Adding To-Go Orders to Your Restaurant Business


Curbside Pickup. Carryout. Takeout. To Go.  Regardless of what you call it, the concept of picking up your meal and consuming it in the comfort of your own home has provided today’s restaurateurs with an added revenue stream. Customers are looking for restaurant options that extend beyond the typical dine-in experience, and the modern carryout meal does just that. No longer is the “to-go” option reserved for the neighborhood pizza shop and the popular Chinese joint; well-known chains and full-scale dining establishments are incorporating dine-in/carryout alternatives.



However, running a successful carryout business on top of your normal foodservice operation involves more than just tossing your prized cuisine into a Styrofoam container and sending it out the door.  While providing takeout services may present new opportunities in terms of growing your menu and reaching different demographics, there are also new opportunities for things to go awry. From accurate order entry to proper packaging, there are a lot of aspects you’ll need to consider before promoting your takeout availability.

An article written for Food Service Warehouse pinpoints several critical components of a successful takeout operation, including appropriate ordering methods and order accuracy. For instance, will you accept to-go orders via the phone, an online ordering site or a mobile ordering app? There are pros and cons to all three selections, so you should definitely take some time to consider which one makes the most sense for your specific business. Maybe your restaurant is already utilizing a website or mobile application that allows your customers to place orders in advance, or maybe it is more fitting to receive takeout requests by telephone. Whichever approach you choose, you’ll want to ensure that you inform your customers and that your employees are trained to handle varying order types.

Depending on your staffing needs and the setup of your restaurant, different employees may need to help with your takeout process. For example, your hostess may be the one responsible for answering phone calls, taking customer orders for pickup and then relaying those orders to the bar or kitchen for fulfillment. Some establishments, on the other hand, may have a cashier who is able to directly enter to-go orders into the POS system. Either way, it’s important to make sure that your employees are familiar with your takeout menu, the ordering process and related point-of-sale functions.

To keep things running smoothly, here are a few tips:

  • Always take note of customer contact information (name and phone number) in case order specifications need to be clarified.
  • Make sure employees are quoting customers on accurate pickup times. 15-20 minutes is usually pretty standard, but if the kitchen is slammed or the order is overly complicated, prep times may be longer.
  • Opting to order food to-go is not equivalent to accepting a lower quality product. Monitor to-go meals in terms of quality, and if possible, keep completed orders under a heat lamp until the customer arrives.
  • Don’t make things difficult for your customer by being sloppy when packaging to-go orders.  Encourage employees to fit meals neatly into their appropriate containers, and always include utensils and napkins.

With sufficient planning, careful implementation and adequate management, adding a carryout component to your restaurant can bring value to your business. Just remember not to let your core dining concept fall to the wayside in the process!


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