How Customers are Responding to Off-Premise Dining Options

Enter the word “restaurant” into Google, and you’ll receive an endless list of headlines touting some variation of how COVID-19 has impacted the industry. Many stories focus on the shift from on-premise to off-premise service models that spread through the industry upon the first quarantines, restrictions, and closings necessitated by the pandemic.

Off-premise options have thrown a fragile lifeline to a restaurant industry struggling to navigate the rough waters of the COVID-19 pandemic. But how has the public responded to this fundamental change in the dining experience? Here’s a brief analysis.


Survey results from the National Restaurant Association (NRA) show that off-premise transactions now make up nearly 60% of foodservice occasions. This is not a surprising statistic, considering the atmosphere in which the industry currently operates. 

Hudson Riehle, the NRA’s senior vice president for research and knowledge says, “We are seeing the industry change and adapt faster than ever before in response to the macro-environmental factors driving consumer behavior.”

The NRA survey found that customers were most receptive to technologies like frictionless mobile ordering, order accuracy tracking, and drive-thru enhancements. Key areas of growth include:

  • 92% of consumers used drive-thru at least once a month.
  • 34% of consumers used delivery more often than a year ago.
  • 79% of consumers used restaurant delivery at least once a month, and 53% of consumers used a third-party delivery provider.

Those percentages were highest among 18- to 34-year-olds.

In their July 17th report, Black Box Intelligence declared cleanliness to be “the new ambiance,” as net customer sentiment toward cleanliness rose nearly 20 points in the period between April and June 2020. This trend continues upward in their most recent report. Guests’ focus on sanitation and safety has become much more pronounced in recent months. 

It makes sense, then, that a customer base focused on cleanliness and the avoidance of undue exposure during the pandemic would gravitate toward the off-premise experience in higher numbers.

Touchless payment

Much like delivery and takeout, the concept of touchless payment is another already emerging technology that has exploded as a result of COVID-19. The data shows that guests prefer these payment methods due to their inherent safety. In many cases, guests are actually spending more when presented with contactless payment options. By eliminating the process of handing over cash or a credit card, contactless payments make the purchasing process as painless as possible. The result is an increase in overall guest spend. 

According to a study in the International Journal of Economic Studies, “contactless credit card adopters undertake around 9 credit card payments more at the POS within a month than non-adopters (17 vs. 8 transactions) with approximately 5 and 4 transactions more for retail goods and services, respectively (10 vs. 5 and 7 vs. 3 payments).”


While these numbers are certainly real, and indications would seem to be that consumers will continue to steer more of their business in the off-premise direction even after the dining rooms have reopened, it’s also true that many of us will be thrilled at the prospect of dining out again. What do these off-premise trends tell us, then, about how on-premise dining will go once the time has come?

Regardless of the advent of widely available vaccines and the resulting leveling of COVID numbers in the coming year, consumers are not going to be likely to simply drop their guard when it comes to restaurant sanitation and their preference for contactless delivery options and touchless payments. The same factors that have led to the current focus on off-premise dining will also dictate customer expectations about on-premise dining in the future.

Contactless solutions like those from OneDine can help meet these new expectations, both on- and off-premise. OneDine solutions can streamline dining room, curbside pickup, and takeout capabilities to efficiently and quickly serve customers with a leaner workforce and in a way that keeps everyone safer.

Using these solutions, guests can order without waiting for wait staff to get to them. They can easily pay, split the check, or pay per item and close out the dining experience on their own time

The OneDine platform can even use customer-centered profiles and purchasing histories to offer personalized offerings and menu suggestions tailored to each individual patron.

Yes, it’s true that off-premise dining is currently king, and for good reason, but when the pandemic has ended and we’re all free to venture out more freely, service models will no doubt shift once again. 

With OneDine, you can be ready whichever way the wind blows.