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New Restaurant Technology Trends for Summer 2021

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2020 ushered in a new wave of restaurant technology. Here’s a look at the restaurant technology trends we think are going to stick around.

This year, restaurant operators’ willingness to test different ways of doing business has been a true testament to this industry’s resilience. While some of these tests failed to provide the boost restaurateurs hoped for, others were more successful than they could have imagined and helped restaurants continue bringing in revenue despite the ever-changing web of COVID-related dining restrictions. 

As COVID cases decrease in the US and summer approaches, restaurateurs are wondering: which restaurant tech innovations will outlast their short-term purpose and stay relevant in a post-COVID world? 

Here’s a look at the restaurant technology trends we think are most likely to continue delighting both restaurateurs and their guests.

Order & Pay at the Table (OPT) Technology

QR codes are back in the spotlight with Order & Pay at the Table technology. As the name suggests, this restaurant technology allows guests to view the menu, place their order, and pay for their meal directly from their phone whenever they’re ready. It also provides restaurateurs with an opportunity to increase profits: it has led to a 12% increase in average ticket sizes, according to Toast data, and can help you weather the labor shortage by providing a way to run your restaurant with fewer better-paid staff.  

Customers are raring to get back into restaurant seats, and will love to keep connecting with your servers, getting wine and food recommendations and feeling taken care of. But they won’t miss having to wait to order their first drinks, and they’ll be delighted by the ability to pay on their phone and leave as soon as they’re ready.

Toast Order & Pay™
Give guests the experience they're looking for with mobile order & pay - easy access to what they want, when they want it, from their own device.

Handheld POS Systems for Patios

Handheld POS systems were picking up steam even before COVID reared its ugly head, but with COVID-fueled tech upgrades like contactless payments built in to the next generation of handhelds, this new restaurant technology is poised to become a cornerstone of patio dining for the foreseeable future. 

If you’re a guest, you benefit from faster, safer service. If you’re a server, you benefit from a durable yet sleek POS powerhouse that fits in your apron without weighing you down — and one that can get you bigger tips. If you’re a restaurant owner, you’re turning tables faster and bringing in more revenue. It’s win-win-win, so why wouldn’t this technology stick around?

Toast Go® 2
The Next Generation of Handheld POS

Self-Serve Beer Taps

Many restaurateurs are also exploring self-serve beer taps so they can run their businesses more efficiently with less staff while also boosting alcohol sales. However, there are some lesser-known recognized benefits to self-serve beer taps like reducing inventory waste and creating more usable space in the restaurant. While some operators are hesitant to add yet another piece of technology to their stack, partners like PourMyBeer or IPourIt are part of Toast’s partner ecosystem so the addition of their tech is seamless and can be fully integrated into the restaurant’s existing POS solution.

Restaurant Employee Early Wage Access

Retaining employees has always been tough for restaurateurs, and this challenge has only increased in 2020 and beyond. Having said that, early wage access technology allows restaurateurs to offer their employees more financial flexibility by paying them after every shift, and they can help reduce overhead. Another win-win!  

POS-Integrated Online Ordering (No More Tablet Farms)

No restaurant owner wants their dining room’s vibe to be muddled by a hard-to-hide wall of tablets ringing or buzzing while taking online orders from a number of different online ordering platforms. Nor do they want their staff to waste their time sorting through the orders and getting them to the kitchen in an organized fashion. 

So while POS-Integrated Online Ordering may not be the most futuristic-sounding restaurant tech trend of the summer, we do think it’ll be one of the most appreciated by those restaurateurs who want a truly integrated all-in-one POS experience that improves communication to the kitchen and allows all staff to focus on the guest experience.

Toast Online Ordering
Learn how a better online ordering system can help you save time and grow revenue.

Restaurant Tech Trends for Summer 2021 and Beyond

Overall, whether you’re a restaurateur, a chef, a GM, a server, or simply a self-proclaimed food lover, there are a lot of exciting restaurant tech trends to look forward to this summer. However, some trends will last beyond an initial buzz, and provide truly meaningful, long-lasting solutions to the pain points that exist in the restaurant industry today.