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Blog - Flanagan Foodservice

Schneiders Canadian Farm-Raised Pulled Meats

Three sandwiches with schneiders pulled meats on buns and toppings

 

 

Made with Natural Ingredients

 

Like many, I've been enjoying Schneiders products for years.  I am happy to share that their pulled meats are delicious!  Convenient and something you can confidently serve your guests.  They are fully cooked (or perhaps I should say slow-roasted for several hours), and they don't come with any sauce which allows you to get creative and make them your own.  

 

One of my favourite features is that all the pork, beef and chicken are Canadian.  The sentiment to support local is higher than ever, make sure you let your customers know that you are purchasing Canadian farm-raised meats.

 

Features

• Canadian Farm Raised pork, beef, and chicken
• No sauce added - versatile
• No preservatives* or artificial flavours
• Fully Cooked - ready for use
• Convenient pack size
• Gluten Free
• Slow-roasted to keep flavour in

 

 

Click here to see the fact sheet

 

 

 

Looking for some inspiration?

 
Patio Pulled Chicken Flatbread

 

Schneiders pulled chicken with tomotoes olives and other toppings on pizza board

 

Tender Canadian pulled chicken served on a crisp herb flatbread with an artichoke and asiago base with peppers, tomatoes, olives, shredded cheese then finished with fresh arugula.  A great starter on the patio.

 

Get the Recipe

 

 

 

Piri Piri Pulled Chicken Wraps

 

Schneiders pulled chicken piri piri wraps on a wood background

 

Spicy piri piri seasoned Canadian pulled chicken wrapped in a grilled flour tortilla with lettuce, peppers and red onion, finished with a lemon vinaigrette and fresh cracked black pepper.

 

Get the Recipe

 

 

 

Italian Beef Sandwich with Goat Cheese & Red Peppers

 

Pulled beef sandwich with onions goat cheese and toppings on a white plate

 

Here’s a hearty sandwich that requires no cooking at all—but is loaded with flavourful ingredients and vibrant colours.

 

 

 

Get the Recipe

 

 

 

Contact your sales representative today for more information.

 

 

 

 

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Make your Drive Thru Safe and Tasty

 

Sign promoting Drive Thru on a black background

Have you opened a drive-thru to supplement income from takeout and delivery? Here are some key considerations to make sure you have the safest, cleanest window selling environment, from Paul Medeiros, Managing Director, Consulting, Technical and Retail Audit Services at NSF International.

 

PHYSICAL DISTANCING REMAINS KEY
Drive-thru employees may find the two-metre distance guide challenging, especially if drivers stop their vehicle too close to the window or if staff need to take the meal out directly to a parked car. Here are some ideas that may help keep physical distance working:

 

1. Ensure your bollards are properly positioned (and present) to help guide drivers away from the window. Attach a small flag (similar to the flags you see protruding from the side of bikes to keep cars away.


2. If your drive-thru window design doesn’t allow the installation of a plexiglass shield (like those in grocery retail), train employees to avoid leaning out the window or moving closer than necessary to the vehicle. A plexiglass is still the best bet, and all you need is around 12 inches at the bottom to slide through products.


3. Place signage at your drive-thru menu board, letting your customers know that you’re ‘keeping space’ and asking them to do the same.


4. Consider using takeout trays for all drinks as they reduce the risk of employees making direct contact with customers.

 

COMMON TOUCH POINTS FOR THE CONSUMER
Restrict payment to tap only, online payments or other ‘frictionless’ ordering methods. If cash is used, the employee needs to wash hands thoroughly after handling the cash and before touching other surfaces or items. The debit card machine keys also need to be wiped down between customers.

COMMON TOUCH POINTS FOR THE EMPLOYEE
Conduct a safely check and verify the drive-thru window automatic open/close mechanism is working. Manually opening and closing the window introduces a common touchpoint.

HANDWASHING 
Employees need to wash hands thoroughly after each customer order.

BAG HAND-OFF 
Even though your staff will wash their hands after each order, care must be taken to avoid hand contact. Bags are easier to handle in this case but takeout drinks and trays often result in hand-to-hand contact. Note: with all the extra handwashing, rotate employees often so that hands get a rest from washing.

