Foodservice Updates is designed to help foodservice operators keep on top of all the industry news and provides tips for keeping business running smooth. We endeavor to provide the latest tips and solutions to keep you in the know.
Could curb-side pickup be a pandemic silver lining?
At a time when operators have been struggling to make delivery profitable, curb-side pickup has solved some problems. Consumers like it too: Recent Technomic research found that about 40 percent of Americans who have purchased takeout from a restaurant during the pandemic have chosen curb-side pickup and two-thirds of those respondents say they will continue to use curb-side pickup service even after indoor dining restrictions are lifted. The challenge is that many restaurants offering curb-side pickup created the structure on the fly as the pandemic created the need for it. As a result, the service may not be as seamless as it could be. A recent Restaurant Dive report describes operator challenges such as difficulty managing the high volume of calls from customers placing orders and arriving to pick them up. Busy periods have also made it difficult for operators to notice when a particular make and model of car arrives to pick up food. A mixture of new technology and more conventional reconfigurations can help streamline the process. For example, some online ordering platforms – Olo is one – offer alerts that let restaurant staff know when a curb-side customer has arrived. QR codes or textable numbers can also be posted on signs in designated parking spots outside the restaurant to alert staff inside to the arrival of a customer. Other operators are making new use of interior space once needed for guests dining inside – by redesigning waiting areas as places where curb-side orders can be held at the right temperature and ready to be handed off quickly to an arriving customer.
The continued rise of conscious consumption
Restaurants have touted their environmentally friendly practices to consumers for some time – offering local produce, minimizing their waste and changing up their to-go packaging. In fact, the National Restaurant Association reported that back in 2018, more than half of consumers said they would be likely to choose a restaurant based on its eco-friendly practices, such as water conservation and recycling. But some restaurants are now raising their game a step higher in an effort to appeal to guests who are passionate about minimizing their impact on the environment. The fast-casual brand Just Salad announced recently that it would be launching a “climatarian” menu available to customers who order via its web and digital channels. The Spoon reports that guests can select a dish based on its carbon footprint or, in the case of meat lovers, opt for a “conscientious carnivores” dish. Guests will be able to determine the environmental impact of their build-your-own salad offerings too. Expect to see more restaurants drill down on – and promote – details about their sustainability efforts in such ways. According to research from IRI and NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business, Millennial consumers are most likely to purchase products marketed as “sustainable” – these items are popular across demographics as well – and this trend has held true throughout the pandemic. At the same time, consumer expectations are rising when it comes to the craveability of the eco-friendly foods they buy. Darren Seifer of NPD Group said recently that the food industry needs to maintain and market the taste, health benefits and environmental impact of its offerings to continue to draw eco-conscious consumers.
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