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Adapting amid coronavirus: Important aspects of takeout business
By Association Staff
This article supplements our article on delivery options during the coronavirus outbreak.
Now that take-out orders are one of the options still allowed under coronavirus restrictions in Washington state, offering take out at your restaurant is especially important.
Restaurants offer take out options that are separate from their regular menu, but thanks to services like Grubhub and Yelp, you can upload a list of options off of your menu that are only available for take out. When you are developing a list of dishes that are available for take out, start with the food that is readily available, easily produced and popular.
There are a few options to consider when deciding how to fulfill customers’ orders. The most common is to have them go right up to the counter, grab a bag full of food and pay. However, restaurants are starting to branch out. Think curbside to-go. Some restaurants are even opening up their drive-thru to customers who have pre-ordered for take out. Just in the vicinity of the Washington Hospitality Association office, a couple of examples come to mind including the 5th on 4th Sandwich Shop1 and Eagan’s Drive-In.2 Both takeout methods work for different situations. If you have ample parking, but lack in lobby space, designating parking spots and bringing the order out might be your best option. While using the drive-thru or lobby may be best for a restaurant with a small parking lot.
While it seems like a small detail, ensuring that you have proper packaging for your food can be make-or-break. If you’re used to serving food on a plate, you might not realize how much grease and oil can leak through a standard take out container. Once it reaches the bag, all bets are off, so it is most important to make sure the container you are putting the food in is tight before you put it in the bag. A foil or plastic wrapper can be helpful as well, but it is not preferable as the only thing between your food and the bag.
If you want to start offering takeout for the first time, this could be your most important step. Converting one of your current wait staff to a dedicated takeout specialist is tricky and will require strict standards. If you are looking to increase take out business without jeopardizing your standard for service, make sure you have employees who are focused on the take out aspect of your business. Make sure they are monitoring wait times and performing quality control and an accuracy check on each order before it is handed over to the customer.
The final step is to make sure customers know about your take out options. As we mentioned in our article showcasing effective use of Facebook ads, features that allow you to target specific types of customers make social media advertising particularly useful. Restaurants can get the word out immediately to former or potential customers that fit the description of your target market.
In summary, restaurateurs who want to offer carry-out options should be smart, careful and innovative. Act fast but don’t rush the details. Create an experience like the one customers have come to expect from the professionals on your staff and in your business.