5 Restaurant Apps I Couldn’t Live Without

There are so many great restaurant apps popping up within the fast casual space, and it’s about time! Not all apps are created equal, and the day is gone where I will wait in line or ever haul around receipts, physical cards, or key fobs to accrue loyalty. I prioritize one-touch, easy-to-use apps with solid loyalty and order ahead functionality. Here are the 5 apps that I love and the reasons why they have secured permanent real estate (and precious memory) on my iPhone:

Hale and Hearty

Before stumbling upon Hale and Hearty, I only ate soup when I was sick. Somehow, they figured out how to win me over with their gourmet soups (their Broken Lasagna soup is just an absolute game-changer) and rotational menu. Not only that, they hit a grand slam with their app and customer engagement experience.

Hale and Hearty always runs creative and simple promotions, like their “Souper Bowl” campaign. Customers were offered a reward for choosing the team they predicted would win the Superbowl. I ended up visiting around 4 times that week alone.

Their native ordering experience is exactly what brands should strive for. It’s clean, simple, contains allergen and nutrition information (must-haves) and has a quick, intuitive flow. Of all of the apps I use, this one is the fastest to order with. When you arrive at a Hale and Hearty location, it’s immediately clear where you go to pick up your order (shout out to Melvyn at Franklin Street). If you are in their rewards program, this app is an obvious top 5.

sweetgreen

This one shouldn’t come as a shock when a millennial female in Boston names her top 5 restaurant apps, considering a  third of sweetgreen’s transactions flow through their app. sweetgreen has nailed the use of pop culture in their marketing, has tech-forward in-store setups, and energetic customer-centric staff.

Mix in the fact that all menu items are made with fresh locally sourced ingredients, and they’ve got a lightning fast support team…I could really go on for days. sweetgreen has it figured out and they deserve the loyal following they have amassed.

Their rewards program is simple and their app experience is dynamite. They capitalize on their customer feedback and app data, and they do more than just digest and guess. Every piece of marketing is their own — it’s both appealing and relevant.

The imagery they use on their home screen looks absolutely delicious. Ordering ahead is visually simple and their drag and drop customization option is interactive and easy to use. I can share my dietary restrictions (hold the peanuts and tree nuts, please) and they show me in red what salads I should avoid. I can also select a ready time which is key for anyone on a budgeted calendar. My only con would be that order ahead times fill up quickly. But hey, that means I make my buying decision around 10am everyday, forcing them to the top of my mind when the morning hunger sets in. Coincidence or not?

Starbucks

When most people think of a leader in the app space, Starbucks is one of the first that comes to people’s minds. This one really speaks for itself.

Stand-out features include their sharp animation, easy to search menu, and predictive location finder. They have the best favorites screen and customization is endless. One thing I would change about this app is the fact that I have to reload funds instead of paying as I go. The reload adds a few steps to my transaction process and slows ordering down.

However, they make up for it with their beautiful in-app gift card animation, digitally translating the design of the gift card right into the app. They also do a fantastic job thinking beyond their app to engage customers, which is something every restaurant needs to be doing to keep up with their customers.

Caffè Nero

Caffè Nero is the newest app among my top 5 list (so kudos)! Their app does something better than everyone I’ve mentioned – which is in-app storytelling. They’ve managed to cultivate a design that is warm and inviting but cool and relaxed at the same time (is that possible? apparently).

Their menu tab elegantly paints their decadent culture, family-run feel, brand history and core values which ultimately helps customers connect and attach 1 to 1 with them. Additionally, they decided to go with a digital in-app punch card that provides a refreshing spin on the old school coffee punch card.

They also do a great job promoting their app in-store which is an operational necessity with any new app launch. Their store-to-app branding, trendy ambiance and phenomenal Vanilla Latte make this an experience that I’m motivated to return to.

Chipotle

Chipotle has mastered the art of simplicity within their ordering app. Their in-app allergen menu is one of the best and their nutritional information is detailed and easy to navigate. They have clearly designed an app with their order ahead customer in mind which is a key element some brands miss.

Instant transactions are also a must which Chipotle figured out. Their map integration is clean and easy to use and their in-app food visuals are zesty, consistent and enticing. I wish rewards were linked into the app but I’m sure digital loyalty is on their roadmap. Either way, this app’s ease of use, order ahead construct and clean functionality make it a top 5. Not to mention, their guac is the freshest on the block.

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Kathleen Attenhofer

Kathleen Attenhofer

Kathleen leads the inside sales team at LevelUp. She joined LevelUp in 2015 and has a background in sales, retail and visual merchandising. When she’s not with the BDR team, you can find her spending time with her dog, a 1 year old toller named Teddy #adoptdontshop, instructing barre or exploring New England. Most days she skips the line at Hale and Hearty or sweetgreen.