There’s no denying that food delivery is on the rise. For the past 20 years, consumers have been eating at home more and more, according to Scott Rosenberg, director of marketing and customer service for Unibake. First, this was due to post-9/11 “nesting” and continued as a result of the recession which began in 2008. Now that the economy has recovered, customers are still eating at home, but they are opting for delivered meals from restaurants.
“In a short period, we’ve had a large number of demographic and technological changes that reinforce people’s habit of eating in,” Rosenberg says. “Baby boomers are retiring, and there’s been an explosion of options for streaming movies at home.”
Delivery, which will hit nearly $2 billion in traffic this year, accounts for approximately 44 percent of all orders and is the fastest growing portion of full service restaurant sales, according to data from TDn2K.
“This is the new norm,” Rosenberg says. “Full service restaurants should treat delivery as an opportunity.”
In the age of off-premises dining, many restaurateurs are concerned about meeting the demand for delivery while still ensuring consistency and quality—because chefs have less control over the transport of dishes, there is a risk food will arrive to the customer in an unsatisfactory condition. Attention to detail is therefore critical. Rosenberg recommends using the same level of care that is put into the in-house dining experience on the delivered-food experience.
“What ingredients will travel best, and how will you prepare and package your food in order to deliver the best brand experience to your customer?” Rosenberg says.
When it comes to delivering burgers from a full-service restaurant, the main challenge is ensuring the product quality doesn’t deteriorate and the construction of the food itself does not collapse during transport from the restaurant’s kitchen to the customer’s home.
“You have to make sure everything on your delivery menu is available in a delivery-friendly format,” Rosenberg says. “Oftentimes, by the time a burger is delivered, the lettuce is limp, the bottom bun is a soggy mess from all the juices on the meat, and then the whole thing falls apart.”
Many successful operators have found success with a line of buns from Euro-Bake. Because they are baked free-form in a hearth oven, rather than in a pan, Euro-Bake buns have a better-formed crust—which can withstand burger juices and not fall apart—and are still soft in the middle. This provides a better base for burgers, especially those which may not be delivered to the customer’s home for 30-90 minutes after plating.
“You can’t always plate a menu item for delivery the same way you would plate it in-house,” Rosenberg says. “It makes sense to pare back your delivery menu to those items that can support the trip home.”