The influx in demand for takeout and delivery is forcing operators to act fast to stay competitive. While some hit speed bumps as they adjust, others are approaching delivery systematically. Here's how.
Whether working with a branded app or third-party deliverers, receiving orders and getting them to the kitchen can be time-consuming, as well as a potential area for human error. When Buffalo Wild Wings first started working with third-party delivery companies, staff processed those orders manually into the POS system, says Todd Kronebusch, VP of market development. Now, he says, the chain has a program that sends all online orders directly into the POS, saving staff time and boosting accuracy. The data flows from the POS directly to the kitchen display systems, allowing the workflow to be automated, even from multiple ordering channels.
Now, more streamlining is in the works. BWW has started working with a dispatch software company to collect and process delivery orders made through the chain’s website as well as facilitate those placed with delivery services.
Tracked in the kitchen
While delivery orders tend to come in earlier in each daypart than takeout or dine-in orders, the extra load can still strain the kitchen, says Jason Rusk, VP of alternate platforms for Red Robin. Similar to BWW, the burger chain now has a well-integrated system that sends online and app orders to its kitchen technology, with leader boards that show where every order is, he says. “The kitchen management technology knows when to tell the cook to drop a protein that may have a different prep time than a salad, so everything for the order is ready at the right moment.” There are five screens per kitchen, including two screens at the expediter station—one of them dedicated to orders to go. At the to-go station, an employee does a final check to ensure that delivery orders are correct before they’re handed over to a driver.
Red Robin overhauled its takeout packaging to maintain quality. “Our old packaging was a cardboard box, thin and flimsy; you couldn’t see inside and it didn’t maintain temperature,” says Rusk. Too, food often sat while waiting for a delivery partner. So the chain rolled out recyclable to-go containers that keep food warm for longer, provide ventilation so fries don’t get soggy and have transparent lids to facilitate accuracy.
For Buffalo Wild Wings, the revamp didn’t come in the form of packaging, but as space for packaging. “We’ve worked on designing our restaurants to dedicate more space to processing takeout and delivery,” Kronebusch says. “We added additional warming boxes and coolers to hold completed orders.” Front of house, there’s now a dedicated line for pickup of preordered meals.
This week's head-spinning restaurant moments included a suggestion in court that the "b" in IHOb stood for "bad news for Applebee's." That's just one of the long-shot gambles that came to light as oddsmakers considered the likelihood of restaurants charging into sports betting and who'll win the chain vs. independent bout.