dining & The Digital Age

Categorically, the fine dining establishment is a type of restaurant usually slow to adapt. Rather, these types of restaurants are defined by their traditions, their standards, and resistance to fad flavors. 

Nevertheless, not one restaurant was spared an impact by the restriction of the COVID-19 pandemic. In that light, a wake-up call was issued to every restaurant in the industry—fine dining among them. As such, more fine dining chains have brought in touchless services and self-service ordering

While many efforts in digital transformation exist “behind the table” and in the cloud, there’s a clear vein of change for fine dining. They, like so many others, are heeding the need for more safety, sustainability in restaurants, lower food waste, and (as always) seamless experiences of personalization.

4. Casual Restaurant Digitization

Online ordering is one of the more apparent adoptions that casual restaurants have chosen to embrace. The benefits—chain by chain, group by group—are plain to all:

While restrictions during the pandemic accelerated a change in attitude for all—there are many more digital transformations than might meet the eye.

For instance, the casual restaurant has seen old challenges in a new light. They seek more supply chain visibility across locations and start to prepare for the effects waiting to emerge from modern data science.

Likewise, they are one of the first categories to seek technological integration. Integration aids order tracing, business intelligence, and staff optimization. It also helps this type of restaurant stay more competitive within self-service, ordering, and in-house dining options. 

5. Fast Food Transformation

By far, fast food chains are the fastest to adopt new technologies and see the benefits hidden in innovation. Sometimes, as with all experimentation, this leads them to learn valuable lessons. 

Nevertheless, they also get the advantage of being first to serve up the experiences customers wish for. As a consequence, most fast food chains already sport plenty of advantages through mobile applications, plentiful online ordering integrations across channels, and technology that makes every bite more personalized. 

All of them explore digital solutions to make their food faster, more attractive, and easier to sell. Among the most profitable types of restaurants, fast food is typically the first to adapt to shifts in customer attitudes—most likely because they have the restaurant intelligence to smartly bet on them.

Despite all their digital advancement, they appear more grounded in the world’s concerns than ever—and not accidentally! More customers demand responsible sourcing, meatless variety, and healthy alternatives than ever. 

Through partnerships with big names like Beyond Meat while offering alternatives galore, fast food chains have been more than happy to advertise themselves as viable solutions.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Common Types of Restaurants

Find the answers to burning questions in the minds of restaurateurs, executives, and startup dreamers alike. Get the details for some of the more common questions about types of restaurants, their profitability, and how to classify your restaurant concept.

What are the types of restaurants?

There are as many types of restaurants as you might be able to imagine, especially since something new is dreamt up and launched every day. 

Useful categories for types of restaurants remain:

  • Fast food chains
  • Casual restaurants
  • Fast casual or QSR (Quick Service Restaurants)
  • Fine dining establishments
  • Coffee shops, bakeries, and cafés

What is the most common type of restaurant?

A trending and common type of restaurant takes the name “fast casual.” These are also types of restaurants that see rapid growth, especially within the US market. This may lie in the balance they offer between speed and quality, offering high-quality ingredients without asking customers to wait around. 

The fast casual restaurant often appears as healthy alternatives to fast food without much difference in pricing. It’s no wonder that the quick calculations of hungry customers in America so frequently land on these spots. They draw their revenue from consistency, accuracy, and satisfaction.

What are the most profitable types of restaurants?

While fast casual restaurants may be slightly more expensive, with slightly better standards for ingredients and order preparation, it’s difficult to beat the profitability of the fast food chain. 

The fast food restaurant is best known for rapid service. It stands to reason that it would be the most profitable type of restaurant: it makes a solid living on serving the most meals it can within the span of an hour—or minute, in some establishments. 

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