GARBAGE HANDLING 
Most customers are very considerate, but some have taken to throwing out potentially dangerous items in drive-thru trash receptacles. The option of removing these (and posting accompanying signage) is an option, but could result in greater littering. The most common option is to make sure the employees who handle the garbage wear adequate PPE (gloves and apron) and that the garbage is double-bagged. Assume all garbage contains potentially harmful materials including used masks.

RETURNED ITEMS 
Do not handle a bag or package after it has been given to a customer. If a customer tells you an item is missing from the order, hand them another.

COHORT STAFF 
Hospitals and nursing homes taught us long ago the value of ‘cohorting’ staff and patients. Cohorting basically refers to the segregation of people into ‘groups’ or ‘pods’ or ‘bubbles’ or ‘shifts’. By cohorting people and avoiding contact between cohorts, you minimize the spread of infection. If someone in a cohort gets ill, then only that cohort is affected. The food industry has been applying this concept as one way to address COVID-19 risks. This should serve as a reminder to all foodservice companies with multiple sites to make sure they limit their employees to working one site only. If possible, maximize employee hours so they are not incentivized to work multiple part-time jobs, which introduces them to various ‘cohorts’ and could increase both their risk and yours.

 

And two other tips:

• DRIVE-THRU SHOULD SUPPLEMENT TAKEOUT. Not everybody has a car so recognize you may be missing out on sales if you do away with instore/curbside takeout.

• CASH MAY STILL BE KING AT TIMES. Not everybody has access
to noncash payment options, so be prepared to have to handle some cash or deny
some customers access to food.

 

This post was shared in connection with Brand Points Plus, a FREE loyalty program for independent operators.  Easily collect points for amazing rewards, if you're not a member - we highly recommend you become one.

 

 

Learn more about Brand Points Plus

 

 

 

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100% Takeout

Lord Elgin Fish and Chips logo with pictures of fish and chips and burger

 

Lord Elgin Fish & Chips, a family-owned fish and chips restaurant located in Port Elgin, Ont., will be celebrating 40 years of serving the community this May. Owner-operator Mike Lemcke grew up in the business and, with his wife Janet, bought out his parents 22 years ago. The 3,500 sq. ft. restaurant with 145 seats appeals mainly to a family and seniors crowd.
 
Mike spoke to Brand Points Plus about how Lord Elgin Fish & Chips has been able to pivot quickly from dine-in with some takeout to 100% takeout:

What was business like for you before the coronavirus hit?

Winter is normally slow for us and we close for five weeks at Christmas, usually reopening the last week or two of January. We had just reopened and managed to get through February. Then in March just as business started to pick up, COVID-19 hit. Usually each month gets busier from March to June, then July and August are crazy busy, come September things start to slow down again, and each month from September to December things get considerably slower. Takeout sales generally varied from 15%-25% of our daily business.

When did you see the handwriting on the wall and decide to convert to takeout and delivery? 

We converted to takeout on the Tuesday the Ontario government mandated dining rooms to close. We still haven’t started delivery as we have set up a very safe pickup procedure that’s working well. If we see that people are no longer willing to pick up their orders, we will consider delivery. [Check out Lord Elgin's Facebook page to see how easy they've made it to pick up and go.] 

 

What was your first reaction when you realized you’d have to make this change?

We knew we could make the change quickly and just had to perfect the system. We had to adjust it a few times as we kept finding little things to change to make everything run smoother.

 

What steps did you have to take to convert your operation?

Five years ago, we developed a frozen battered fish product that customers can buy and cook in their oven. We have slowly increased the sales each year. This product has been very popular since restaurants had to convert to takeout only. We have added our homemade frozen fries to this product line temporarily.

What changes have you had to make to staffing?

We decided to lay off our staff and run the business with just our family of four. We have many kitchen staff who live with vulnerable people so they didn’t want to work. We decided to open only Thursday, Friday & Saturday, 12-7, to funnel as much business as we can into three days to limit our overhead. We took a few items off the menu with short shelf life to limit the amount of food waste.

