Delivering the Digital Restaurant: 9 Food Gifts for the Digital Age


In the past, we would bring in bottles of wine or cookie trays as holiday gifts. This tradition has evolved, enabled by the digitization of restaurants. The modern take on bringing a bottle of wine or a tray of cookies to a party is to send your friends and family treats ordered online. The digital age has made it easier for the giver and the retailer to give gifts. Almost any food gift can be found online, with ease of purchase and completion, even for recipients who live far away. Sending thoughtful culinary gifts is now as easy as sending a Christmas card. In fact, even easier; the gift doesn’t need to put on matching pajamas or have your hair cut to ensure a perfect card!

Food gifts are the ultimate in sharing experiences rather than things. Restaurants are meeting the demand by expanding their self-definition and creating online retail stores.

In this special “Delivering the Digital Restaurant” section, we share some of our favorite websites for ordering gifts. The freebies among you will love these new ways to shop. The restaurants among you should take note of these great examples to make your brand gift. Determine which of these giveaway strategies makes sense for your restaurant to add next year.

  1. Gift card collections. Gift cards are a classic restaurant holiday gift. Multiple platforms make it easy for donors to choose from restaurants and send funds electronically – no plastic waste, no shipping, and immediate fulfillment. Open table has created a collection of electronic gift cards for local restaurants, and the Gift Card Mall makes it easy to find your favorite big brands.
  2. Text gift. the giftya website makes receiving a restaurant gift card even easier. Recipients receive an SMS with funds that includes a personalized message and a photo of the donor. The funds are linked directly to the beneficiary’s existing debit or credit card and are transferred automatically when the beneficiary spends at the designated restaurant.
  3. First Party Electronic Gift Cards. Want to directly support your local restaurant and ensure that no costs are wasted between your purchase and the restaurant receiving the gift? Innovated by Starbucks, online ordering systems like Grill now make this feature available for every restaurant – like the local restaurant Barley Pork (in Austin, Texas). the Lettuce keeps you entertained The Chicago restaurant group also facilitates giveaways across its brand portfolio through a platform called Cashstar. These two examples are great examples of the “sasification” of catering technology. A feature that was previously only available to large chains that invested heavily in personalized solutions is now available to everyone through monthly subscriptions and percentage fees.
  4. Food subscriptions. Want your recipient to think of you once a month for a year? Food subscriptions provide high quality food to help your recipient experience their “food as identity”. Butcher’s shop deliver grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and wild seafood to the ecologist on your list. Daily harvest delivers “organic, nutritious, clean” plant-based frozen foods to the vegetarian on your list. Purple carrot makes it easy to plan healthy meals, with plant-based meal kits for the vegans on your list.
  5. Specialty food market. golden belly allows giveaways to send iconic dishes from local restaurants to friends who have moved. Know the recipient on your list is missing a Chicago pizza? Gifts can remind loved ones of home.
  6. Donation of first party products. Those who wish to directly support restaurants can order from restaurant websites. the MahZeDahr Bakery New York City has probably the finest website and giveaway items online. Recipients will feel the indulgence and care of the gift thanks to the beautiful packaging that encourages the “unboxing” of instagram videos and photos. Graeter’s made their amazing ice cream available online for nationwide shipping. These companies have invested in their proprietary online ordering experiences, creating websites that rival online retailing.
  7. Delivery platforms. Don’t know what your recipient likes? DoorDash, GrubHub and Uber Eats all of them sell gift cards that can be redeemed for delivery from any restaurant on the platform.
  8. Specialty wine. Rules relaxed during the pandemic for restaurants selling off-premises alcohol. Many states have extended relaxed laws to allow restaurants to deliver alcohol or offer it for pickup. DTSA Playground offers an oenoclub in which amateurs can buy wine selections made by its sommelier. Using the Toast interface, freebies can reserve a hard-to-find 4-pack of wines for pickup.
  9. Online cooking class. cozy meal offers cooking classes with qualified chefs in the comfort of your own home. Throw a virtual holiday party for homework colleagues or send a class to the toughest home cook on your list to start cooking.

All these sites present concepts of Offer the digital restaurant:

  • Focus on experiences rather than possessions
  • The value of convenience
  • Blurring the lines between grocery store, restaurant and online shopping
  • Using food to share identity
  • Increase restaurant sales with new products that extend beyond the four walls
  • Third-party marketplaces making life easier for consumers
  • SaaS tools to enable all restaurants, large and small, to participate in the opportunities offered by technology
  • Frictionless trading

The digitization of the restaurant industry has made it easier for donors to support local restaurants and focus on giving. It’s the thought that counts, and all of these websites help donors be more thoughtful with less effort. Restaurants can grow their bottom line by offering what their fans want – the ability to send a thoughtful gift while the pros take care of the product and logistics. We look forward to 2022, when we expect even more restaurants to offer their products and services as gifts online.

Authors biography

Meredith Sandland and Carl Orsbourn are co-authors of “Offering the digital restaurant: your roadmap for the future of food. “After each spending over 20 years in corporate strategy and retail food, Meredith and Carl each concluded that food in America was changing. They quit their corporate jobs in search of innovations that would transform the restaurant industry. Ghost kitchens, virtual brands, digital marketing, the concert economy and lean operations are at the heart of the future they envision. , visit or email [email protected].


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