Article contributed by Devin Partida
Although many people are getting back to their normal routines, some pandemic measures will remain in effect as safety precautions. Restaurant owners and managers don’t have to wait for dine-in customers to fill their tables again to recover from COVID-19-related financial losses.
Use these six tips to adapt dine-in meals for takeout and serve more guests by feeding people who prefer to stay at home.
1. Find the Best Packaging
There are many takeout packaging options available, but they may not work for every menu option. Liquid-based foods need leak-proof containers, while more durable items like breadsticks will last well in a paper bag. You should consider what your restaurant serves to match the food with the most suitable packaging.
Takeout containers should also benefit servers and food prep staff. Unless everything uses see-through plastic, staff members may accidentally send orders home with the wrong customers because they can’t tell what’s in the bag. Use permanent markers or pens on chosen packaging to clarify what’s in each container and reduce the odds of mistaken orders.
2. Update the Digital Menu
When people visit a restaurant, they browse the menu and look at pictures to decide what they want to eat. They can’t do that if they place an order over the phone, but they will have access to the internet. Update your restaurant’s website with a full menu that includes pictures of meals, appetizers, desserts and even drinks.
High-quality photos may encourage guests to add extra food to their order or try something new. Boosting sales is easier when everything looks undeniably delicious. Make sure every dish stands out before posting pictures online — eye-catching plate arrangements and lighting make any digital menu more inviting.
3. Keep Supplies Stocked
Guests don’t want to wait for their order after arriving to pick it up. They also don’t want to hear that their chicken Parmesan isn’t available because there aren’t big enough takeout containers to serve it. Program calendar reminders to restock packaging and any other related items guests need to have a great experience.
There are stock replenishment methods that work with different budgets and order estimates. The periodic system minimizes stocking time by utilizing more storage space for orders. In contrast, the top-off process prepares businesses for high-sale periods just before rush days or seasons begin. The best option will depend on a restaurant’s incoming order traffic and how fast guests go through the takeout inventory.
4. Use a Larger Warmer
Heated shelf warmers are typically located between the cooks and where servers pick up dine-in dishes. They won’t hold more than a few plates, so they aren’t the most advantageous kitchen amenity for call-in orders. You can adapt meals for takeout by installing more warming shelf space.
The packaged order bags can stay warm on the shelving while you’re waiting for customers to pick them up. No one will arrive home with a cold meal. If this option is too expensive, consider temporarily adjusting your purchasing budget by switching ingredients and supplies.
Many dining and hospitality brands began to purchase artificial meat when the pandemic caused a shortage in early 2020. This reduces food and beverage costs while helping the planet since livestock releases harmful methane gases that contribute to global warming. You can use artificial meat for some entrees and make eco-friendly marketing efforts to expand your consumer base while saving money for helpful supplies like shelf warmers.
5. Provide Extra Amenities
Guests don’t always eat takeout meals at home. They may stop by a public park or a socially distanced event after getting their food. Therefore, you should provide extra amenities in takeout bags. Guests will appreciate things that make their food easier to eat and more delicious, like:
- Plastic flatware
- Packaged toppings
Think about what dine-in guests need the restaurant to provide and add it to takeout bags. Additionally, reserved takeout parking will make the experience more enjoyable for guests. Label the spaces closest to the restaurant with signs or words painted on the concrete. Dedicated parking spaces make it easy for people to run in, get their food and get back to their day.
6. Consider Meal Kits
Many grocery stores ran out of food when the pandemic began. People emptied the shelves and the supply chain couldn’t restock them quickly. Restaurants began to offer meal kits, which is an excellent way to serve big families or individuals who want a personal touch.
Given that 68% of consumers eat more takeout than before the pandemic, providing more mealtime flexibility is essential. Families can order meal kits to make their favorite restaurant entrees at home if they can’t make it to the grocery store and personalize their food by adding ingredients or removing allergens.
Adapt Dine-in Meals for Takeout
You can use these tips to adapt dine-in meals for takeout orders. Rethinking kitchen layouts, restocking schedules and menu options are just a few ways to meet the needs of consumers while public health safety measures remain in place.
Devin Partida is a restaurant and business technologies writer. Her work has been featured on Yahoo! Finance, Entrepreneur, AOL and Business2Community. She is also an editor at ReHack.com.