What challenges have you faced in converting to takeout?

No real challenges, but we continue to rearrange the kitchen to make it more efficient for takeout. It has been interesting seeing how quickly and easily we were able to adapt to takeout only. Luckily, we already did takeout so we had all the packaging figured out already. We got the word out to our customers that we were switching to takeout mostly through Facebook and our big LED road sign. We make sure we attach a special thank you to each order for the support during this time.
 
Are your efforts bearing fruit? How have you measured success?

We are very happy with where we are at this point. Obviously, our sales are down considerably, but so are our expenses.

 

Lord Elgin Fish & Chips' top tips:

  • Trimming costs and limiting any waste is more important now than ever before.
  • Look at every little cost including how often you get garbage pickup.
  • If you find you are not very busy, reduce the days you are open.
  • If you have a product people want, they will come the few days you are open and you can reduce operating expenses.
  • Consider adding other items to your takeout menu

 

 

This post was shared in connection with Brand Points Plus, a FREE loyalty program for independent operators.  Easily collect points for amazing rewards, if you're not a member - we highly recommend you become one.

 

 

Learn more about Brand Points Plus

 

 

 

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Think like a Grocerant

 

Bags of produce in brown paper bags on a wood background

 

Since the mid-teens, traditional grocery stores in Canada have been blurring the lines between grocery and restaurant foodservice with so-called “grocerants.” These intersections of grocery and eatery have seen a number of food retailers, like Longos, Loblaws and Farm Boy (Sobeys) add in store restaurants and full meals for shoppers who want to do more than pick up their bread and bananas. For Millennials on the go, especially, these hybrids have offered the perfect combination of convenient food shopping and a hospitality experience.

 

Fast forward to 2020 and the changing world under COVID-19. More and more people need groceries – and prepared meals – at a time when grocers are reporting shortages of key products, and consumers are scrambling to satisfy home needs.

As more and more restaurant operators pivot to offer their customers takeout & delivery, why not pivot even more? Many restaurants have surplus supplies and continued access to food from their distributors. Savvy operators are already becoming food “purveyors,” and not just restaurants as they realize they are in the “food business,” and not only in the restaurant business.

Operators are turning from takeout & delivery and converting into restaurant-grocers offering meal kits, take-home/make-at-home meals, and more.

Set up your online grocery section

Earls Kitchen and Bar’s website now features an entire Grocery section as the chain adds a virtual grocery store to its regular takeout & delivery menu. Customers can buy grocery staples such as produce, dairy and toilet paper by the roll, as well as DIY meal kits and prepared meals.

Try food box subscriptions

Farm-to-table operations have been sending fresh boxes of goods to customers via subscription for years. Restaurants with access to local and seasonal ingredients can get into the game with their own branded food boxes. If you already send e-newsletters to your regulars, you can easily introduce this new service to supplement your takeout & delivery sales. The food box can contain meals as well as grocery staples...and even a roll of toilet paper.

Replicate the restaurant experience

Pre-packaged ingredients, meal kits, and menus can help turn your social distancing regulars into sometime gourmet cooks.

Upscale Toronto eatery Buca has created branded packaging of its favourites for customers who want to replicate the experience of eating a Buca meal, but in a take-home grocery format. Even traditional pizzerias can add groceries to their deliveries.

The pie is still the main event, but your customers will appreciate having access to other pantry staples too like milk, butter, tomatoes, cheese, and olive oil. And yes, you can even throw in a roll of toilet paper.

 

 

Tips:

1. Get the word out on your website and social media platforms that you have groceries, as well as prepared items, on offer.

2. Use the opportunity to brand your grocery packaging. This is a great way to build brand loyalty.

3. Choose your delivery platform carefully. Will you DIY or rely on a third-party service like Skip the Dishes, DoorDash, Foodora or Uber Eats? While you may save money doing it yourself, consider if you can increase your geographical reach using one of the biggies.

 

 

 

This post was shared in connection with Brand Points Plus, a FREE loyalty program for independent operators.  Easily collect points for amazing rewards, if you're not a member - we highly recommend you become one.

