As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into the summer months, many restaurant operators ponder whether the stringent measures they took in Q1 will in part, become their new normal. In these uncertain times, 42% of diners demand improved food safety measures from restaurants1 and 88% are exclusively taking their meals to go. 2 Although chains have already consolidated their menus to allow for greater efficiency in supporting contactless delivery, the question remains: How can operators optimize BOH convenience to thrive in a long-term To Go environment?
It turns out, pre-portioned products can be a strong solution for quicker, safer service. The expediency of custom batch sizing for pre-cooked noodles or grains, for example, may reduce kitchen prep time by up to 10 minutes per order. For an added benefit – frozen, quick frozen, and RTE offerings aim to increase shelf life and can introduce greater flexibility to the purchasing schedule. With many consumers still working from home, individual portioning supports extended or irregular lunch and dinner hours. In response to the ongoing delivery trend, food manufacturers are also reacting to the new restaurant normal. Some have begun developing pre-portioned noodle and grain items – now blended with custom sauces, and even IQF vegetables. These meal solutions, while largely superfluous for traditional dine-in establishments, may demand more serious consideration in today’s BOH operation. While consumers are excited to be reunited with their favorite restaurants, 59% anticipate a slow return after shelter-in-place restrictions have been lifted. 3 The new normal seems to require creative thought, investment, and attention from restaurant operators – only time will tell.
1 Mintel, April 2020
2 Dataessential, June 2020
3 Dataessential, May 2020