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

Sponsored Content
green smoothie

From DanoneWave Away From Home.

Not so long ago, finding non-dairy milk in a supermarket dairy case was a challenge. But these days, that aisle is bursting with plant-based beverage choices—cow’s milk alternatives crafted from soybeans, nuts, grains or coconut, as consumer demand for these beverages has grown exponentially. According to Euromonitor, worldwide sales of non-dairy milk alternatives more than doubled between 2009 and 2015.

Millennials and Gen Zers, many of them already accustomed to drinking dairy alternatives at home, expect to see some of those same choices...

Industry News & Opinion

George Washington University in Washington, D.C., is adding an additional $200 in dining dollars to each student's dining plan this fall, The GW Hatchet reports.

The boost comes just a year after the university switched to an open-format dining plan that allows students to spend their entire meal fund off campus; allowed venues include about 90 grocery stores and restaurants.

While students support the new plan, they are concerned about dining affordability. In conjunction with discounted meal deals that were implemented last semester, school officials hope the extra $200...

Ideas and Innovation
french press

While a French press isn’t a tool found in most noncommercial kitchens, operators might want to think twice about multiple uses for this fancy coffee maker. Staff at the Hard Rock Cafe are using the French press to muddle fruit and alcohol for their mixed drinks, while at Chicago bar Moneygun, bartenders use a French press to blend spices and tea for hot toddys.

Ideas and Innovation
student food tray

Stories of students who can’t pay for lunch being given a subpar meal or shamed for their debt have proliferated in recent years, and it’s not an uncommon problem. The SNA’s 2016 School Nutrition Operations Report found that about three-quarters of school districts had an unpaid student meal debt at the end of last school year, an increase from 71% of districts reporting debt in 2014.

Government has begun to take action. In April, the USDA issued new regulations mandating that schools implement unpaid meal policies by the start of the 2017-18 school year and clarifying that schools...

FSD Resources