 

 

Learn more about Brand Points Plus

 

 

 

 

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Rae's Bistro weathers the COVID-19 storm...and so can you

Person carrying take out bags in hand.

 

Until March 2020, 4,800-sq. ft. fine dining restaurant Rae's Bistro, in North Kildonan, Winnipeg, was a popular spot offering fusion comfort food. Co-owned by Jillian Flynn and Danny Van Lancker, Rae's was noted for its 50-bottle wine list, 12 craft beers, scotch flights, and a premium atmosphere appealing to an adult clientele.

 

"We were known for our service and fresh feature chalkboard (rotated weekly), and guests would come in to hear our staff 'romance' the 10 features to them. It was almost a form of entertainment," says Danny.

 

Before March 17, Rae's Bistro did not offer any takeout or delivery

 

"We were just too busy to seek other revenue streams. We were on track to do $1.5 million in sales our second fiscal year. We were busy all the time (from 11 a.m. to midnight or later, if demand was there), with lineups, reservations, loud bar top, funky new age music, cool looking staff."

 

All that changed on Friday, the 13th - auspicious!

 

By Monday, March 16, sales had declined 60%. On the next day, Rae's Bistro closed to the public for dine in.

 

"On Monday, we reached out to the local health authority for advice and spent the day researching the science behind the pandemic and looking at the leading scientists' predictions/models. Pratt's (a great partner to have) obtained proper viral sanitation products for us.

 

"We jumped into action immediately. We laid off 22 staff by issuing emergency payroll and ROEs, and all staff applied for EI by Friday. Our first reaction was concern for the Rae’s family. It was completely devastating to think about taking away 22 people's source of income."

 

Ramp up for takeout

 

Rae's kept on a core staff – culinary, suppliers, the CFO – to adapt to the new reality. Within a matter of two days, working around the clock, the team approached their task with military precision. They created a takeout menu, bought Safeway thermal boxes to launch the service, designed banners for the windows, printed temporary menus, completely revamped the website to focus on the takeout menu, and branded takeout bags with personalized messages and menus.

 

All packaging is recycled brown paper, and even the takeout cutlery is wood, as the co-owners are committed to respecting the environment. (In fact, that is one of the reasons they had not considered offering takeout before.)

 

"By Friday, March 20th, we realized this might work, with two takeout specialists on staff, two drivers, and an additional kitchen employee we brought back. Much to our surprise, by Saturday, it was working and offering a flawless experience to all guests. Our delivery team is now our two veteran servers and bartender. We take responsibility for each order, text when on the way, and follow up with guests...treating them as a table and not a delivery. I personally close every box and write a thank you note to this day. I insist on a proper food chain of command. Safety officer/expo is my new position."

 

Create an effective menu

 

You need to accept that your regular menu likely will need adaptation. The Rae's team streamlined their menu to focus on high quality sandwiches, snacks, pizzas, pastas, steaks, ribs and fish.

 

"Stuff that travels well, and a lower price point for our entrées (not a discount, just not over-$30 items). People are going to be eating comfort, and more often now. We need to focus on our lower priced items without sacrificing our commitment to quality."

 

Rae's takeout/delivery challenges

 

Labour modelling, having to do it day by day as there is no past to use for forecasting.
Infrastructure, going from a single (phone) line to multiple lines with busy signal.
Communicating continued relevance to the public.
Delivery tracking, estimating and planning.
Installing mobile POS terminals for at-door payments.
Figuring out how to translate personalized service to guests in a different way.

 

Success!

 

By pivoting quickly and effectively, Rae's was able to turn around the operation from dine-in to takeout/delivery – and see significant sales increases.

 

From a modest beginning on March 18 to see if takeout and delivery would even work, Rae's is now up to nearly $7,000 in sales on the weekend and $1,000-$1,700 on weekdays. A scheduled postal drop of advertising may see even higher numbers.

