ARTICLE REVIEW 1
Thinking inside the Box
By Barney Wolf
According to Wolf (2015), boxed lunches or upscale grab-and-go items are alternatives to enlarge restaurant operators’ sales and marketing in order to satisfy busy on-the-go Americans. Spokespersons from various brands are stating that the alternatives are now at growing number percentage due to high demand of the customers who prefer to have their meals at their respective locations. The boxed lunches are favoured by individuals, corporate, school sporting, travel events, groups of excursionists, churches or charity organizers. The meals are comprises from fast food to healthier meals with different range of choices and prices. The boxed lunches are handy, personalize and conducive to suit the needs of the customers. However, not all items in the boxed lunches are prepared by the same restaurant operators.
Criteria that differentiate boxed lunches or upscale grab-and-go items with other caterings are:
- Meals are prepared earlier or after the peak hour of normal restaurant operations
- Restaurants typically requested that customer’s order need to be done beforehand
- The order has to be correct and delivery of meals must be punctual
- Mistakes are slightly accepted
- Any errors cannot be corrected on the spot
- The meals are usually served cold or with the entrée served in hot bags
- Packaging are important with attractive graphics and menu
- Some of the customers have never been to the restaurants but experience the meals via boxed lunches
- They are customers with nutrition awareness. This lead to healthy meals boxed lunches
- Some of the items are prepared by outsourced companies that have been appointed by the restaurants.
Particularly, the author appeals to recent research conducted by Technomic Inc., shows that box lunches and other catering efforts are certainly growing areas for operators especially after the recession. Technomic also reports that $45.8 billion of catering industry are made up by quick-service restaurants, follows by fast casuals at 7 percent and the number is growing. Eventhough boxed lunches can be done without interrupting normal business, they are actually easy to say than to be done in proper way because it requires a lot of works. So, this is where experience is important to ensure the smoothness of the operations.
The author cites Erle Dardick, founder of the Catering Institute and Affiliated Companies that the demand of boxed lunches are various from corporate offices, school sporting, travel events, groups of excursionists or for charity purposes. The statement is supported from reports by brands such as Which Wich and Jason’s Deli restaurants which have been received the same type of customers including individuals, business, and even churches. Thus, restaurant operators are seeing the benefits of catering outside the restaurant where people enjoy the food and the brand is known and an opportunity to market their products. In addition, spending plenty of time, effort and investment on this new business model are worth it.
Lindsay Macedo, representative from Which Wich responses that grab-and-go items are handy and personalize. The customization of the boxed lunches can be seen through their offering of 50 sandwiches that can be chosen including condiments and desserts. Restaurants such as Bruegger’s Bagels and My Fit Foods say that boxed lunches are also conducive due to two reasons; meeting the needs of those who in rush during lunch hour because of tight schedule and extended meetings and customers who eat their meals frequently. Boxed lunches successfully solve their issue; they do not have to stuck on traffic or miss their lunch by having the meals at their own desks.
Wolf’s article brings the idea of the latest trend in foodservice industry. It is understandable that boxed lunches or upscale grab-and-go items are making golden fortune to most restaurant operators as sociological predicts that American will face longer working hours that results to greater demand of this trend. The author successfully manages to focus on the advantages of the trend but slightly ignoring the disadvantages of the trend. The challenges that has been highlighted has not been further explained thus results in questionable statement. Furthermore, lack of other available resources besides citations of the main players in the industry is also identified. Moreover, facts such as figure of profit makings should be clear stated with comparison of each year sale in order to support statement in the article.
Overall, the article shows how boxed lunches may provide additional revenue and marketing for operators without neglecting their current business operations. People who involve directly in foodservice industry, lecturers and students in related field will find this article useful; except for certain matters. Improvising can be done in order to make the article more solid and perfectly written. Firstly, the facts which are not convincing can be added with relevant financial report. Along with the advantages, a brief explanation on disadvantages of the trend can be written as to show comparison between them. The challenges that has been raised earlier, should be further explained with examples in the industry. Lastly, references to other media such as television or radio can be used for variation in supporting statements.
ARTICLE REVIEW 2
Small Plates, Big Presentation
By Korsha Wilson
Wilson’s article (2015) discusses the emerging method of serving dishes in small-plates concept. In this concept, the dishes are served in mini crock pots, tiny cast-iron skillets, or diminutive Mason jars. Although the portion size of the meals probably small, chefs and back-of-the-house crews agree that the concept benefits in many ways. Two restaurants which apply the concept; No. 8 Kitchen & Spirits and Barilla agree that serving in small-plates helps to add value to the dining experience and manage cost control. Small-plates may require intensive care but serving dishes become pleasant and convenient whereby the dishes are prepared ahead, pre-portion and heat it prior to service. This concept differentiate them from fine-dining image and brings more homey and cozy ambience to the guests.
