Delivery and takeout have been steadily trending upward, but the pandemic has greatly accelerated their ascent. With mandated restaurant closures and shelter-at-home orders, these off-premise channels have been the only option—other than cooking at home.
In July, Technomic’s Delivery & Takeout Consumer Trend Report published results of a pre- and post-COVID poll. About 40% of consumers reported ordering takeout or delivery more often after the pandemic hit the U.S. Lack of dine-in service and a desire to support restaurants were the main drivers for the increase.
But not all operators were ready for the surge. Although the pandemic forced chains to streamline their menus, adapt dishes to off-premise and upgrade packaging, delivery customers say some are doing a better job than others.
According to Technomic Ignite consumer data, these are the brands that rate the highest in terms of food quality, taste and visual appeal. (Figures represent the percentage of respondents who gave these chains high marks for delivery compared to other channels.)
Firehouse Subs: 78% of consumers cited Firehouse for its food quality and 76% for the taste of its delivered sandwiches, while 67.3% felt the delivery order was visually attractive when it arrived.
Potbelly Sandwich Shop: 72.9% of consumers felt that the food quality of Potbelly's delivery was tops, while taste and visual appeal were neck-in-neck at 69.5% and 69.6% respectively.
The Habit Burger Grill: Food quality was rated high by 72% of consumers, with taste and flavor receiving a score of 69.4%. The visual appeal of Habit's delivery orders was cited by 68% of respondents.
Jet’s Pizza: The food quality of Jet's delivered pizzas was given high marks by 68.5% of consumers. Taste and flavor received the highest rating, with a score of 75.5%, while visual appeal scored 72%.
Aside from Habit Burger Grill, the three highest-rated chains offer sandwiches and pizza—foods that adapt well to off-premise. And all are pretty experienced off-premise operators. It’s a little trickier to retain quality when packing up burgers and fries to go, but Habit was ranked high by two-thirds to three-quarters of consumers on all three attributes.