2008 Portability Study: Portability rules

Seventy-five percent of operators are looking to grow their grab-and-go business.

Portability, or grab and go, is on the rise, with many customers choosing to take away nontraditional to-go items, like made-to-order dishes, according to FoodService Director's 2008 Portability Study. The study shows that almost nothing is off-limits these days when it comes to grab and go, but operators are still struggling with packaging issues.

At the University of Missouri in Columbia, Campus Dining offers take-out locations in six residential units, including a new facility called Baja Grill. Julaine Kiehn, director of Campus Dining at the 30,000-student university, says demand for takeout has been increasing steadily during the past seven or eight years, and the department has responded.

“There are seats for students to eat at the location, but everything is wrapped for takeout,” explains Kiehn. Operators like Kiehn, answering customer demand, pushed up the numbers in FSD’s 2008 Portability Study. Of the operators surveyed this year, 75% said they offer portable menu items, up markedly from 62% last year. B&I operators led the way again, with every operator polled saying portable foods were offered in their locations. Ninety-one percent of hospitals offer portable foods, as do 87% of colleges and universities and 66% of schools.

The numbers aren’t surprising in today’s fast-paced world, but they are paradoxical. Even though more customers than ever are looking for foods made-to-order, a significant number of them also want to be able to carry those foods away from the cafeteria. Kiehn, for example, notes that in addition to the dedicated takeout locations on campus, there is a portable component to each of the university’s all-you-care-to-eat dining halls.

Catherine Boucher, manager of food and nutrition services at Martha Jefferson Hospital, a 176-bed hospital in Charlottesville, Va., also notes the link between made-to-order and portability. At present, 20% to 25% of the hospital’s staff take food away from the cafeteria. Boucher says she expects that percentage to increase once a new hospital is completed in 2011, precisely because made-to-order will be a primary component of the new cafeteria.

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
WinCup foam food containers

From WinCup.

Cost control.

Two little words that are essential to every foodservice director’s day-to-day activities.

Keeping costs in check is paramount in running a functioning food operation, of course. But the ripples of cost control can extend beyond your bottom line. And savvy directors must balance customer satisfaction on the P&L sheet.

Fiscal Responsibility

The foundation of cost control is accepting fiscal responsibility, which requires a solid understanding of foodservice accounting. Prime cost, the combined cost of food and labor, is an...

Industry News & Opinion

Orange County Community College in upstate New York is replacing its dining staff with vending machines , The Times Herald-Record reports.

The staff members, who will be let go in June, include nine full-time and three part-time workers. Students say they will miss the employees and the access to fresh food.

The Orange County Community College Association, which oversees the school’s cafeterias, says the layoffs were partly due to a $150,000 deficit accumulated by foodservice operations last year.

Read the full story via The Times Herald-Record .

Industry News & Opinion

Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, is eliminating paper cups in its Commons dining hall and has given each student a reusable stainless steel mug as a replacement, bates.edu reports.

The mugs were distributed via a promotion earlier this week where students could fill their new mugs with a free smoothie. Stickers and other trinkets were set out for students to use to “bling” their mugs.

Dining services turned to students to determine which type of mug would be offered. The college also installed a mug-washing sink in the dining Commons earlier this year.

Read the...

Industry News & Opinion

Compass has partnered with Jose Andres ’ ThinkFoodGroup, allowing the chef and foodservice vendor to collaborate at such venues as stadiums and college campuses.

“With this partnership, we have the opportunity to tell stories and connect with people through food on an entirely new level,” Andres said in a release.

The three-year team-up comes shortly after Andres opened a ThinkFoodLab pop-up in Washington, D.C., which will serve as a recipe R&D space for his restaurant group.

ThinkFoodGroup was this year named a Power 20 multiconcept operator by Restaurant...

FSD Resources