6 ChowNow Alternatives For Direct Online Ordering

ChowNow is outdated. THIS is the best ChowNow alternative for ambitious restaurant owners:

5 min read
November 22, 2023

Key takeaways

Is ChowNow the best choice for your restaurant?

ChowNow rose to popularity as one of the first online ordering systems for restaurants. Its low price point also makes it an attractive option for many restaurant owners.

However, if your goal is to increase your direct online orders, ChowNow is weak on several key features.

In this article, we’ll discuss the 6 best alternatives to ChowNow.

What To Consider When Choosing a ChowNow Alternative

We believe that the "best" ChowNow alternative depends on your goals.

Every restaurant is different. Some just want a low-cost option to try online ordering for the first time. Some don't like how every restaurant on ChowNow looks the same, and want a highly customized website.

Our list below assumes that your goal is to increase your online direct orders.

If that's you, you should run this checklist as you look at alternatives.

✅ How good is it at driving online orders?

Not all online food ordering platforms are created equal.

ChowNow is basically an online menu. Some platforms give you your own website, but not much else.

On the other hand, some are designed to drive visitors to your website, convert those visitors into customers, and turn those customers into regulars. If you want more orders, that’s the kind of platform you want.

✅ How much extra work will you have to do?

As a restaurant owner, you already have a million things on your plate. But you know marketing is important for increasing your direct orders.

Choose an online food ordering platform that automates as much of your marketing as possible.

✅ Will your restaurant get its own mobile app?

Here’s the reality: DoorDash, Uber Eats and other big online food delivery apps have all trained your customers to order from their phones. 

The best ChowNow alternatives give your restaurant its own mobile app. It’s what your customers expect today. 

A key part of increasing your direct orders is having a mobile app that drives repeat orders. Having an app also gives you control over your customer data, which brings us to our next checklist criteria.

✅ Will your customers get a loyalty program?

Customers order more from restaurants where they get rewards. Starbucks and Dominoes both have loyalty and rewards programs – why shouldn’t you?

Online ordering systems that have loyalty programs are better at increasing direct orders for your website.

✅ Will your website match your brand?

One of the issues restaurant owners have with ChowNow is that your restaurant website looks like everyone else’s. Search for a restaurant on ChowNow and see for yourself.

Choose a website builder that helps you showcase your restaurant’s unique story, which helps keep you top of mind.

✅ How good is their customer service?

ChowNow’s customer service has great reviews, so if you’re looking for an alternative, choose the platform that also has a reputation for great service. 

Software review sites like G2, Capterra, and Trustpilot show you what other restaurant owners are saying about competitors. 

Now that you have a way to evaluate alternatives, here's our top pick:

Owner.com – The Best ChowNow Alternative for Independent Restaurants

If your goal is to increase your direct online orders, Owner.com (that’s us!) is your best choice.

Here’s how Owner.com compares to the 6 checklist features we mentioned above:

Owner.com is a direct online ordering system with automatic marketing. You'll get a website and mobile app that’s designed to increase your direct orders.

How we drive sales for our customers:

1. We’ll get you more traffic from Google.

Our websites are built with restaurant SEO (search engine optimization) in mind, so when someone searches for food in your area, your website will come up.

Restaurants on ChowNow also get traffic from Google, but it goes to their website, not yours. With Owner.com, customers go to your website directly.

2. We'll build you a website designed to increase orders.

Owner.com is designed to convert website visitors into customers.

We've spent years -- and millions of dollars -- to optimize our online food ordering system to drive orders. When you combine this with our automatic marketing features, we’ve seen restaurants get three to five times more sales with Owner.com compared to their current setup.

3. We drive more repeat orders for you.

Owner.com gives your restaurant a customer loyalty program, just like Starbucks. Customers love collecting points and it keeps them coming back. Our automatic marketing sends email & SMS to your customers, which helps you get more loyal customers.

Owner.com, like ChowNow, shines when it comes to customer reviews. Here’s how ChowNow and Owner.com are rated on the G2 review site, which is like Yelp for software.

ChowNow on G2
Owner.com on G2

Here's what our restaurant partners say about us:

“Since we started using Owner 3 years ago, we’ve done over $2,000,000 in direct online sales and grown from 1 to 6 locations. It gives restaurants superpowers to succeed online,” say Mo and Omar, owners at Talkin Tacos.

Phillip Hang, owner at Sushi Me Rollin' also has great things to say. “Now that we’ve used Owner for 1 year, I can say confidently that it is the best technology in our restaurant. We’ve increased direct online sales by over $77,000 in the past 10 months alone.”

