Rethink Your Approach to Delivered

March 2020 · Chef John Reed, CEC, CCA

With the ability to operate foodservice in this current environment requires more than an adjustment to re-train staff on new roles, re-tool the kitchen and navigating the challenges of on-line ordering. The biggest impact on the operation is how relevant your menu becomes the longer social distancing continues.


For many households, prior to “shelter in place”, ordering from their favorite restaurant was a treat or something based purely on convenience influenced by busy lives and tight schedules. That has changed, we have plenty of time on our hands. Like anything, we can become easily board with the same items especially if we are ordering out more frequently. Customers have the opportunity to do the research and take a lot more time to decide on where they are going to place their order. You need to get your menu on the top of that list.  Caterers are best suited to meet these challenges as this is our business.


They are plenty of choices, however you don’t want to be a one-time compassionate choice, but one based on the quality, value and excitement of the menu you are offering. Operators will need to rethink how we operate over the long term, however making decisions now will help that. This is the opportunity to build a sustainable portion of your business.


The current cry from the industry is to survive and keep the doors open. That means doing what you can and prevent as much loss as possible and operate efficiently. Your goal needs to be break-even and if you are lucky a little more to the bottom to build up the bank when we get back to normal.


Here are some menu engineering tips and some practices to help you move forward and ensure that your loyal customers keep ordering and move up the “our favorites” list


The Menu

  • Reduce the number of custom cut proteins than need to be cooked to temp
  • Butcher your own and utilize the trim differently such as stocks, forcemeats, braises for savory pastries
  • Engineer the menus utilizing a smaller list of fresh ingredients up and down the menu
  • Write daily options based on delivery schedules and product availability
  • Add some build your own options which make the meal interactive
  • Focus on items that hold well for delivery


Social Media

  • Use Social Media, Online Ordering Platforms, Website to promote options
  • Establish delivery zones to reduce time of delivery to a location which could be cost prohibitive
  • Update regularly
  • Follow-up with customers for feedback and their menu suggestions


Safety and Sanitation

  • Focus on item that can be heated quickly using available equipment such as Microwaves, Rapid Cook Units, Combi Ovens, Double Sided Grills
  • Shorten service hours for peak times and eliminate potential drop in gaps between traditional meal service to hot holding times for prepared items such as
    • Soup, chili, mashed potatoes, refried beans etc
  • Send reheating instructions will all orders
  • If you have blast chillers, considering offering ready to cook meals that don’t require hot holding delivery capabilities



There many ways to approach this. I have some suggestions and menu engineering examples on our website and will be adding more on a regular basis.


If you are looking for help please feel free to reach out and we tell you what we know.


We are in this together as an industry



John Reed
Chef John Reed, CEC, CCA
John Reed is a professional chef with over 30 years experience. John has extensive knowledge of culinary techniques, ethnic cuisines, food history and more!

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