Small-plates trend is unique because:
- Instead of using white plates, compact cookware is preferable such as mini crock pots, tiny cast-iron skillets, diminutive Mason jars and ramekins
- Small-plates concept is a creative way to add value in dining experience
- Small-plates may also play as measuring tools to control food cost
- The concept idea might be troublesome during peak hours but it is actually pleasant and convenient way of serving dishes by preparing the meals earlier, pre-portion and heat it prior to service
- Sometimes, intensive care is required when dealing with such compact cookware where the Mason jars have to be kept in a dedicated shelf and to be hand-washed
- The cookware also can be used for other purposes. For instance, the Mason jars can be used for beverages, flower vases or filled with water as centerpieces to deter insects
- The concept does not overshadow the fine-dining image
- Create more homey and cozy ambience to the guests.
In U.S., tapas or Spain cuisine is the pioneer that leads to the small-plates trend and the trend is tremendously growing. According to a study by Technomic, a research and consulting firm focused on the food service industry; 27 percent of consumers said they usually ordered small-plates as a starter to a meal or as part of a tapas-style meal. Another 30 said they sometimes ordered small plates. The study shows that there is a demand on smaller portions. One of the truth fact is, the millennials are one of the reason. The younger set likes the more experimental way of sharing different plates and customizing meals. Elizabeth Sims, Tupelo Honey’s marketing director says that the millennials are very used to getting precisely what and how they want it. They do not want to be served in a cookie-cutter idea.
McPhee from Restaurant 17 says that serving small-plates in addition to entrees actually allows the chefs to avoid food waste and keep lowers costs. They can purchase items in larger quantities at a lower cost. For example, instead of buying multiple pounds of the same cut of meat, the chefs can order the whole animal. They use the standards cuts for entrées and, in small-plates, have an outlet for the other cuts not normally used. Joe Clarke, chef and owner at American Grocery Restaurant agrees that he is experiencing something similar when it comes to small-plates. For example, when Clarke serves ribeye steak, he inevitably has leftover cuts of meat. The chef has turned those leftovers into an andouille dish on the restaurant’s starter menu.
However, small-plates are not meant for everyone. It is a proof that there are someone who against the idea. This can be seen where plenty of restaurants in U.S. are sticking to the traditional way of serving. Managing partner of Larkin’s on the River, Bob Munnich says while the menu offers an array of appetizers like shrimp cocktail and a tenderloin, goat-cheese quesadilla, the restaurant will likely never go full throttle on small-plates. He also adds that in order to maintain the level of service and the quality of food, the fewer different presentations that they have of each thing, the more consistent it is. Also, the easier it is to produce at a higher volume and at a more consistent level of quantity.
The small-plates approach can be an effective way to “upsell” menu items, says Green zebra chof-owner Shawn McClain, who features 20 to 25 petite portions on his vegetarian menu. Although the price seems lower on the menu, in a lot of cases they are upselling the number of items-and especially at the tables that are sharing. Mc Clain’s employees have taken advantage of those opportunities. Since opening in 2004, sales at his 60-seat, dinner-only restaurant have hovered between $1.2 million and $1.4 million a year. Suprisingly, about 75 percent of their business consists of repeat customers.
A food blogger from www.bonappetit.com says serving in small-plates are completely contrary to how he likes to eat. This applies to the food that he loves the most where he would like to have it a lot and prefer not to share. The idea of serving in small-plates is most likely to encourage people to eat less of everything and share with everyone. Also, he mentions about flavour issue where the taste of small size food is different with full-sized plate of food. That is why, Chef Green, general manager at High Cotton firstly suggesting to add more small-plates to its menu but ultimately decided against a major overhaul. He says that they have to find the right balance of small plates, snack plates and entrées in order to consider customers opinion.
Wilson’s article focusses on small-plates trend or serving in small size portion which is a growing business in the time being. The trend which has been identified by National Restaurant Association in 2009, plays a significant role in changing consumer preference from fine-dining to more homey style of dining. The author manages to highlight the objective of the article with clear definition and describes the benefits of the concept in a very straightforward explanation. Conversely, the article seems lack of explanation in some key issues. Firstly, small-plates is stated to help cost control but definition in cost control has broader in meaning. Next, how does the cleaning and sanitation are done with very extra care besides keeping in dedicated shelf and hand-washed as stated in second last paragraph?
In a nutshell, small-plates concept makes dining experience more valuable, able to compete with fine-dining trend and enhance chef’s creativity. The article can be a good source of reference; absolutely well-written and useful especially when it comes to the information on the latest trend in foodservice except of few points that should be improvised. Probably, comprising timeline of small-plates concept or revolution of small-plates in foodservice industry which might assist readers to have the basic understanding of the trend. Secondly, to briefly describe the scope of costs that has contributed in reducing the overall cost of business. Lastly, to detail some information on cleaning and sanitation practices of the vessels which has been stated as extra care.
