2007 Portability Study: Portability on the menu

Portability continues to be a big part of most foodservice operators’ business, according to the 2007 FoodService Director Study on Portability.

On the noncommercial side, portability appears to have its strongest hold in corporate dining. Every B&I operator in the FSD survey indicated that they offer portable items. What’s more, these operators said that, on average, take-away business accounts for more than 30% of their overall revenue—more than six percentage points higher than the survey average of 24%.

“I think time constraints have a lot to do with the increase,” says Damian Monticello, foodservice liaison for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, in Tallahassee. “Our customers don’t have a lot of time to eat. They are taking food back to their desks so they can continue working, and we try to accommodate them in any way we can.”

But portability is a major component in most segments of the industry, with the exception of long-term care. More than 90% of colleges, 81% of hospitals and 54% of schools offer take-away items, while only 22% of long-term care facilities do. It also accounts for roughly one-quarter of the revenue stream, with hospitals reporting 25%, colleges 24% and schools crediting 23% of their revenue from take-away.

Portable business is a relatively labor-efficient form of service, according to the survey, with respondents indicating that they dedicate about two workers on average to handle this aspect of their operations.

Space is a major driver of portability, operators say. Offering foods that are more easily carried allows operators to design smaller footprints and to install foodservice outlets in spaces not usually considered for retail service. At Gannon University, in Erie, Pa., Metz & Associates designed a space called InterMetzo in the Palumbo Academic Building that serves a variety of items from entrées and soups to sandwiches and salads.

General manager Pete Mannarelli says the space has absorbed some of the overflow from a nearby popular dining hall, and has been so successful that the design is being considered for use in other settings, such as hospitals or corporations.

Sometimes, portability can improve business in a facility. Such was the case at the University of Southern Mississippi, where a full-service restaurant called The Power House was converted to a fast-casual concept. With a menu that relies heavily on sandwiches, salads and soups, check averages are down by an average of $2, but customer counts are up by 15%, according to Pat Foley, executive director of dining services for Aramark at the 15,000-student university.

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
eggs

Loyola University Maryland took a new approach to all-day breakfast with an egg-focused concept.

Breakfast options were top of mind for students when asked what they would like to see on the menu at the university’s revamped Boulder Garden Cafe. Instead of creating an all-day breakfast station, however, the Baltimore-based dining team went beyond traditional options and created a concept that services all mealparts with eggs.

“It can be somewhat mundane,” says Executive Chef Don Crowther on why the team strayed away from the trendy all-day breakfast. At the eatery’s Sunny...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Kansas has added a retail pass that allows students to purchase one to-go combo meal per day at cafes and markets on campus, the University Daily Kansan reports.

The pass is available on two different meal plans and is geared toward on-the-go students who don’t have the time to sit down and eat at a residence hall.

“It has increased the participation rate,” Jamie Reed, a service assistant for the school’s dining services, told the University Daily Kansan.

Over 1,800 students have used the pass since its debut at the beginning of the semester....

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Minnesota dining team has created a vegan student group in an effort to improve the school’s vegan offerings, Minnesota Daily reports.

The group was created by the school’s foodservice vendor, Aramark, and its campus sustainability coordinator, who is vegan, after receiving numerous complaints from students about the lack of vegan options on campus.

The group will this week host its first meeting, during which members will be able to share feedback and provide solutions to help enhance the school’s vegan offerings. Members will also keep a photo journal...

Industry News & Opinion

Panera Bread Co. announced today that it intends to buy the Au Bon Pain brand as a way of opening more bakery-cafes in colleges, healthcare facilities, office buildings, travel centers and malls.

Au Bon Pain, which was Panera’s sole business under an earlier incarnation of the company, consists of 304 bakery-cafes. Several units are located in noncommercial venues.

Panera owns or holds the franchise rights to about 2,050 restaurants, few of which are located outside of strip malls.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Immediately after the deal was...

FSD Resources