Solutions to Speed Takeout and Delivery
Pizza and Asian food no longer hold the monopoly on takeout and delivery – any restaurant can offer both with proper planning. Some of the other most popular items are wings, salads, bowls and sandwiches. And with Technomic's findings1 that 58% of all foodservice orders are placed for carryout or delivery, finding quick, efficient ways to prep both takeout and dine-in orders is a must.
Portioning condiments beforehand - with the right tools - can take the guesswork out of that extra prep work, shaving valuable time off your processes and controlling food costs. Which ultimately allows you to feed more hungry customers!
If your restaurant crafts its own dipping sauces and toppings, you feel the pain more than those who purchase pre-portioned packets. Pouring or ladling dipping sauces into soufflé cups by hand slows down a process that demands speed and accuracy.
Portion-controlled pumps can fit on an array of food containers like various sized buckets, food pans, vegetable insets and more. When homemade or purchased condiments get poured into food pans in prep lines, adding a stainless steel pump to portion out exact amounts eliminates the guesswork that ladling and squeeze bottles can create - and let's not forget the time saved by not filling squeeze bottles.
Server's up-and-coming handheld, portion-controlled dispensing technology, the ProPortion™, can also speed assembly time for to-go wraps, tacos, burritos and more. Rather than scooping sour cream or chipotle sauce out with a disher or knife and spreading it over the whole burrito, just squeeze the dispenser's trigger and drizzle from one end to the other – much less hassle when you have tickets building up. This also ensures each wrap gets the proper amount of hot sauce, mayo or dressing as opposed to using non-regulated squeeze bottles.
With minimum wages on the rise, as well as operating costs in general, finding even the smallest ways to save a few dollars can add up over time.
Giving away condiments that are unaccounted for - even if it's a half ounce here, a half ounce there - can add up over the course of a day. The perfect example: tossing a handful of portion packets into a to-go bag, which has been taboo for years but often still happens.
Look at salads, for instance. Salads are one of the most popular takeout foods - just look at college grab-and-go kiosks and the health-focused LSRs. When you're in a hurry prepping premade items so you can work the grill during the lunch rush, those perfect pours of salad dressings become three-quarter pours, half pours, and sometimes they're even over-poured, leaving a mess on the counter.
Many salad dressings come in bulk pouches. What's even better: pouches with fitments (see our sample list of food manufacturers offering fitmented pouches). Pouched product pumps like the Express™ draw directly from the pouch, and the vacuum created ensures the least amount of food product is left behind.
Create an assembly station by filling a row of soufflé cups and snapping all lids on before setting them in a premade salad container and displaying them to customers. Your pumps will keep portions consistent - which controls food costs - and speeds up the time it takes to prep grab-and-go salads - which controls labor costs.
But portion control isn't just about saving money. It's about ensuring you have enough product to meet demands. Inventories are budgeted and fresh condiments are made based on average traffic, and if a few workers divvy out too much of a topping, you could run low before you expect.
Reduce Food Waste
Here's a story from personal experience. At the restaurant I worked at, our one-gallon jugs of salad dressing got poured into iced tea pitchers, and using the pitchers, we'd fill soufflé cups. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong at some point: busy waitresses weren't scraping out the almost-emptied one-gallon jugs to make sure all dressing got into the pitcher, nor were they ensuring they emptied the pitcher before sending it to the dishwasher. And you can bet that, while filling, some soufflé cups were overfilled and pitcher covers occasionally slipped off, leaving the counter covered in quite a bit of salad dressing.
Luckily, the brand of dressing we used came in pouches with fitments that connect to Server's Espress™ dispensers mentioned above. The result: much more control over portions, less product thrown away, and a lot less mess.
Offset Single-Use Packaging Waste
Many companies are experimenting with more sustainable options for takeout containers, but unfortunately, they are not yet ubiquitous in the industry.
With delivery's ever-growing popularity, it is inevitable that until these packaging alternatives are successful, we'll have to counter the use of resources in other ways, like reducing food and packaging waste back-of-house.
One way is to seek reusable pumps rather than disposable. Instead of replacing a week-old plastic pump - or several, if you offer a lot of flavors - invest in a reliable, sturdy reusable pump. You may spend a little more time cleaning them, but you won't be throwing dozens of plastic pumps in the trash every week.
1Technomic's 2018 Takeout & Off-Premise Consumer Trend Report