Blount Creamed Corn

How Rethinking Offerings Can Improve Food Quality For Delivery

These tips and tricks ensure take out tastes as good as the plated version. 

Food delivery to homes and offices is the fastest-growing segment of the restaurant industry, withe sales expected to reach $58 billion by 2020, according to a recent report by Datassential. On average, consumers purchase food for off-premises dining more than 5 times each month.

It’s a big business, with a lot of growth potential for full-service restaurants that get on board. However, it can be a challenge for chefs and operators to develop offerings that hold up against packaging and transport. Finding ways to take menu items intended for plating and eating in-house into the delivery era means rethinking the food itself.

Here, we speak to Jeff Wirtz, corporate executive chef for Blount Fine Foods, about how to ensure food quality despite the risks of travel—and why changing out certain side items could be the key to winning delivery.

What are the challenges that full-service operators face when menuing items for delivery?

The rapid growth of off-premises dining has created several major challenges for operators, including food quality and temperature issues and timely delivery of orders.

That said, the delivery segment represents an estimated 7 percent of all restaurant sales, and that figure is estimated to grow to 14 percent within the next few years. So it’s really critical for restaurants to adopt delivery solutions, despite the perceived challenges.

What are some of the ways that chefs or operators can ensure food quality with delivered orders?

Off-premises dining is a huge convenience for customers, and they expect that their favorite brands will offer some kind of food delivery service—but they also have every expectation that restaurants will deliver the same quality food as what they would enjoy during a dine-in experience.

The first step to ensuring customer happiness is offering a good variety of products that can be produced quickly. For some operators, this might mean revisiting menu offerings and ensuring they can meet the demands of delivery from the food up. For example, nobody wants to receive their delivery order and open the bag to find soggy fries. Since the average delivery time for off-premises orders is 30 minutes, you have to offer sides that can make the trip.

What are some of the best sides that operators can offer for delivery orders?

Unlike a lot of foods, which can lose quality during a car ride, soups and side dishes can travel well and hold their flavor and temperature better due to their viscosity—as long as they have the right packaging. For example, creamed corn with bacon or broccoli rabe with white beans are dense foods that will maintain their temperature and texture during transport. Chili, chickpeas, and riced cauliflower are other good options.

If operators are implementing these kinds of offerings on their menu, they’ll be better prepared to meet delivery demands and can relax knowing there’s less likelihood for customer complaints due to cold or soggy food. At Blount, we see a lot of restaurant operators and chefs who are now offering a wide variety of soups and side dishes on their delivery menus, and they’re seeing success with those all year long.