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Re-Opening: Meal Kits Come Into Their Own

Jun 10, 2020

Over the past several months, re-inventing a restaurant into a curbside pickup/delivery operation has been challenging. For many operators, it has entailed developing new menus, sourcing packaging, creating an online order system and beefing up delivery programs. Add to that, developing a marketing campaign with a limited team and budget.

With the re-opening of dining rooms now upon you, it’s crucial to maintain (and even grow) your off-premise sales after all that work.  Here’s how RTS Partner chef Becky Foulk has been helping clients do just that. Note: For a primer on launching a takeout/delivery operations, click to watch this video

First, you probably realize by now that your corporate and event catering business will be slow to return. What is needed to replace it is a focus on catering to small at home parties and family meals.

Meal kits (along with the alcoholic beverage kits below ) are nearly ready-to-eat meals (or kits) where customers cook all or part of the meal. The majority of the labor comes from the restaurant’s kitchen, Ideally, they are produced during non-peak periods. Although grocery stores (like Whole Foods) have been offering these for years, few have that personal chef-inspired finish. Which is to your advantage.

The basics: When developing these menus and kits, keep in mind the following:

  • A signature touch unique to your restaurant
  • Easy for the kitchen to execute/prep in down time
  • Ingredients already in your kitchen
  • One or two seasonal offerings that rotate throughout the year
  • Theme parties: special touches to promote the theme: cooks’ apron or hat for grilling, kitchen utensil, sports team logo, maraca or sparklers
  • Cooking/serving instructions that are easy to understand and follow
  • Dips & Spreads or other starters if not part of the original menu
  • Disposable chafing pans, plateware and optional rentals
  • Additional sales thorough non-alcoholic beverages (homemade ice tea, lemonade, agua frescas, bottled water, bags of ice)
  • Several states are now allowing the sale of beer, wine and even alcohol or kits with the alcohol on the side 

 

Meal Kit Ideas: Offering ready-to-grill kits is a great idea because they will be familiar to nearly all of your customers. Here are a few:

  • Skewers / Kabob Kit with marinated / and skewered proteins ready to grill and brush with signature sauces. All the condiments and sides are ready to serve.
  • Fajita Kit that includes marinated beef and chicken ready to grill with tortillas and topping bar.
  • Grilled Pizza Party Kit featuring pizzas shells ready to grill along with a list six pizzas recipes to choice from. Customers can select which two pizza varieties they want to cook.
  • Catch of the Day Kit includes ready-to-grill marinated fish with all the sides and condiments ready to serve.

 

RTS Partner Len Ghilani is a restaurant operations specialist. Here, he offers ideas for two beverage kits that should appeal to customers grilling their food or otherwise eating outdoors at home. Kits can be sized (and priced) to include everything customers needs to assemble a couple of drinks or several servings.

  • Margarita Kits. The advantage of a Margarita kit is the tequila itself, allowing you to offer kits at various prices (depending on the brand of tequila). Customers can also choose the quantity of tequila in the kit (full bottle or, say, enough for two Margaritas). The kit itself includes a recipe, tequila, Triple Sec or other orange-flavored liquor, limes, lemons, salt, agave mix or sweet & sour mix.   
  • Sangria Kits. Sangria kits are perfect for warm-weather dining and should be marketed as such. They typically include a bottle of dry red wine (preferably Spanish), fruits (apples, oranges are common but type depends on the recipe you’re using), simple or flavored syrups, and brandy. Include the recipe with instructions in the kit.  

A word about packaging: Packaging is costly in the to-go business. Yet you want to ensure the final packaging and/or bag adequately represents your restaurant. So evaluating how the food travels and is received by the customer is vital to growing sales. You must first determine what is important to your brand and the product you’re serving — eco friendly, logo, microwave or oven safe, temperature or the texture of the product — and purchase what you need to meet that need.

If you need assistance with your restaurant’s takeout or delivery program, Results Thru Strategy can help. Call 888-812-2150  or email RTS CEO Fred LeFranc at fred@resultsthrustrategy.com.

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