To be fair, there are a few situations where we recommend ChowNow over Owner.com:

If you’re just getting started with online ordering and aren’t sure if it’s worth the investment, ChowNow is a great choice.

ChowNow has affordable pricing and is an excellent first option for restaurants going direct for the first time.

Finally, if most of your business is dine-in and you don’t do a lot of takeout volume, ChowNow could be a fit. In this case, it doesn’t really make sense to invest in a website, mobile app and automatic marketing.

However, if increasing direct online orders is a high priority for you, Owner.com is the best ChowNow alternative.

Get a demo of Owner.com here.

Popmenu: For dine-in restaurants 

Popmenu's features make it a better fit for dine-in restaurants. Compared to other options on this list, they have great front of house solutions that can help you run a smoother operation. 

However, it’s missing features that keep it from being one of the best ChowNow alternatives: 

You won't get a custom mobile app. Its online ordering system alsoisn’t designed to convert more people into customers on your website.

You may also want to know that at the time of writing, Popmenu has a 2.7 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot

Teague Kernan, owner of Tupelo in San Francisco, CA, says in her review, "I highly recommend NOT using PopMenu. It’s basically a typical “bait and switch” company that makes promises they don’t keep."

Sauce: For optimizing delivery with flat fees per order

Sauce is appropriate if your main priority is optimizing your delivery.

Sauce is a good alternative for restaurants that already get a lot of traffic to their current website. They’re designed to streamline your delivery operations and margins, not drive more traffic.

So if your restaurant already has a marketing team in place, or if getting new customers is not an issue, then Sauce could be a fit.  

Their pricing model is different from ChowNow, as they charge a flat fee for each delivery order rather than a monthly fee. 

It's worth noting that Sauce has the some of the same limitations as ChowNow – no custom website, no mobile app, and no options for automated email marketing. 

If your top business goal is just reducing how much you pay on delivery, Sauce is worth a look.

SpotHopper: For high-end restaurants with no takeout

SpotHopper is a great fit for high-end restaurants who need their online presence to feel ultra premium. SpotHopper includes a custom video and photoshoot in their service, and they also help you manage your social media.

However, for driving direct orders, they don't offer takeout, and the online ordering lacks functionality compared to others on this list. 

SpotHopper is a great ChowNow alternative for restaurants that need attractive websites, but don’t need their online ordering system to drive a lot of volume.

Slice: For pizza shops getting started with online orders

Slice is a ChowNow alternative for pizza shops that want to start taking online orders. 

While they offer a lot of features, the biggest downside is that orders take place on Slice's website instead of your own website. This is great for Slice, but hurts your website’s SEO factors and Google traffic in the long run, reducing your ability to increase direct online orders.

Since Slice takes the order on their website (or on the Slice app) – they decide what marketing to run to your customers.

Some pizzeria owners like Slice because they charge per order, instead of a monthly fee. If you’re just getting started, it should be high on your list of ChowNow alternatives.

Customer reviews and feedback on customer support are mixed. On Trustpilot, Slice has a 2.8 out of 5 rating. 

Bentobox: For dine-in restaurants that need an online presence

Bentobox is a ChowNow alternative that’s suitable for upscale restaurants that need a website. They excel in solutions for dine-in customers, as their online ordering system isn’t as optimized for takeout and delivery compared to the other options on this list.

While most options on this list either offer a straightforward monthly contract (like Owner.com) or per order charges (like Slice), Bentobox has a large list of pricing tiers depending on the features you want.

Consider Bentobox if you want to get up and running quickly, and increasing online food orders isn’t a priority for you. 

One reviewer noted, "They make a website for your business but you don’t own or control it. In fact, they use that against you. They charge $199/month or $119/month for hosting which is basically $25 or so everywhere else."

At time of writing, customers on Trustpilot rate them is 2.8 out of 5.

Choose The ChowNow Alternative That Fits Your Goals

As you can see, there are plenty of ChowNow alternatives to choose from.

But also consider whether you need one in the first place:

If you’re just getting started with online ordering: ChowNow might be a great fit for your restaurant business. It’s a straightforward online ordering system with an affordable price.

However, we also see a lot of ChowNow customers “graduate” to Owner.com.

If increasing direct online ordering has become your top priority, we’d love to show you how our platform works.

Book a 20 minute demo with our team here.

A few things we’ll cover:

  • How we handle food delivery
  • The specifics of how we get you more customers
  • Why owning your customer data is important for your business

Frequently asked questions

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Adam Guild is the CEO of Owner, a restaurant marketing platform that makes online growth easy for restaurants.


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