Casual Dining Jumps on Online Ordering Bandwagon

As online ordering grows in popularity, especially with the millennial generation, we are seeing more brands develop ordering apps or easy to use ordering platforms on restaurant websites.

The segments that were on the forefront of the online-ordering trend were QSR and fast casual. Establishments in these segments are often known for quick speed-of-service and convenience. These factors, in particular, heavily influence a guests’ decision to visit these restaurants.

Online ordering and delivery lends itself to QSR and fast causal, segment where take-out is common.

According to data from the National Restaurant Association (NRA,) one-third of consumers claim take-out is an essential part of their lifestyle.

“In addition, nearly half (46 percent) of adults – and 61 percent of millennials – say an important factor in choosing a table-service restaurant is the availability of takeout or delivery options,” writes the NRA.

However, casual dining establishments (and fine-dining) don’t get nearly as much take-out business as the less casual segments. This is partially because guests decide to dine in at these establishments because they offer an elevated experience with more service. The higher quality food product and a more personal service appeals to diners and this is why they often choose to dine at casual dining restaurants.

Not only have guests started to expect that restaurants offer online-ordering, but it’s a way for these brands to compete with the high-quality fast casual chains that have been stealing away their customers.

Why Users Love Online-Ordering

Today’s on-the-go customer often has a limited timeframe to grab and eat meals. Online-ordering is not only convenient, but it’s quick. Users can take just a few minutes to order their meal. They are able to make sure their order is correct, while also selecting the exact time they want to pick-up their order or for when it to be delivered.

Again for the operator or brand, online-ordering is way for restaurants to foster more take-out business.

With that being said, it’s no wonder that almost every week this year a new casual dining brand announces its introduction of online-ordering.

Here are some of the casual dining chains that are leveraging online-ordering to increase take-out orders.

Red Robin

The burger-focused chain Red Robin partnered with Olo, a provider of online and mobile ordering platforms, earlier this year to launch its digital ordering platform.

Red Robin

Red Robin

Olo’s technology has been seamlessly integrated on Red Robin’s website, where guests can now place orders ahead-of-time and pre-pay for their pick-up order. Like most ordering platforms, the brands loyalty program has also been integrated. Users can also save “Favorites” and can even start a group order, where others can be emailed or given a unique link to join the order. This function helps to foster large take-out orders from offices.

“We are proud to partner with Red Robin, a brand that is committed to enhancing the overall guest experience, and we believe this digital ordering rollout is a powerful development in the beloved gourmet burger chain’s drive to best serve its guests.” said Noah Glass, founder & CEO of Olo in a press release. “We look forward to providing Red Robin’s loyal guests with the convenience of pay ahead online ordering and restaurant pickup at its restaurants nationwide.”

The brand timed the launch of the online ordering platform with National Burger Month, which was in May.

“Burgers are highly searched online and through our partnership with Olo, Red Robin can expand our Gourmet Burger Authority by satisfying the tastes, wants and needs of guests across the country at their convenience,” said Jason Rusk, vice president alternate platforms in a press release.


The diner chain known for it’s all-day and all-night breakfast rolled out 24/7 online-ordering earlier in June. Now guests can get take-out or delivery at anytime, however the delivery may not be available depending on the time.



“Denny’s has always been a place where America can come and get their favorite breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes, literally at any time of day or night,” said John Dillon, chief marketing officer for Denny’s in a press release. “With ‘Denny’s on Demand,’ we’ve taken that same ‘always open’ philosophy that is synonymous with our brand and expanded it to easy-to-use technology, bringing access to our craveable diner fare straight to our guests’ fingertips.”

Like Red Robin, Denny’s chose to partnered with Olo to do a complete revamp of the brand’s mobile app to include online-ordering.

Simailar to many of the QSR brands, Denny’s also is introducing online-ordering in social media platforms.

“The diner will be one of the first to utilize a new online ordering functionality through Twitter, introducing an interactive way for users to select and order their favorite dish all from within a Direct Message. In the coming weeks, fans of Denny’s on Facebook will also be able to engage and place an order with the diner directly, any time of day or night, via a branded Chatbot and other on-page options. Fans will also be able to share their ‘Denny’s on Demand’ experiences through a variety of new and unique Snapchat filters,” according to a press release.

California Pizza Kitchen

Screenshot of CPK Pizza Dough® Rewards Mobile App |  California Pizza Kitchen

Screenshot of CPK Pizza Dough® Rewards Mobile App | California Pizza Kitchen

Back in February of this year, this casual dining chain launched the CPK Pizza Dough® Rewards Mobile App for both iOS and Android. Through the app, guests can order and pay for their meals, while also earning and redeeming rewards and much more.

“We’re extremely proud of our enhanced CPK Pizza Dough Rewards app, which we believe will set the bar for the consumer mobile experience in polished casual dining,” said Ashley Ceraolo, senior vice president of marketing and beverage at California Pizza Kitchen in a press release. “Our guests are looking for an elevated dining experience that offers flexibility to meet their needs, whether enjoying the full dine-in experience, a quick, efficient visit on their time-challenged days or an excellent takeout experience on the go."

Each of these casual dining giants have launched online ordering this year, while also spending a ton of marketing dollars to promote these platforms. However, time will only tell if online-ordering does truly lend itself to casual dining.