As has been heard many times over the last few weeks, the COVID-19 outbreak is not just about health but the economy as well. So many retail food businesses are having to make decisions about how to keep their businesses going until they are able to have dining in happening again.
This logically means that there is an increase in takeaway and delivery.
So what needs to be considered in turning a primarily dine in operation to a full takeaway / delivery business?
- Delivery – you can do it or you can use a third party delivery service
- If doing it yourself, consider – staff skills and licenses, delivery area, what vehicle to use and does it meet food safety and other requirements, what to use to transport the food, how to let your customers know, pricing to allow for the extra costs with the vehicle usage, deals for regulars, how are customers going to order, what to do if something goes wrong
- If using a third party – consider if the costs charged are worth the advantages, they have apps which can be used for ordering and marketing, guaranteed delivery time, no staff or vehicle issues to worry about
- What should be on your take away menu?
- Not every food on a dine in menu is going to work for takeaway / delivery so think about what on your menu will travel and keep it’s heat / cold for around 20 minutes on leaving your place.
- To get your regulars involved and committed to helping your business through this outbreak, ask them what foods from your menu they would like and what other foods you might be able to make for them. Maybe even name that menu item after them and make the whole thing into a way of ensuring that they order every week – this is a simple way of generating some regular income.
- Talk to your staff and regulars and set up a pack of several meals which they can buy and put into their fridge / freezer and heat up during the week – a simple way of once agin generating regular income and helping your self isolating regulars with something yummy.
- Don’t just think about mains and desserts as the only options, consider what snacks and sides you can add in to give variety for your regulars and other customers and extra income for the business.
- With takeaway – consider offering a 10 percent income if the regulars come and pick up the food themselves as a way of supporting them in still having contact with other people whilst maintaining social distancing.
- Packaging is as important as the food
- No matter how good the food is and how good a price it might be, if the containers don’t keep it hot / cold, stop contamination and looking good, people will not come back.
- Paper / Cardboard – good temperature retention, strength and ventilation. Can be good food safety but some potential for issues. If wet can cause problems. Ensure chips are ventilated to ensure crispiness
- Plastic – Strong, OK temperature retention, good food safety, but generally poor ventilation, Best for wet dishes.
- Styrofoam – Great temperature insulation, environmentally controversial and not good for crispy foods.
- Other sustainable materials – depending upon what they are as to the properties.
- What to think about when packing the food
- Put heavier and hot foods at the bottom
- Pack cold foods with cold foods and hot with hot and never in the same bags / containers
- Chips need to be in their own container with space for ventilation to help maintain crispiness
- Seal the packed container with a sticker or staples to show your customers that there has been no tampering after leaving your place
Food safety still matters