With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the foodservice industry hard, many restaurant owners are starting to cater their services towards takeout and delivery. What was once a small segment of their business has now become the focal point of their operations due to social distancing measures and lockdown restrictions. As such, many restaurant owners are embracing this new opportunity to level up their takeaway services to further meet the growing demands of their consumers.
Food delivery apps like Menulog, Uber Eats, and Deliveroo makes it easier for customers to eat meals from their favourite restaurants without leaving their homes. As the need for off-business skyrockets, the pressure is on for existing infrastructure to keep up. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are a few guidelines that restaurant owners can follow to ensure their takeout and delivery services are smooth, efficient, and are up to the challenge. Here’s how you can design your restaurant to cater to takeout and delivery services.
Separate dine-in from takeout
As lockdown restrictions relax and restaurants open up at half-capacity, separating dine-in from takeout is a good idea to help facilitate operations. The challenge is to practice social distancing measures while still accommodating a set number of guests and this can be done by dedicating a pickup area for orders. Simple solutions like half walls or transparent acrylics are effective at demarcating dine-in from takeout. Just hang a “pickup and deliveries” sign and your customers will know where to pick up their orders.
If your restaurant has a second or third floor, you can maximise those spaces by offering dine-in at the second level and takeaway on the first floor. You can also set up a waiting area inside the restaurant with built-in banquettes to accommodate go-to orders. Guests can request for appetisers and drinks while in this area which is great for funnelling in-house orders to your restaurant.
Stage delivery orders
One space modification that can prove valuable for take-out is by adding heated shelves near the delivery area. Here, the orders are held to a warm temperature right until they’re ready for delivery, thus ensuring the customers receive a hearty meal. The orders are placed in high-quality plastic containers to maintain proper temperatures which are then bagged and tagged before being placed in the shelves.
Other staging options include building a walled-off area right next to the kitchen which is exclusively for delivery. The foods are stacked in warmers while they await delivery drivers and right behind the beverage counter is an area where a point-of-sales system is located to receive orders. The walls are there to separate the acoustics between the front dining space and the delivery area to help keep everything discreet as the delivery drivers quietly exit the back door.
Rent a ghost kitchen
A ghost kitchen is a dedicated kitchen where cooks prepare food solely for takeout and delivery purposes. Many restaurants with high-volume takeaway orders have stared adapting a ghost kitchen to alleviate the stress of operating a pick-up service near the dining area. One example is Uber who operates a pilot program in Paris by renting commercial-grade kitchens for restaurants who sell food thru Uber Eats. If you’re going with this approach, we recommend renting a kitchen space that’s near your existing restaurant to ensure timely delivery and ease of order pickup.
Make adjustments to the kitchen
Considering that takeout and delivery services will be a major focal point for quite some time, making major adjustments to the kitchen can go a long way towards a more streamlined to-go service. Restaurants with open kitchens should designate an area for takeaway orders (preferably near the counter) and add a warming station altogether. The positioning of the latter is vital for efficiency as you want it to be accessible so the staff can easily hand it over to the customer or the delivery driver.
If you’re finding great success with off-premise sales, then dedicating a staff member solely for pickup and delivery is definitely worth it. The staff can use a separate POS system and fulfil orders for every delivery sale.
Balancing profitability and investments
As the demand for delivery services expand, restaurant owners have to evaluate their investment options to support growth. For example, investing in a refrigerator shelf might be an ideal choice for now, but a refrigerator solely for takeout and delivery may prove to be the better long-term solution. While most owners are hesitant in reducing dine-in tables, the move may be justified if the delivery service continues to expand. That extra space can come in quite handy when fulfilling dozens of off-premise orders, especially when the restaurant is open at half-capacity.
There’s no denying that takeout and delivery services are an important part of the foodservice industry and because of the pandemic, their importance has only grown even further. If the delivery business is a strong component of your restaurant, make sure to monitor it closely and be prepared to adjust your establishment’s design accordingly.