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Missing out on take-out?

It’s never been easier to enter the take-out market, and no matter what type of food service operation you’re running, it’s about time you explored your options…

There’s no disputing that catering and hospitality is in a state of flux. Over the past 6-7 years the street food market has grown exponentially and the types of food we are being served from makeshift tables and fly-by-night food vans now spans the globe. The convenience and excitement surrounding street food markets works on many levels, not least the fact that a group or party can each select contrasting foods that would not normally be found under one roof, but still sit together and enjoy well executed meals from Bangkok to Bolton.

Mobile phone apps have been instrumental in the growth of small food businesses in recent years. Expanding the reach of a business, without the hassle of logistics, while still giving customers ultimate convenience – and at a time when people are working from laptops at home, in cafes, or while travelling around the world, convenience and flexibility is a commodity worth paying for.

Historically, take-out in the UK has been the remit of Indian and Chinese food, pizzas, kebabs and the classic chippy tea, but that’s changing. Today, you’re as likely to order char kway teow, or Vietnamese pho on a Friday night as you are a Ruby Murray – and take-out is growing midweek too, and outside of the hours you’d normally expect. Perhaps the biggest development in takeout food service operations is lunch. Catering to workers in a new and more exciting way than the sandwich van, or meal deal run to Boots.

Several years ago, entering the lunch delivery market in a city could spell significant investment in staff. Without decent staff, the logistics of taking orders over the phone, as well as managing deliveries at a peak service period might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Today things are different though, with widely used third party delivery services like UberEats and Deliveroo, it’s never been easier to add this string to your bow.

In fact, the popularity of food delivery is so high, that ‘dark kitchens’ are becoming a new type of food operation. These kitchens open on gritty industrial locations, free from
extortionate high street rents, and serve a wealth of customers solely through online delivery services.

As well as joining in with the likes of Deliveroo and Uber Eats, big players like Patty & Bun have started to install take-out windows at their restaurants, capitalising on lines of hungry punters who don’t have the time to sit in and eat, but still want something more exciting than a packaged sandwich. This simple addition also allows these businesses to serve up their gourmet burgers and fries without the time consuming need for table service and sell more food than they would ordinarily be able to when the dining room is full.

Consumer habits are changing, and as more and more diners look for adventurous, wholesome meals, at a place and time that suits them, the take-out landscape is becoming incredibly diverse. As this area of our sector continues to expand, we could soon find that the peak times of business in the restaurant game could change, and adapting to the burgeoning take-out market could ensure you stay on the right side of that curve.


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