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As you look to reopen your restaurant or business after Shelter-in-Place has ended, Cheetah has assembled some advice and helpful links from our industry experts and top customers. Follow this series for real advice, tips and resources

Now that dining out is gradually recovering from its COVID-19 hiatus, restaurants can’t wait to open their doors. But just because eating out is once again permitted doesn’t mean that takeout and delivery are going anywhere. 

If the thought of plating dishes in plastic boxes rather than white porcelain plates gives you the chills, this article is for you. Here are 6 pro tips on how to give your customers a delicious experience and make them go Wow as soon as they open their takeout containers.

 

1. Pick The Right Container

Paper Takeout ContainersIf there’s one thing that can ruin a takeout experiencefor a customer is receiving a soggy mess of a meal. To avoid mushy food, greasy boxes and spillage, package saucy foods like pasta, risotto and dressed salads in poly-lined and leak-proof containers. Prevent dry foods from sliding around by choosing the right size box for each dish and using wraps as a liner for rolls and sandwiches.

 

2. Forget the Garnish

Save your food costs and skip the fancy garnish.  More times than not, the dish will be sitting in a box for nearly 20 min.  A few microgreens or edible flowers are never going to survive, so don’t bother. Plus, the guests’ expectations for “fancy platings” have diminished. Instead, focus on freshness, flavor, and execution.

 

3. Create a Memorable Delivery Experience

Packaging should not only be attractive but also functional. When customers order takeout, they’re not just paying for the food but also for the convenience of eating on the go or in the comfort of their home – without having to cook or do dishes. 

Opt for drink trays that can hold more than one cup and bags that are sturdy, lightweight, and can stand upright so that they are easier to load and carry. A handle at the top is another nice touch.

If you’re serving noodles, for example, it’s better to use packaging that is resealable and microwave and freezer safe, so that the food doesn’t need to be eaten all in one go.

Flat, easy serving and sharing boxes are best for family meals. Or, if you focus on sandwiches, do what Eat&Go did and offer creative packagingaccordion takeout tubes that inch smaller and smaller as you eat. The end result is something that fits in the customer’s pocket.

Finally, unless it’s food intended to eat with your hands, don’t forget to include a cutlery pack.

For more packaging inspiration, check out these 26 examples of convenient takeout kits by TrendHunter.

 

4. Keep Hot and Cold Food Separate

Temperature control is a must. No one likes a cold burger, no matter how good it tastes. The same goes for cold foods like salads or cheese cakes – it’s not appetizing if it wasn’t meant to be warm.

Use insulating packaging like bowls and foil bags to preserve the safety and integrity of your meals. When placing packaged food in delivery bags, keep warm and cold dishes apart as much as possible. Whether you’re training your own delivery staff or using a third party app like Grubhub or DoorDash, make sure they’re using hot and cold bags to keep food at the appropriate temperature.

 

5. Place Sauce on the Side

A few speed bumps and potholes are all it takes to accidentally open delivery food packaging and cause a major mess – both for delivery staff and diners. Reduce the risk of handing over leaky containers to customers by placing all sauces and any other liquids in separate containers (see our great example from One Market Restaurant above). This not only prevents sauces from spilling all over the place, but also enables diners to regulate the amount they put on their food. For an extra sense of security, consider wrapping containers holding anything liquid with plastic wrap.

 

6. Beautiful Food Deserves Beautiful Packaging

Generic boxes don’t tell your brand messages, like the quality of ingredients, and the philosophy of the restaurant. At the very least, get a rubber stamp made with your logo and stamp kraft bags for a finished and branded look. Getting creative and purchasing custom packaging like specialty boxes, printed wraps or colorful napkins can really help grow your brand and business. Fun extras like mints or a note from the chef will also go a long way to ensure a memorable delivery experience.

If there’s one certainty to come of the COVID-19 outbreak it’s that takeout food is here to stay. With the rising standards for high quality out-of-restaurant dining experiences, you need to be prepared to deliver. Before packaging, this means keeping your shelves and fridges filled with all the ingredients you need for a speedy fulfillment of every order. 

Cheetah is an excellent source for all your restaurant’s takeout supplies. The app offers same-day delivery, a rich catalog of fresh and tasty ingredients and easy to make shopping lists. That, together with packaging that ensures functionality, food integrity and value-for-money, is a sure fire way of making it in the delivery sector.

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