Time to Embrace Restaurant Tech: Even if You’re Not a Millennial


The 2017 Dining Survey from American Express is a few months old but super interesting. Especially fascinating to see the disparities between the generations when it comes to social media, digital ordering, and tipping. And although I tend to skew millennial on the tech front, I am not with them when it comes to ordering a meal made out of restaurant leftovers (39% of millennials are supposedly OK with that….).

NOTE: The restaurants surveyed were all independents – not chains. This really surprised me given some of the responses.

Take-Out Tech to Grow

  • Millennials are twice as likely (62%) as Boomers (28%) to use a restaurant’s mobile app or website to order take-out
  • Millennials are also more likely (58%) to use Grubhub or Seamless than Gen-Xers (35%) or Boomers (21%)
  • 24% of restaurateurs currently use an online platform like Grubhub and 31% are planning to soon
  • 24% of restaurateurs let you order ahead through their own website or mobile app and 42% plan to soon

To Tip or Not To Tip

  • 15% of restaurants have adopted – or plan to adopt – a no-tipping policy
  • The majority of consumers (63%) say they prefer to tip their server
  • Most (59%) add the tip to their charge card
  • Millennials, on the other hand:
  • Prefer not to tip (46%)
  • Want a service charge added to their bills in lieu of a tip (18%)
  • Leave a cash tip when paying with a credit card (46%)

Social media is a key component of the dining experience esp. for millennials

  • 72% of millennials post about their restaurant experience on social media
  • 83% of restaurateurs view social media as having a very positive impact on their business
  • Social media sites most popular with restaurateurs: Facebook (85%) and Instagram (46%)

Tech at the Table: Keeping the Human Touch in a Digital World

  • 7% of restaurant owners use automated customer service technology such as digital kiosks or table-side ordering
  • 26% say they plan to adopt this technology
  • 75% of diners meanwhile favor a restaurant with traditional wait staff
  • 39% of Millennials prefer restaurants to have digital customer service platforms

Read on below for more on what restaurant operators are doing to combat food waste and overall financial outlook.

With a Positive Financial Outlook, Restaurateurs Plan Tech Investments & Hiring

  • 54% of restaurant operators say revenues are up from a year ago
  • 72% are expecting continued growth during the next 12 months
  • 65% plan for tech investments in the next 12 months
  • 83% plan to hire both front and back of house staff in the next year

More are adding locally-sourced ingredients to their menus

  • 56% of diners want restaurants to use locally-sourced ingredients on their menus
  • 44% of restaurateurs use locally-sourced ingredients; 40% are considering it.

Innovations to combat food waste

  • 48% of restaurant owners believe food waste has a significant impact on profitability and are taking measures to reduce it
  • 38% are repurposing ingredients or offering special menu items made with excess food
  • 60% evaluate inventory or train staff on waste reduction
  • 53% monitor portion sizes to reduce waste
  • 83% of diners ask to have their leftover food wrapped


  • 27% of diners are likely to order a meal made from leftover ingredients
  • Among millennials, it’s 39%

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