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.

“The menu is still upscale, but the items are things that can be prepared quickly,” says Foley.

Enhancing portability was on the minds of executives of Eurest Dining Services, a division of Compass Group, when they took a coffee bar and converted it to a full-fledged cafeteria. Caffe Ritazza debuted last year on the ground floor of the SunTrust bank in Orlando, Fla., and features entrées, specialty sandwiches and salads, soups and desserts. Dan Cramer, first vice president and corporate dining manager for SunTrust, called the conversion “the best utilization of space,” and a way to provide customers with a wide variety of items that can be picked up quickly and eaten in or taken away.

Operators say that when it comes to take-out foods, just about anything that can be put in a container can, and is, taken away from the cafeteria. Fresh-made tends to be more popular than pre-packaged, according to the survey, with entrees off the serving line accounting for 21% of the total take-out business, on average, and deli sandwiches making up another 15%. Pre-wrapped sandwiches represent another 15%, while ready-to-go entrees in refrigerated cases are less than 5% of the total.

Lunch foods tend to make up a bigger part of the take-away business than breakfast foods, as only 11% of portable business is in either breakfast to order or pre-packaged breakfast foods. Interestingly, although long-term care facilities do not do much grab-and-go business, those that do see 44% of their business from fresh-made entrees (31%) and sandwiches (13%).

The desire for portability causes operators to consider making popular foods more portable. One example is Aramark’s Corporate Services group, which has created an interesting twist on the panini. According to Scott Keats, director of culinary development for the division, the company simply took panini ingredients and placed them on a smaller ciabatta roll and is marketing it as a “minini.”

Promoting portability plays a relatively minor role in the take-away equation, with fewer than 19% saying they are looking at such ideas as couponing, discounting or e-mail promotions as business builders. College operators are most likely to use promotional gimmicks (30%) and elementary and secondary schools least likely (8%).

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
pho bowl

Achieving authenticity can be tricky. Late last year, Oberlin College landed in the news when students protested the way dining services at the Ohio school was botching ethnic food, serving up inauthentic versions of Asian and Middle Eastern dishes. It’s a challenge other operators are confronting, too, often tapping staff and patrons for inspiration.

At 260-bed Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Scottish Rite, Executive Chef Bradley Czajka, himself of Polish-Ukrainian descent, started Global Stations as a way to recognize the diversity of cultures at the hospital. “We have such an...

Menu Development
sweet pea ravioli

On any given night at the Wake Robin senior living facility in Shelburne, Vt., residents may find spring sweet pea and mascarpone ravioli with white wine cream sauce or acorn squash stuffed with quinoa and cranberries on the menu. These dishes, along with a new sweet-potato burger topped with cilantro aioli, aren’t just delicious, says Director of Dining Services Kathy King. They’re also completely vegetarian.

The popularity of Meatless Mondays and the growing number of people who call themselves “flexitarians” have impacted menu development in every noncommercial sector. Although...

Managing Your Business
umass amherst food

Restaurateurs in Amherst, Mass., aren’t happy with UMass Dining .

Registered dietitian Dianne Sutherland told local NBC affiliate WWLP News in May that the high quality of food served on campus means students aren’t visiting neighborhood eateries as frequently as those businesses might like.

“Even our vendors who we work with, they get complaints from the restaurants that students are staying on campus,” she said. “They are already paying for the food; why should they [go] off campus to eat?” More than 19,000 Amherst students are on a meal plan—6,000 of whom live off campus...

Ideas and Innovation
lettuce eat dining

Forced to battle crumbling infrastructure and a constant churn of trends, sometimes the best way to save a foodservice operation is to change it entirely. As Steve Mangan, director of dining at the University of Michigan, puts it, “At some point when your building starts to fail, the cost of maintenance stands out.” But for operators with limited budgets, the challenge is discerning the right time to do so—and how far to take it.

At Jefferson High School, change came because little worked anymore. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, school’s cafeteria hadn’t been updated since 1957; students...

FSD Resources