A restaurant carry-out menu may require a few changes to your standard operating procedures, plus an investment in restaurant equipment that make the process smooth and efficient.
Publish the menu online.
One of the most essential parts of offering a carry out menu is publicity. This can be done by posting the menu to the restaurant social media sites and website. If a website is the main method for publicity, it should be accompanied by a rigorous marketing strategy to promote the site. In addition to earning more business, publicizing the carry out menu also ensures a smooth ordering process because customers can see their options and place an order with minimal questions.
Prep well in advance.
The easiest way to minimize wait times is prep as much as possible in advance. Advance preparation does require proper cold storage. All foods should be kept at a temperature below 40 degrees, because food kept in the “danger zone” (between 40 and 140 degrees) for an extended period of time is susceptible to pathogen growth.
Food should be stored in refrigerated commercial equipment and carefully monitored while stored. All restaurant staff should be trained in proper cold storage and should be able to check food items every two hours. While most commercial refrigerators have built-in temperature monitoring, all food should be checked with a different thermometer. The shelving in the refrigerator should be open and not lined; a food equipment professional can assist with choosing the right commercial refrigeration unit that meets a restaurant’s needs and budget. All refrigerated commercial equipment should be cleaned and sanitized to ensure customer safety. (These food storage and safety tips can also help with the process.)
Keep food warm.
Warm storage is just as important as cold storage, both in terms of food safety and product quality. Bacteria grows rapidly when food is kept in the danger zone, and more rapidly when food is kept above 70 degrees. Food should not be held in temperatures between 40 and 90 degrees for more than two hours. Food should not be kept in temperatures between 90 and 140 degrees for more than an hour.
Hot foods should be kept above 140 degrees, which is why investing in a food warmer is an important investment for restaurants offering carry out. Heated cabinets and forced air holding stations are designed specifically to keep items warm during the prep process or before serving. In some cases, the humidity in a heated cabinet can extend food storage time by hours. (Contact a commercial equipment professional for more information on food warmers.)
Invest in equipment that lessens wait times.
Short wait times are the crux of satisfied customers. Certain equipment can shorten those wait times, such as a pressure fryer. Pressure fryers cook foods at lower temperatures, producing a more flavorful product quickly and efficiently. These fryers are just one of many products that can shorten wait times and improve efficiency; contact a commercial equipment professional about machines (new and reconditioned) that can improve the customer experience and efficiency of the kitchen.