Take It to the Lake
EVEN BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, we planned to cover carryout in this issue of All The Ingredients. Nothing says “Memorial Day” and “Summer Kickoff” like a picnic basket full of your favorite food from your favorite establishment. When our industry was sidelined due COVID restrictions and regulations, we, like so many of you, had to change our game plan. We imagine every operator who has remained open during these unprecedented times has already spent hours improving their carryout process and researching the best food and packaging options available. After last week’s announcement that the state would re-open and dining rooms could once again welcome customers, we debated whether take out might… hit the road. Actually, it turns out carryout is more important now than ever.
Datassential’s most recent COVID reporting (dated 5-1-2020) stated that only 34% of Americans were comfortable returning to restaurant dining rooms or cafeterias with only 27% comfortable with food courts or food halls. This hesitation, combined with consumers desire to get outside and enjoy the fresh air prompted us to carry on with our carryout advice. Operators should also note that, with the limited seating available under the current mandates allowing 25% occupancy and social distancing between tables, restaurants should rely less on limited dine-in cash flow and rather, continue to lean into improving their carryout game over the coming months.
Here are a few insights innovative operators throughout the country are considering as diners line up outside their doors.
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
Understand how much carryout your staff and your kitchen can handle. Proper packaging takes time and consideration. Too much carry out business could end up hurting your dine-in guest’s service expectations if staff is stretched too thin. Consider having a dedicated to-go staff.
WIDE OPEN SPACES
Social distancing is likely cramping your space as you rearrange tables and waiting areas to comply with dine-in regulations. Whenever possible, have a completely separate carryout space, avoiding close interaction between patrons but also allowing your to-go staff the space they need to keep things moving. Use signage to clearly direct dine-in and carryout customers where to go, creating a “one way only” traffic pattern in and out of your establishment.
WHERE’S THE WARE?
Your Florida Food Service rep can point you in the right direction when it comes to flatware. Choosing the right ware for the right meal is crucial to customer satisfaction. Depending on your processes and local requirements, utilizing traditional takeout flatware might be something to consider for your dine in customers as well.
Your customer’s carryout experience should include the same level of care and concern your staff offers table side. Have staff confirm orders before hanging up and again when handing over the order. Offer condiments and flatware and always show appreciation by thanking your guest.
We’re so proud of our customers who have persevered and remained open by offering quality curbside and carryout meals during this trying season. We know that your continued efforts will certainly lead to more success. As you move forward and begin to open your doors to diners, take the time to reach out to your Florida Food Service Representative for suggestions on how you can continue offering excellent carry out service in the midst of seating returning dine-in consumers.
Go the Extra Mile…
• Serve HOT FOOD HOT, COLD FOOD COLD!
• Make sure the order is correct. Get it right the first time.
• Offer appreciation and “Thank You” from ALL staff.
• This is your opportunity to brand your business. Quality, reusable to-go bags become walking advertising as guest re-purpose them for use in public.
• Build a customer connection by writing a personal note on takeout boxes thanking the guest or include a snippet of information or story about the item they chose.
• Before orders are placed, capture information about any dietary restrictions or preferences.
• Upsell by offering wine pairings and cocktail orders.
• Use to-go orders as a springboard to dine-in on a future date with a “bounce back” card or discount on orders placed within a certain time frame.
• If you use a third party such as Uber Eats, Grub Hub, etc. Test them. Have a friend/family member order a meal. See how it arrives. Don’ let a third party hurt YOUR business.