By Andrew Parr
At Best Served we are committed to delivering content that you can watch, listen and read. This piece is the seventh of an eight-part series that is tied directly to Best Served Custom, Ease of Ordering Volume 1, Episode 7 – Does To-Go Packaging Matter. In this series we explore the customers’ perspective by having conversations directly with them. These written stories are reflections of my own experiences and what real customers have shared with us.
Catching everyone up from the first 6 chapters: Each of the last two weekends my wife and I snuggled up on our couch, scrolled social media to explore dinner delivery options, and ordered from local, independent, neighborhood restaurants. We found restaurants that were telling us their story and that had promotions that bring value. We also found restaurants that had some questionable user experiences (UX), clumsy online ordering quirks, and excellence with curbside pick-up. Additionally, we explored why customers use food delivery apps. In this installment we dig into, “Does To-Go Packaging Matter?”
The quick answer is, YES, to-go packaging matters. That being said, we want to look at this topic from present time moving forward, as opposed to looking retrospectively. For the first months of the pandemic, sourcing, ordering and receiving take-out packaging was, for many operators, at least as challenging as obtaining PPE and hand sanitizer. It was not uncommon to order the same food from the same restaurant three times in a row and receive the food in distinctly different packaging each time. Currently, with the knowledge that a significant segment of the take-out and delivery market is here to stay, production has ramped up and product is available for purchase.
As you may recall, Jody and I ordered wings from one of the restaurants. They used the typical brown recyclable box with interlocking flaps to close. In the quest for proper packaging, no one really wants to see that turn into more packaging. These people did it right. They put the celery and carrots on the bottom of the box with the ramekin of bleu cheese, then a folded piece of deli paper, and then the wings on top of that. Since hot air rises, the veggies and dressing stayed cold, and the wings were steaming hot on arrival. Big win!
The panelists on the podcast episode had incredible insight as frequent delivery diners. Packaging that allowed for deconstructed items was a hot topic. Multiple compartments in a single container, so, for example, the burger you order could be quickly assembled upon arrival to prevent limp lettuce and a soggy bun. Using packaging that either allows the food to be reheated in it or easily removed to be reheated is another key to successful packaging. Overall, the sentiment from the Custom(er) panelists is that they want to see packaging that is thoughtful, protective of the environment (recyclable, compostable or even reusable), and to be sure they are taken care of in their dining room at home – which is now an extension of the restaurant’s dining room.
Relationships extend far beyond the four walls of a restaurant and include employees and customers. Best Served is excited to partner with 7Shifts, underwriter of Best Served Custom, whose commitment to employee engagement provides a real time feedback loop, building a strong culture and customer experience.
Andrew Parr, Angry Olive Consulting's Founder, is a restaurant and hospitality industry leader with over 25 years of experience including consulting, project management, restaurant operations and talent acquisition. His education includes a BA in Psychology and History from the University of Wisconsin along with a JD from Hamline University School of Law.
Andrew was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, and currently resides in Denver with his wife Jody and their dog Cooper. Andrew is a Past President of the Board of Directors for the Scleroderma Foundation – Rocky Mountain Chapter.