Off-premise, anyone?

The recession has caused more people to entertain at home, according to Technomic.

There was good news and bad news for non-commercial foodservice operators in a couple of recent report from restaurant industry analysts. Technomic Inc., the Chicago-based restaurant research company, noted that the recession has caused more people to entertain at home rather than out at restaurants and catering halls.

Technomic's “POP: Parties Off Premise” report stated that 36% of consumers say they are entertaining at home more often than a year ago. According to Technomic, 53% of respondents say they bought platters and other prepared foods for Independence Day celebrations. In addition, 40% say they expect to do more at-home parties in the coming year.

“Catering is one of the strongest segments of the foodservice industry and appears somewhat immune from recessionary spending cuts,” one recent newspaper article quoted a Technomic analyst.

This is potentially great news for foodservice operators. Even as departments within their institutions and companies may have reduced the size and frequency of catered functions, operators can either create or expand upon this aspect of their catering operations.

If you do not already offer take-home platters or other off-premise services to the employees in your hospitals, schools, corporations and colleges, now would seem to be an excellent time to start. If you already do, be prepared to ramp up your marketing efforts.

But I wouldn’t wait too long, if I were an operator. NPD Group Inc. recently reported that current economic conditions forced the closure of 4,000 restaurants between April 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009. No doubt this is fall-out from the fact that people are dining out less frequently than in recent years.

Those restaurants that want to continue to outlast this recession will be looking to go after customers wherever they may be—including taking food to them, and not just a couple of meals at a time. In fact, many of them already are.

Noncommercial operators, particularly in smaller cities where commuting is quicker and less stressful, have the ability to compete with restaurants in terms of off-premise catering. But it will take some strong marketing efforts in order to make your catering departments’ names top of mind.

Still, think of the pride of your foodservice employees when customers can brag to their party guests something like, “It’s not delivery, it’s de hospital’s.”

Keywords: 
news

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

In an effort to reduce turnover, lunchroom supervisors at elementary schools in a Chicago-area district will see an increase in pay at the start of the new school year, the Chicago Tribune reports .

The board of education for Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 on Aug. 8 approved a proposal to increase wages for those supervisors, boosting starting pay from from $12 to $14 an hour. Returning employees who already earn above the new rate will see an hourly increase of 2%.

Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Joel Martin said he hopes the increased wages will allow...

Ideas and Innovation
coffee shop trailor graphic

A familiar face is coming to the roads of Rutgers University this fall: the Starbucks mermaid. The New Brunswick, N.J.-based school is testing a Starbucks truck throughout the upcoming semester, NJ.com reports . The company began testing trucks on college campuses in 2014, and now has mobile locations at Arizona State University, James Madison University in Virginia, East Carolina University in North Carolina and Sacramento State in California.

The trucks will serve the full lineup of Starbucks beverages that’s available at the outlet’s brick-and-mortar location at Rutgers,...

Industry News & Opinion

A study from Virginia Tech has found a connection between school meal participation and obesity in students. From data that predates the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act , the findings raise questions over whether nutrition standards go far enough.

The research evaluated data from 1998 to 2007, comparing first through eighth grade students who partook in free and reduced-price lunch and those who qualified but opted out. Wen You, associate professor in the Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics at Virginia Tech, says she expected to validate theories that increased breakfast...

Industry News & Opinion

Buffalo Public Schools is turning to local chefs and a little competition to help create new menu items, the Buffalo News reports .

In October, local chefs will compete against each other and a team of seven to 10 students led by chef Bobby Anderson, a former contestant on “Hell’s Kitchen,” to create lunch recipes that comply with USDA nutritional requirements and use seasonal produce sourced locally.

“This Chef Challenge is another way to engage our youth in a fun, friendly competition with local area chefs who can help create appealing recipes that will be incorporated...

FSD Resources