Getting it to go: 2010 Portability Study

Six operators share how they are seeing growth in their take-away business.

Growth Spurt

The growth of grab and go on the campus of Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, is being caused by an irresistible force meeting an immovable object, according to Kirk Rodriguez, associate director for retail sales in the Hospitality Services department of the 20,000-student campus.

“On our campus the enrollment numbers continue to increase, but we’re limited on space for our food outlets,” says Rodriguez. As a result, Hospitality Services has grab-and-go options in 15 locations across campus—“just about everywhere we can, retail-wise,” he notes. The only place grab and go is not available is in the residence halls where traditional meal plans are honored.

“Our grab-and-go business used to be less than 10% of our revenue,” says Rodriguez. “Now, it’s about 25%. Students are telling us with their feet and their concept choices what they’re looking for from our department.”

One example of Texas Tech’s expansion of its grab-and-go program can be found in Sam’s Express, which are located in the five Sam’s Mini-Markets across campus. Rodriguez describes the markets as a cross between a food outlet and a convenience store. Other grab-and-go options can be found at sites like a Quizno’s on campus and a Boar’s Head deli outlet.

“We have a production area where we make up a wide range of menu options,” Rodriguez says. “We’ve altered some traditional items to make them more portable. For example, our club sandwich has become a club wrap for grab and go. We also offer premade ‘value packs’—a sandwich, chips and drink, for a set price.”

Rodriguez explains that cold items such as sandwiches and salads have been the best sellers. “We didn’t do well with hot items like pasta dishes and lasagnas. There were concerns about reheating these items and food safety.”

Grab-and-go options are advertised in Texas Tech’s dining brochure as well as other printed materials, but Rodriguez says Facebook and Twitter have been very popular marketing tools as well. “It’s instant advertising,” he notes. 

More From FoodService Director

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...

Ideas and Innovation
woman sick phone bed

Our employees have paid time off, but if they don’t call in at least one hour before their scheduled shift, their PTO will be docked for the day. We also assign points for unapproved absences. Everyone starts with a freebie, and when they get to 4, then we start the disciplinary action process. When a staff member gets to 10 points, that is grounds for termination.

Ideas and Innovation
app mobile

The capacity of our dining room is 135 guests, and most evenings we serve closer to 160. At times, this led to some residents waiting for a table, especially at peak hours. Our new table management software allows diners to request specific meal times via a mobile app and allows us to space out our service, greatly reducing the wait times and allowing dining staff to prepare each table in advance of their arrival.

Ideas and Innovation
to-go coffee

We have a fixed kiosk that not only sells coffee, but also protein smoothies, grab-and-go reimbursable meals and other a la carte items. We used updated equipment like what is used in Starbucks and incorporated school colors. It is a very popular addition to one of our high schools, and we are planning on expanding it to two additional high schools.

FSD Resources