Flexible restaurant operators converted quickly from eat-in to takeout during the COVID-19 pandemic. And whether they’re fine dining, QSR or casual eating establishments, they’re finding it’s not as hard as you may think to revamp an eat-in operation. Also, according to infectious disease specialist Isaac Bogoch, the risk of contracting the virus from takeout & delivery is “so extraordinarily small” — good news for consumers and restaurant operators alike.
Still, perfect takeout & delivery are not a matter of just putting food into any old containers and hoping it makes the journey in one piece.
You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to foodservice, your takeout packaging had better hold up to scrutiny. More importantly, your takeout packaging has to stand up to delivery… and still look appetizing when it reaches its destination.
“With takeout, the customer is in control of when that food is consumed,” says John Veder, director of innovation – paper for Novolex North America. “For delivery, the customer is at home, waiting. Their expectation is that the food is ready to eat. Not soggy. Not cold.”
Must Have: The right packaging for the food being delivered
When food is delivered, customers see the packaging first, and they eat with their eyes. Is it clean, neat and tidy? You need to make a great first impression otherwise customers may not go to you for takeout again. That’s why Veder suggests ensuring the packaging is correct for the application in terms of size and material. “The packaging a french fry requires for travel is different than a pasta dish. And packaging will also depend on the miles or time it needs to travel.”
Must Have: Packaging designed specifically for foodservice
No one likes to pick up or receive soggy, leaking, messy or unattractive food packages. Companies like W. Ralston, Novolex and Polar Pak, a Novolex brand, feature packaging specifically for foodservice operations that include takeout & delivery, and also packaging that’s size-appropriate.
Must Have: Customizable packaging
Consider customizing your existing menu specifically for delivery, Veder advises.
Novolex’s innovation is driven by providing solutions to delivery (and takeout) packaging needs, offering a wide range of options with thermal properties, moisture resistance, visual appeal, and security. “Our load and fold bag offers functionality in terms of transport but also that tamper evident feature where a branded sticker could be added to give your customer peace of mind.”
Must Have: Meal-in-a-package ease of use
Many of your guests turned to takeout & delivery because they couldn’t enjoy the eat-in experience at your restaurant. A winning strategy to keep your food — and your brand — front of mind is a mealkit approach to takeout & delivery. When they open the packaging at home, their order should as closely as possible resemble a restaurant meal you might serve. Attractively presented, appetizing, clean (as in, no drips or sogginess) — food that’s ready to eat and that leaves your customers with good feelings and continued loyalty.
About the Authors
JANE AUSTER & CHERIE THOMPSON
Jane Auster is the editor of ChefConnexion.com. She has been a foodservice writer and editor for more than 30 years. Jane was the editor of Your Foodservice Manager, a national magazine for professionals in the foodservice and hospitality industry in Canada, and FoodBiz.ca digital site. She was also editorial consultant and managing editor for the relaunch of Flavours magazine.
Cherie Thompson understands foodservice from field to fork. A B.Sc. in Agriculture and experience in quality control, food science, product development, recipe development/editing, customer service, and teaching as well as owning and operating two independent foodservice operations have given her a unique perspective on the food industry.