Categorized | Featured, Menu Development

Expand Your Menu on the Go

Posted on 09 March 2010 by Agile Chef

Our society is always on the go. Between work, school, family and friends—not to mention a little sleep here and there—it can be hard to find time to grab a bite at all, let alone sit down for a full restaurant meal. As a foodservice operator, you’ve probably seen the effects of our collective time crunch firsthand. Whether your restaurant features a curbside take-away lane or a take-out delivery service, you know that today’s customers appreciate the speed and convenience of grab-and-go dining.

One proponent of grab-and-go dishes, Sodexho Corporate Services’ Bill Mitchell, attributes the genre’s growing popularity to its speed and convenience, something every restaurant operator appreciates. So take advantage of the on-the-go trend and expand your restaurant’s grab-and-go menu selections using the helpful tips here:

It’s all about portability. Lunchtime favorites like salads (Sodexho’s 5-ounce “Salad Shots”) and sandwiches (the “pocket” sandwiches sold in Wolfgang Puck’s To Go kiosks) are easily converted to portable menu options; however, she cites the popularity of items like chicken skewers and breakfast wraps as proof that more unusual grab-and-go dishes can be just as attractive to on-the-go diners.

Cut costsnot qualityby substituting ingredients and revising preparation methods. Save money by using alternative preparation methods and lower-priced ingredients when creating grab-and-go versions of your standby recipes. For instance, you can replace the cut of meat used in your regular dishes with a lower-priced alternative. Your grab-and-go items retain the essence of the original dishes but take less time and money to prepare.

Pre-package dishes in their own containers. Larry Harris, food services director for Restaurant Associates at The Rockefeller University, watched his sales spike after pre-packaging grab-and-go dishes:

When we opened we had it [set up] so customers could put the food in containers, and it just didn’t sell…. After a couple days, we switched to this [grab-and-go] format, and it was amazing—people were buying individual containers of everything…

Take a page out of Harris’ book and package your to-go entrees and sides in their own containers. By taking the guesswork out of portion sizes and pricing, you increase efficiency, provide more consistent service and maintain better control over your profits.

So get started on grab-and-go dishes today, and make your menu options as convenient for you as they are for your customers!

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