From À La Carte to Takeaway: Transforming Your Menu

By

20.09.2021 Business tips

From À La Carte to Takeaway: Transforming Your Menu

Learn how to successfully pivot your menu to takeaway.  

The introduction of social distancing and caps on the number of in-restaurant diners has forced many restauranteurs, bars, and cafés to heavily rely on takeaway and delivery services in order to survive.

Where takeaway used to refer to fast-food staples such as pizza or fish and chips, in recent years it has evolved to become so much more. From finish-at-home meals through to pre-mixed cocktails, the options are endless. Thanks to the pandemic, even some of Australia’s most exclusive fine dining institutions have had to pivot to takeaway in order to stay in business.

For the staff at Seville Estate, it's been a way to keep spirits high.

“It’s the best way to help people keep busy and employed — staff retention is incredibly important for us, especially in this climate," says Dylan McMahon, General Manager at Seville Estate. "Doing Seville at Home was a great way for staff to stay connected, with each other and with our customers. It’s been good for morale, as well as the business.”

Put simply, takeaway is a good alternative to traditional service — one that keeps customers happy, cash flowing into your business, and staff busy. 

Considering pivoting your dine-in menu to takeaway? Here are six considerations to make your offering a success.

Subscribe to the Zeller newsletter

Fresh updates for your business every fortnight

By sharing your details with us, we may contact you from time to time. We promise we won’t bug you — and you can unsubscribe from communications at any time.

1. Make your menu visually appealing

When a customer dines in, they can rely on their senses; following their eyes and nose to select the right meal for them. However, with takeaway, customers don’t get that first glimpse. Instead, it’s the menu that has to sell them on your offering. For this reason, your menu must do justice to your food. This is where it pays to invest in quality food photography.

Good imagery makes the best first impression for takeaway customers. More often than not, browsing images on Facebook and Instagram is how they decide who gets their business. After all, the camera eats first. 

These days, choosing where to dine often comes down to aesthetics — and this is particularly true when dealing with takeaway. The benefit to you is that, if you can translate the taste visually, you will likely see higher rates of upsizing and impulse buying.

To get your menu in people’s hands, we recommend you serve up at least two high-quality food images to your socials each week — and make sure they best resemble the meals that will be delivered to customers (or you could face disgruntled diners). If you're offering a weekly special, make sure customers can see what it looks like.

2. Write clear and enticing menu descriptions

While it pays to have delicious imagery, it’s just as important to paint a tasty picture with words. Not just because they can disclose ingredients you can’t see in the pictures, but because it can pre-empt customer enquiries about dietary requirements — making the order experience more seamless.

When dining in person, a customer can quickly ask a waiter for information about a dish. With takeaway, the customer doesn’t have this luxury — which is why it’s best to make your menu as descriptive as possible. List all of the ingredients and allergy warnings so customers can feel confident placing an order with you. When other eateries don’t extend the same courtesy, you may find you quickly become the takeaway venue of choice.

Another way to bring more clarity to your menu is by creating clear food categories. These will pave a clearer path to purchase because people can quickly find what they’re looking for, whether it’s a dessert, meal deal, drink or side. Some venues are more creative with their categories, and include things such as the length of time it will take to cook, or spice level for example.

3. Recreate dining out experiences

As Australians, we have always celebrated our rich and vibrant food scene by eating out. It’s an immersive experience that treats our senses to great flavours, irresistible scents, good company, and buzzing atmospheres. It’s also something many have sorely missed during the pandemic — and recreating these experiences is something that could help you win more business from nostalgic diners.

One way you can tap into the love of communal experiences is by shaping set menus designed to be enjoyed together. Not only will this bring a refreshing novelty to your offering, but you can include a strategic combination of meals with high-profit margins — allowing you to capitalise on various themes.

You might, for example, consider a Sunday Dinner dining pack — or a picnic pack, to be enjoyed outdoors, as restrictions ease. Consider what small but strategic adjustments you could make to your menu to recreate communal experiences.

4. Offer dishes that travel well

While it’s important to have a delicious offering, it’s just as important to ensure that what you’re promising your customers accurately reflects what they’ll be eating. For example, if a customer orders a beautifully intricate dessert complete with chocolate smears and a scoop of gelato — that’s what they’ll expect. It’s up to you to get the gelato into their hands without melting. 

To ensure your final product doesn’t disappoint, you should either choose dishes that can hold their shape in transit or provide instructions and materials for assembly at the other end. It’s also important that you have the right insulated carry bags and boxes on hand to keep meals at their optimal temperatures. Cold dishes are a common drawback of takeaway so, where possible, make sure foods can be wrapped securely to trap heat and stored in quality packaging that won’t disintegrate or compromise the quality of your meals while your delivery driver is out making the rounds.

Of course, if diners are picking up, the logistics are less of a concern.

5. Determine the perfect delivery method

The important thing to remember is that when it comes to transporting your deliveries, you have a choice as to how it’s done. You may choose to partner with major food delivery services, however delivery fees can into profit margins.  Alternatively, you could offer delivery yourself — or only offer pickup. 

Should you choose to integrate your own delivery service, it’s important that you’re aware of the liability, tax implications, safety requirements, payment options, and COVID-safe measures required — because there are a lot.

If you decide to offer pickup only, you’ll benefit from the cost savings of sidestepping delivery. Plus, your meals will be fresher when they reach your customers.  Of course, when lockdown measures are in place, this means customers outside of your local area can't support your business.

Some eateries have explored creative solutions to this conundrum — the most popular of which is 'hot suburb' delivery, whereby orders are placed in advance and then delivered to a specific area in one go. This expands the reach of your business, and opens it up to new customers.

Whatever you decide, it’s extremely important that you communicate the COVID-safe measures you have in place to ensure the smooth and safe transfer of meals, helping people feel confident in ordering with you.

6. Make the transaction seamless

There’s nothing worse than going through the ordering process only to find that a venue is cash-only on delivery or pickup. Do your customers a favour and make your payment process effortless — that way you’ll leave them satisfied and increase the rate of conversion in the process. 

With Zeller Terminal, you have three options:

  1. Carry it with you and take payment upon delivery.
  2. Manually enter card details to complete payment over the phone.
  3. Take contactless, curbside payment upon pickup.

Zeller Terminal is a fully mobile EFTPOS machine, which can be connected to the internet via WiFi, personal hotspot or SIM Card

Now that you’re across all the ways you can optimise your takeaway offering, sign up to our Zeller Business Blog to cash in on valuable insights sent straight to your inbox.

Ready to get started with Zeller?