3 stealable ideas for grab-and-go counters
Set to open this week in downtown Chicago, Revival Food Hall had one requirement for all of its operators: They had to be totally different from one another. Unlike the Italian- or Hispanic-theme food halls, Revival set out to capture a wide swath of diners—in an area with very high lunch traffic—by compiling a list of stalls that range from tacos and toasts to barbecue and poke. During a preview of the hall, operators showed off some ideas that resonate beyond restaurants to any foodservice operation trying to serve the grab-and-go crowd in a rush.
1. Recycled napkin holders
Instead of the traditional metal dispensers, Antique Taco Chiquito uses recycled cardboard produce cartons to offer up napkins. The look was both casual and eco-friendly; plus, it made grabbing napkins easy for guests in line. One consideration, though: The taco stall made sure to use only the clean, sturdy containers that were in the best shape. Fortunately, they are easy to replace when one carton gets worn down.
2. Mix-and-match menu
At its walk-up counter inside the food hall, fast casual Brown Bag Seafood offers up a mix and match-style menu, explained on its menu board in two steps, using fun, casual language to further its laid-back vibe. Step one: “Gimme Dis,” where guests choose from a grain box, veggie box or “power” box made from a half grain-half veggie mix. Step two: “With Dat On Tap,” with options such as a grilled daily catch, salmon teriyaki, crispy shrimp, fish bites or grilled chicken—each at a different price point. Guests get to build the exact meal they want for that customized feel, without needing the space for a customer-facing assembly line.
3. Pastry by the inch
At RCB Bakery, run by James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Mindy Segal, bar-style cookies are offered by the inch instead of by the piece. The sweets sell for $3 per inch, so diners can order the exact amount they want, whether it’s a quick one-inch treat on the way out (RCB is located near one of Revival’s doors) or several inches for a larger sweet tooth.