ARTICLE REVIEW 3
The Mobile Age
By Kevin Hardy
The article by Kevin Hardy discusses mobile tools, the latest technology in foodservice industry. The industry is eagerly looking forward to replace cash and credit to mobile payment and ordering methods. Mobile tools might be costly and does not simply engage with legacy systems. However, the applications are very convenient. In sync with faster payment transactions, the application integrates the brand’s loyalty programme and increases number of customers. Mobile tools enable customers to immediately access information about restaurants via smartphones, avoid the queues and allow both customers and operators to promptly track loyalty programmes. Conversely, study shows that technology made restaurant visits more complicated, fundamental the continued importance of quality customer service.
Other advantages that the main players in the industry highlight about mobile tools are:
- Mobile payment enables employees to focus on quality and accuracy that helps to excellence operations
- Stores can offer curbside and in-store pickup, which allows customers to circumvent the line at the counter or drive thru
- Payment process is much faster than a traditional transaction
- On casual-dining segment, mobile payment makes easier for customers when they do not have to wait on a check to make a payment
- Mobile tools improves customer satisfaction
- The applications can be accessed anywhere and at anytime
- The technology provides restaurants with powerful data such as demographic
- Restaurant-branded applications can target suggestive selling to individual customers-which helps explain the increased incremental revenue operators realize on mobile orders.
Research conducts by Cornell University and Mississippi State University states that the readiness and willingness of customers to adopt customer-facing payment technology such as tabletop tablets and smartphone payments is emerging because the convenience that comes with mobile ordering and payment methods. The research which focuses on the casual-dining segment shows that customers like the domination of these mobile tools. They do not have to wait on a check anymore. It same goes to fast food service segment which shows Domino’s mobile application that has been downloaded by more than 5 million users. Online ordering now accounts for about half of all Domino’s orders, which can help to ease burden of employees in stores, as fewer employees are needed to handle the phones.
According to American Express, mobile payment programmes are relatively inexpensive and do not require complicated technical knowledge to implement. That is why small businesses have been fast to adopt the latest technology. Furthermore, the ability to offer credit card payments through this programme may able to increase customer base and sales. Meanwhile, some mobile payment providers charge less per transaction than credit card companies, which equates to direct savings for the company. Keith Garabedian, owner of Hot Diggity says mobile payments allow them to receive 250 customers during peak lunch hour. By utilizing mobile payments, they can serve customers faster rather than the traditional way of payment.
One of the biggest advantages of using a mobile payment option is the ability to integrate loyalty and incentive programmes into the mobile payment applications. Instead of customers having to stay with punch cards or key ring tags, all of their information is kept in the application each time they make a purchase with their mobile device. Jared Isaacman, CEO of POS provider Harbortouch, says mobile technology has for a couple years been able to make strong case: customers may immediately access information about restaurants via smartphones, mobile ordering enables customers to skip the line and mobile applications allow both customers and operators to promptly track loyalty programmes.
Gene Signorini, vice president of mobile insights at Mobiquity says a common difficulties for small businesses is tracking inventory and customer behaviour. With mobile payment, these processes can be automated and serve customers better. Now, mobile payments can track type of product and services they are providing to understand customer demands. Payment information can now be captured and they are able to learn about their customers and utilize the information to improve service. Noah Glass, founder of Olo agrees that the technology provides restaurants with powerful data. By tracking customer habits and geography, restaurant-branded applications can target suggestive selling to individual customers-which helps explain the increased incremental revenue operators realize on mobile orders.
Garabedian also adds that mobile tools helps to increase speed of checking customers out. There are a few other options out there for a retailer to integrate payments within its branded app. Paypal for example, provides that opportunity. Customers like quick service, especially during making payment since that is typically their least favourite part of the sopping or dining experience. Most customers and employees find that it is considerable faster top pay with a mobile device than a credit card. Customers typically are more willing to return if they do not have to wait a long time in line.
In Hardy’s article, technology in foodservice industry nowadays emerges in many ways as solution for better service. It is his main objective to expose readers with benefits that can be obtained in transforming traditional payment and ordering methods to mobile tools. Specifically defines the technology, he identifies the advantages of mobile tools and convince readers with valid resources from both operators’ and technical perspectives. Although most of the contents are perceived only on the positive effects of the technology, he also knocks the readers’ sense by pointing some of general disadvantages of mobile tools in two separated paragraphs. All of the key points are varied and mostly supported from research and study which provide relevant facts and figures.
In conclusion, the author successfully relates the article with current issues that happen in daily operations of foodservice. Furthermore, it turns out that mobile tools are relevant not only to the business but as one way to reform efficiency among employees. The implication of the article is to encouraging operators to search better options in investing the technology for business growth and recognize the benefits of mobile tool towards healthy competition in the industry. “The Mobile Age” will definitely can be a good source of knowledge and reference for people within or outside of the industry.
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Hardy, K. (2015). The Mobile Age. Retrieved from
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