3 Top Ways to Optimize Designated To-Go Stations at Restaurants

    With off-premises business on the rise, it's time to think about the to-go experience.

    Delivery bag handed to a customer.
    Adobe Stock
    If guests are only going to get a glimpse of your restaurant when they walk in to grab their food, make sure it’s a good one.

    It goes without saying that the restaurant industry has drastically changed over the past year and a half. As we’ve seen consumer behaviors shift, restaurants have adapted with the times and focused on serving more to-go, pickup, and delivery orders. By making operational adjustments, restaurants have been challenged with reconsidering their appliance choices to best fit the current consumer climate.

    Off-premises business is here to stay. Delivery and online ordering has grown 300 percent faster than dine-in traffic. It’s important for restaurants to recognize these trends and capitalize on the increasing demand of delivery and takeout to protect their business. According to Upserve, more than half of U.S. consumers order delivery or takeout once a week. Consumers are inclined to order from restaurants that make it convenient for them to pick up their meal. Additionally, 70 percent of consumers say they’d rather order directly from a restaurant, preferring that their money goes straight to the restaurant and not a third party.

    As off-premises orders have skyrocketed, we’ve seen restaurants adapt their spaces to include a designated to-go station to streamline processes and drastically improve the quality control for to-go and delivery orders. And while implementing takeout areas is becoming increasingly common for brands, restaurants have the ability to enhance guests’ to-go experience with a modernized space featuring premium equipment.

    With off-premises business on the rise, here are three ways restaurants can elevate their designated to-go space for a heightened guest experience:

    Ensure all food maintains its proper temperature.

    Efficiency, safety and quality are the top priorities for any foodservice operator. With to-go areas, it’s imperative that restaurants keep all food properly warmed and/or cooled not just for customer satisfaction, but for the safety of your guests. A mobile heated cabinet or refrigerated display case will guarantee all orders are stored at the perfect temperature until the guest arrives to pick up an order.

    Invest in permanent custom shelving.

    If guests are only going to get a glimpse of your restaurant when they walk in to grab their food, make sure it’s a good one. Now is the time to get rid of the temporary solutions you’ve been using for your designated to-go space. Customers who place an online order with a restaurant will visit that restaurant 67 percent more frequently than those who don’t. So, investing in permanent fixtures to cater to your online orders will position your business for long-term success. Of course, it's not always easy finding the right equipment for an efficient workplace when you're constrained by the kitchen size and layout. That’s why we construct custom restaurant equipment for challenging spaces to help you maximize performance without compromise. By taking a close look at your unique space, we’re able to design and fully customize a solution that fulfills that specific restaurant’s needs.

    Present your to-go or delivery order like you would to a dine-in guest.

    With consumers spending $769 billion ordering food last year, competition is fierce in the restaurant to-go and delivery space. To make your restaurant’s off-premise process stand out from the rest, ensure your food is just as good at home as it would be for a dine-in customer. Although you may not be serving your food directly to the guest’s table, food presentation is still important because it could be the first time the customer is introduced to your brand. In order to make a great first impression, restaurants’ to-go and delivery orders must transfer well, so guests open them with a clean presentation. With high-quality food and beverage carriers, restaurants can hold a variety of food pan sizes and keep their orders upright and in the freshest condition.

    To build your brand as a leader in the to-go and delivery space, restaurants have to establish what kind of experience they want to create for their current and future customers. No matter how your fans choose to order, their experience will always be what shapes a successful concept. So, put the guest at the center of your to-go and delivery process with an elevated designated pickup area and your restaurant will be set up for success today and beyond!

    Trinity Hall serves as President of Stanford Sonoma Corporation and its subsidiary company Online Restaurant Supplies by Stanford Sonoma. With over 30 years of experience in operations, design and construction, Hall leads the charge for all product innovation and oversees the design and construction of all Stanford Sonoma Corporation projects internationally. Additionally, Hall has experience in contract negotiation and sourcing, as well as 10 years in an SVP role leading franchise sales for Dickey's Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. Since 2011, Hall has managed the opening of more than 500 Dickey's locations across the nation, and continues to manage the international expansion efforts of Dickey's Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. through Stanford Sonoma. Under Hall's leadership, Stanford Sonoma has expanded its customer base to include notable restaurant chains such as Zalat, 151 Coffee, First Watch, HTeaO and more.