A 2011 consumer survey by Technomic reports that restaurant takeout frequency has increased over the past three years. Convenience continues to be the top driver, with proper packaging (that doesn’t leak and keeps food the right temperature) being critical to customer satisfaction. Restaurants across the country are capitalizing on the continuing momentum of the takeout market.
Not Your Average Joe’s, BOSTON, MA, makes it easy for customers to order takeout via an online ordering system, which founder Steve Silverstein says works well because it puts the customer in charge – eliminating mistakes and errors – plus it’s easy to reorder as previous orders can be viewed. “We also have a separate entrance for takeout, so those coming to pick up don’t get mixed into the line of customers waiting to be seated.” When it comes to packaging, Steve adds that the bar has been raised. “The quality of packaging connotes the quality of the food and it’s now a prerequisite that it be brand-consistent, eco-friendly, and microwaveable.” Takeout accounts for 11% of their business which, he reports, is increasing a little faster than total sales . . . At West Town Tavern, CHICAGO, IL, owner Susan Goss says, “Takeout is an important part of our business and is growing, especially on weekends, with 75 to 80 orders a month and an average check of $30 or more.” She says her takeout customers are part of a generation that grew up dining out on gourmet food and now they want the option to eat it at home. “Everything on the menu, even ice cream, is available for takeout because we want our customers to be able to enjoy the same choices that they have when they dine in with us,” says Susan. “And we feel that when people open the container our food needs to look as good as it does in the restaurant, therefore we don’t skimp on packaging.” Susan says she tested containers (which cost the restaurant $2.15 each) by taking all menu items home to ensure they held the proper temperature and didn’t leak.
“Our free iPhone and Android apps allow customers to order and pay for takeout on their smartphones. They like it because it’s easy to use and when they come in they can skip the line, going directly to the pickup counter.”
– Molly Catalano, director of communications, Five Guys, headquarters, LORTON, VA
To meet requests from fans of the restaurant working in the nearby financial district who don’t have time to have lunch there, La Mar Cebicheria Peruana, SAN FRANCISCO, CA, turns the bar into a “cafe” Monday through Friday, offering takeout box lunches with a choice of sandwich or salad, house-made chips, and a cookie for $8 to $15. Susan Hwang, office manager, says the restaurant sells as many as 50 box lunches a week. . . At Hermann’s, CADILLAC, MI, in order to encourage takeout during the slow winter months, customers are offered a 20% discount after 5pm Mondays through Thursdays. “It’s important to have the fewest limitations, so we offer the full menu. Chef/owner Hermann Suhs says the 40+ takeout orders each month are an important addition to the bottom line and the discount helps make takeout possible for busy families on a budget.