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

The University of Maryland will begin offering weekly specials at all of its dining halls this semester, The Diamond Back reports.

The weekday specials will allow Dining Services to offer past menu items that students miss as well as new dishes students have been requesting, according to a spokesperson.

Students can find out which specials are being offered each week via dining hall table tents as well as through Dining Services’ social media. During select weeks, the specials may reflect a particular theme, such as Taste of the South.

Read the full story via...

Menu Development
chicken tetrazzini bowl

The No Whey station in the main dining hall at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga., offers students meals that are free of the eight most common allergens. When Brittany Parham, the dietitian who oversees the station, polled food-sensitive students on which favorites they missed most, “comfort foods” was the overwhelming response. Parham, who herself has food allergies, worked with chefs on the 20,000-student campus to focus on allergen-free versions of pasta bakes, biscuits, banana bread and other down-home dishes. Recently, the chefs reworked the school’s traditional chicken...

Ideas and Innovation
university chicago medical center renovation workers

As The University of Chicago Medical Center prepared for the revamp of one of its kitchens to feed an additional 202 patients, it wasn’t just foodservice executives coming to the table to make decisions. The process, which began in fall 2014, involved hourly employees from the ground up, says Daryl Wilkerson, vice president of support services. “They actually helped build this [kitchen], which is why I think this is so spectacular,” he says. “Normally what you’ll get in a lot of projects is senior people sitting around in shirts and ties making decisions.”

The hospital follows the...

Ideas and Innovation
idea bulb innovation concept

There’s no feeling quite like the “spark of inspiration” that Dawn Aubrey , associate director of housing for dining services at the University of Illinois, cites in this month’s Steal This Idea-themed cover story. That rush of blood and endorphins to the brain when everything comes together is like nothing else, and often finds me falling over furniture because I’m so excited to start putting plans into action. Unfortunately, I also bruise easily.

Throughout this issue, we’ve highlighted stealable ideas in all realms of noncommercial foodservice, from protein-focused sides to...

FSD Resources