The Fastest Way to Get a Delivery Program Up and Running

Today’s restaurant operators can now use several channels to reach their guests, including:

  • bricks-and-mortar seating
  • catering
  • takeout
  • drive-thru
  • delivery

Digital ordering apps and online delivery platforms have grown the delivery channel exponentially.

Among them, online delivery — particularly, via third-party providers— is garnering the most attention because it holds the biggest promise of boosting sales. Last year, the research firm NPD reported a 20% increase in delivery sales and 10% gain in delivery foodservice visits, many them prompted via digital ordering. A Technomic restaurant operator report showed delivery generated incremental sales for 60% of those surveyed.

By all accounts, the delivery runway remains long. This year, for example, a Wells Fargo survey of nearly 500 consumers who ordered restaurant delivery at least once during the surveyed month found that respondents ordered delivery fewer than five times a month. The survey also noted 28% ordered delivery just once in the past month.

This channel is immature and has a long way to go to become economically viable on a long term basis. The marketplace is evolving and will change until it normalizes.

So if you’re among operators ready to leap on the bandwagon yet smart enough to grasp the pros and cons of online delivery, consider these five issues before signing a contract with a third-party delivery service. Or, more likely, services.

  • Footprint. Is there enough front-of-the-house space to accommodate both delivery drivers arriving with large sacks and dining-room guests waiting to be seated? If not, can the space be expanded to accommodate guests — and at what cost? Or will you have to devise rules for when and where drivers arrive and hang out while waiting for orders?
  • Seamlessness. The issue of seamlessly integrating third-party delivery technology into a restaurants’ point-of-sale system is improving. But that doesn’t mean your delivery service of choice will make it happen for you. Yet it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker if the delivery service hands you their tablet. But be aware that technology (via third-party integrators) does exist to flow orders directly into your POS. Companies that supply it include Ordermark, Omnivore, Chowly, and ItsaCheckmate.
  • Visibility. Images of your food will appear on a third-party’s website. Make sure the photos you supply not only make your dishes look inviting but fairly represent what is supposed to arrive at the customer’s door. Also, a good idea is to first “test drive” menu items yourself by putting them in a car and driving around to determine which hold up best after, say, an hour’s drive-time.
  • Data. Today’s big issue is, Who owns sales and customer-behavior data —  you the operator or the delivery service? For now, delivery services claim it, because in their mind they “own” the customer. But here’s the twist: If the delivery driver arrives late with cold food, guess who gets blamed? You do. And without customer details, how do you reach out and solve the problem? Worse: Ordering off of a third-party platform bypasses a restaurant’s loyalty program, depriving guests of a possible deal and operators of customer data.
  • Fees & pricing. There’s no such thing as “free delivery” — at least not for you, the operator. Third-party service fees may run as high as 30% of individual menu items, depending on an operator’s ability to negotiate a fair percentage. The bigger you are in terms of sales or number of units, the better your chances of negotiating a lower fee. One way to make up for high fees is to raise menu prices on delivered items. Yet check first with your third-party delivery firm. Some are known to frown it.

Blog written by Former restaurant CEO Fred LeFranc is the Founder/Chaos Strategist at Results Thru Strategy, the Charlotte, N.C.-based consulting firm he co-founded in 2009. This blog can be found in the Florida Restaurant and Lodging MagazineFall Edition

Is Plant Forward the Way Forward?

With the amount of money and attention being invested in plant-based foods, it’s easy to get caught up in the wave of excitement.  From oat milk to cauliflower crust, plant-based foods have blossomed into a $3.3 billion industry at retail.  Meanwhile, foodservice operators are re-examining menus, foraging for solutions, and launching new concepts to capitalize on rising consumer interest in plant-based alternatives.   Take, for example, Burger King who announced this year it would run a 59-store test of the Impossible Burger, a soy protein-based burger being embraced by independent chefs and chains alike.  By offering a meatless option, Burger King provides current customers more choice, perhaps inspiring them to come in more often, while attracting new consumers who would not otherwise consider the chain.

In determining whether plants have a bigger role to play on menus, it’s important for chefs and operators to consider more than just the bump or buzz that may come from featuring products like the Impossible Burger or other meat “analogs.”  An intimate understanding of the consumer — their specific needs, interests and expectations of the restaurant and/or brand — should drive the vision or food philosophy for the overall concept as well as the menu strategy.  And if done right, cultivating a plant-forward menu will not require buzzwords like “plant-based, “vegetarian” or “vegan,” but rather resonate with guests on a more lasting and meaningful level that comes across as authentic and not forced.

