Local eateries are reaching out digitally to attract more customers.

The option to order online is a growing trend with Tucson restaurants trying to keep up with the plethora of chain restaurants.

Rosa Blass, owner of Laverna’s Coffee Shop, added online ordering about three months ago.

“It’s something new that is going to take a while to get used to,” she said. “Hopefully it will increase sales.”

Convenience and order accuracy are the biggest attraction to online ordering, Blass said.

A tablet rings when an online order is placed in the queue and the customer knows when the order will be ready at the coffee shop, at 220 S. Plumer Ave., just south of Broadway.

“They pay for it online and just come by and pick it up,” Blass said.

Mostly young people have used the online order form, she said. Her regular customers, such as construction workers and mechanics, still line up at 5:30 and wait for the shop’s doors to open.

Industry experts say the digital interaction of ordering food is preferable to being put on hold over the telephone or waiting in line to place an order, especially among younger customers.

“The National Restaurant Association says the availability of technology options is an important factor when choosing a restaurant for nearly one-third of all adults and more than 40 percent of millennials,” according to Business Insider. “To millennials, even if a restaurant is right around the corner, it’s virtually invisible if it’s not easy to access online.”

Business Insider reports that “every 100 takeout orders received each week (online) saved the restaurants 2ƒ hours of workers’ time. With customers entering their own information, online ordering can also improve accuracy.

“Showing the biggest benefit to moving to online ordering were smaller restaurants; they typically see a 50 percent increase in takeout revenue.”

Shelby and Randie Collier, owners of Beyond Bread, added online ordering at their three shops six months ago.

“It works great, both for the regular menu and for pick-up catering,” Shelby Collier said. The order prints directly into the kitchen and the customer chooses the pick-up time.

He said a lot of young people use it to order their lunch, “but it’s not millennials only because our catering is mostly to businesses and older customers.”

Collier said he doesn’t foresee adding a lot of automation to his stores at 421 W. Ina Road, 3026 N. Campbell Ave., and 6260 E. Speedway.

Customers of Beyond Bread often have questions about products or ingredients.

“We’re trying to offer a little more service than McDonald’s, which is trying to automate everything,” Collier said. “Automation makes sense for them because you just want to go through the mundane process of ordering. Do you really have a lot of questions when you go there?”

While automation has been used as a means to reduce workforces, neither Laverna’s or Beyond Bread has cut staff as a result of the online ordering systems.

Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at grico@tucson.com.


Gabriela's newspaper career began at the Tucson Citizen in '86 as the "movie-times girl" where she'd call local theaters for showtimes. Since then, she's written about crime, education, immigration, trade and business. She's been with the Star since 2007.