restaurant business plan

Making Take Out Food
A Driving Success

According to a recent NRA survey, takeout has increased 34% during the last two years in tableservice restaurants with average checks of $25+. Six out of 10 tableservice operators reported that their customers are more interested in higher quality takeout foods than they were two years ago.

"Offering takeout has increased the business we do with our regular customers—takeout sales have doubled in a year." — Lane Schmiesing, sr. vp marketing, Buca di Beppo, Minneapolis, MN

Execution: To execute takeout successfully, Lane Schmiesing, senior vp, marketing, Buca di Beppo, Minneapolis, MN, believes that you need to integrate takeout carefully into your existing operation. "If you're going to offer takeout and be successful, you need to make the commitment to do it right. You need to set up systems, find the best quality packaging, and make sure your takeout operation is adequately staffed," says Lane.

One huge thing in doing take out well is to make sure the order is properly assembled. Nothing drives customer dissatisfaction more than arriving home to find a missing item or wrong item bundled in with their order. They may not always call to let you know the mistake, they simply don't come back. So it is crucial to have a double check system in place in which no order goes out the door without two people verifying that the order is complete, including condiments, etc.

Having just one person is assigned to handle takeout—from order taking through packing can work, but it must be their only job. "To make it easy on the kitchen, the takeout expediter brings the proper packaging to each station along with the order," explains Angelo Vivolo, owner. "He double checks the order after packing the delivery bag because having an order leave with something missing is the worst." To streamline takeout, Buca di Beppo created a specific set of standards and procedures for takeout and set up a separate staging area in the kitchen. Takeout stations are visible from the front door so customers know where to go to pick up their food. Several parking places near the door have been designated for takeout customers only.

Packaging: "I had my supplier send me samples which my employees and I tested by taking out food ourselves. It's a long process, but packaging is incredibly important in order to maintain the quality of food when it is transported," advises Eva Nagata, owner, Sushi Hana, Missoula, MT.

Another way to lose the take out business is to have your customers arrive home with their food all sloshed together, or worse, spilled in their car. Your packaging needs to both preserve a nice presentation of the food as well as stand up to rough handling and less than perfectly horizontal alignment. In the end, what costs more- spending a little more on packaging or losing a customer for life?

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