As one of the primary drivers of consumer interest in plant-based foods, “better health”  can manifest itself in as many ways across the menu and across dayparts as there are guests, including allergen free, high protein, low carb and everything in between.  At minimum, incorporating plant-forward menu items can help create a positive health halo.  And, if guests are actively making food choices based on diet or health, cultivating a plant-forward menu that incorporates an array of vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and even dairy alternatives enables the flexibility and customization necessary to serve this health-conscious crowd.

Separate from better health, some consumers, particularly those from younger generations, seek out and extend loyalty to plant-forward restaurants whose values align with theirs around issues like sustainability and animal welfare.  In some instances, animal protein still has a home on the menu, but serves more as an ingredient and comes from more sustainable, animal-friendly sources.  In any case, a plant-forward menu can facilitate transparency and create an opportunity for greater engagement with guests by sharing the restaurant’s food philosophy, including the sources and stories behind its products and menu.

In the end, the most critical ingredient to a successful plant-forward menu that appeals to all guests is TASTE.   Whether plants are the primary focus or have a supporting role on the menu, they enable chefs to express their creativity and innovate with new flavor combinations that appeal to consumer’s desire for culinary adventure. While it may take some convincing to bring some guests along, leveraging the abundance of unique and flavorful plants available today can create an exciting and compelling point of differentiation to keep current and new guests coming back for more.

Blog written by Kathy Takemura, Partner, Tournant Inc

Our May Member of the Month Came to Play🍴

Have you met our May Member of the Month?

Meet the owner of 21 Spices in Naples, Chef Asif Syed. Chef Asif makes a mean Tandoori Chicken, and is well known for beating Chef Bobby Flay on his own show, Beat Bobby Flay!

Chef Asif says it best: “Hospitality runs in my blood.” He was raised in a city in Indian known for its hospitality. Because of this, he has developed a passion for helping young adults entering the industry find their passion. It is important for him to teach “youngsters” his knowledge, so that they can one day go on and succeed in the industry.

Congratulations, Chef Asif, for being our wonderful May Member of the Month!


Florida Administrative Rules Govern Temporary Event Food Safety, Licensing

Temporary events have always been a part of the American culture. Fairs, carnivals, athletic contests, farmers’ markets and local celebrations all have one thing in common – a variety of available foods. Food vendors range from restaurateurs trying to increase revenue and brand exposure to home cooks hoping to develop businesses around family recipes.

Florida Administrative Rules define a temporary event as any event of 30 or fewer consecutive days, advertised and recognized in the community, where food is prepared, served or sold to the general public. The statutes and the rules also specify food safety guidelines and licensure requirements food vendors must follow.

Most events take place outdoors and portable facilities and equipment are permitted. The minimum requirements include:

  • Overhead protection
  • Dustless flooring
  • Potable water for cleaning and hand washing
  • Approved cleaner and sanitizer for food-contact surfaces
  • A hand-wash facility with soap and single-use towels,
  • Equipment to maintain food hot (135°F or above) or cold (41°F or below)
  • A food thermometer
  • The means to protect food from environmental contamination

If warewashing facilities are not available on site, an adequate supply of spare preparation and serving utensils must be present to replace in-use utensils that become soiled or contaminated. All food must be stored and prepared at the temporary event or in a licensed food establishment. Food prepared or stored in private homes is strictly prohibited.

Except for specific statutory exclusions, food vendors must obtain a license prior to operating at temporary events. Event sponsors are required to notify the Division of Hotels and Restaurants at least three days prior to the start of the event. Division staff issue licenses on the event day after conducting a satisfactory inspection.

Fixed and mobile public food-service establishments with a current license from the Division of Hotels and Restaurants, or the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, may operate one unit at an event without obtaining a temporary-event license. Single-event license fees are $91 for one- to three-day events and $105 for four- to 30-day events. A $456 annual license is also available and can be used to participate in multiple events.

Licensing exclusions include:

  • Events held on property regulated by Florida Department of Health, on Native American Indians sovereign land, or on church property
  • Events lasting one to three days and sponsored by a nonprofit organization
  • Food stands operated by a nonprofit organization
  • Vendors offering only ice, popcorn, whole fruits, peanuts in the shell, prepackaged items and beverages without additions or further preparation

Food vendors, including those excluded from licensing, must follow all sanitation and safety requirements to protect public health. A temporary-event brochure and checklist published by the Division of Hotels and Restaurants is available on DBPR’s website at

Read more food safety articles in FR&L Magazine’s Food Safety Edition.


This week’s blog is by Carlos Lezcano, Statewide Training Manager, and Lisa Lambert, Training and Research Consultant, at the Division of Hotels and Restaurants, Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.