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. 

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