Cafe Rio Mexican Grill first launched its new store-of-the-future concept in 2021. Dubbed the Digital Café, it puts technology at the center of the consumer experience while reducing labor and hard costs. Featuring traditional drive-thru, curbside ordering with technology partner FlyBuy, digital kiosk ordering, and mobile app ordering, this new concept puts power in the hands of the consumer to select their preferred ordering channel. This Digital Café format highlights Cafe Rio’s digital leadership and builds on one of the strongest loyalty participation rates in the industry, at over 35%.
Last month, Cafe Rio opened its sixth Digital Café location systemwide in Buckeye, Arizona, the first of its kind in the Arizona market. The Digital Café’s first week of sales exceeded the average opening sales for Cafe Rio’s other 2022 openings, demonstrating the consumer hunger for this type of tech-forward dining option. With this successful recent opening, these digital format restaurants are seeing average unit volumes exceed traditional format volumes by almost 20%.
“Over one third of our sales revenue comes through our mobile app or website. This digital innovation in our store design allows us to provide convenient ordering options that our customers clearly want,” says Cafe Rio CEO, Steve Vaughan. “Additionally, the contactless ordering experience enables us to open in locations with smaller footprints, allowing us to expand our reach in communities with limited retail space.” This new footprint reduces restaurant square footage by up to 20%, making a more efficient use of space for the restaurant and allowing for growth paths that were previously not accessible.
“Digital ordering at Cafe Rio has almost tripled over the last 2 years,” says Cafe Rio CTO, Todd Paladini. “We are using this change in consumer preferences to construct and modify our ordering channels to align with guest needs.”
Cafe Rio is adapting and growing its digital impact, while centralizing the needs of the customer and never sacrificing food quality. The new design includes fans’ favorites and Cafe Rio’s famous customizations, with added ordering channels that give guests more flexibility.