 

 

Rae's top takeaways

 

  • Take care of your team first and foremost, do the right thing and lay them off so they can apply for EI.
  • Get proper sanitation measures in place. This is a serious thing, so don't do half measures. Get higher grade quat sanitizers.
  • Offer over-the-phone payment and curbside pickup.
  • Carefully consider your delivery model. Try to use existing staff for delivery rather than turning to a service that may charge a premium.
  • Get your social media game on. Do daily posts and reminders that you are open and relevant. Put some money into social media ads to farm page likes and get followers.
  • Use (old school) mail/email. Junk mail is now prime reading material, says Danny. Take advantage of this phenomenon, do flyers, post notices in your window.
  • Look at this crisis as an opportunity. "Remember that a bomb was just dropped on our industry. Independents are at a level playing field with mega chains. This is an opportunity to beat these entities to a new emerging market. Nothing will go back to normal. Don’t wait this out. Act now."
  • Be your best self. "Just get out there and be the best damn takeout and delivery business you can be."

Focus on the personal touches

  • Keep your brand front of mind. "Within a week we created the most amazing branding on our bags; every box, bag and container is sealed with Rae’s Bistro branded labelling. They also have spots for the guest's name. I got the idea when I opened a DVD this week and it had the frustrating plastic circle sticker on it. I couldn’t get it open, had to get up and find a knife. The feeling of 'this is brand new' as I sliced it was satisfying and I knew I had to bring this feeling to our guests.
  • Raise customers' spirits. "All bags get a takeout menu with a personalized message of good will." Treat your guests as a table and not a delivery. They will appreciate the service.
  • Talk up your menu, even though it's takeout. "We still romance our features over the phone to our guests."
  • Ramp up your social media. "We now have full-time social media and email monitoring. A daily feature wall is now posted daily with fresh content for the guests eating multiple times a week." But "old school" window signage is also attracting new takeout/delivery business. People have the time to stop and look.

 

This post was shared in connection with Brand Points Plus, a FREE loyalty program for independent operators.  Easily collect points for amazing rewards, if you're not a member - we highly recommend you become one.

 

 

Learn more about Brand Points Plus

 

 

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Sample Menu template from Must Have Menus

How to Design a Takeout Menu with MustHaveMenus

 

With takeout as the only option for hundreds of thousands of restaurants during this health crisis, it’s important to have a to-go menu that’s optimized for your food and your restaurant. MustHaveMenus, an online design tool for restaurants, makes building one quick and easy.

 

They have hundreds of professionally-designed takeout menu templates — for both trifold and half-page — that restaurants can customize in moments with their intuitive v3 editing software. If you run into any questions, you can simply hop into a chat window with one of their friendly and experienced customer service reps. They’ll help guide you through the process from start to finish, and give you best practices for takeout menus and more. 

 

To help combat the crisis facing restaurants, MustHaveMenus also put out a Coronavirus Response Kit with all their latest templates for takeout and delivery. It also includes helpful guides for pivoting overnight to a takeout business model, plus creative ideas and ready-made marketing materials to get the word out.

 

Sample take out Menus from Must Have Menus

 

MustHaveMenus’ Free Plan comes with unlimited access to their library of templates and design features, plus professional printing and social media marketing. Right now, they are offering their Pro Plan for just $12.95 a month (If you're a member of Brand Points Plus, there is a special offer for you!  If you're not a member, talk to your sales representative about how to join). That includes access to high-res downloads, removal of watermarks, organizing folders and more.

 

We recommend you use the software to design their menu, get a PDF file and send it to your local printer or Staples location to have it printed.  This will save on shipping and duty from the United States.

 

Visit MustHaveMenus

 

 

 

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Brand Points Plus logo with hand reaching for a take out order

Making Food Delivery Easy

Turning to Takeout

 

by Jane Auster

This post was written by Jane and the Brand Points Plus team.  If you're not a member, this is an amazing, no-cost loyalty program.  To learn more click here.

 

Flexible restaurant operators are converting from eat-in to takeout during the COVID-19 pandemic. And whether they're fine dining, QSR or casual eating establishments, they're finding it's not as hard as you may think to revamp an eat-in operation. Also, according to infectious disease specialist Isaac Bogoch, the risk of contracting the virus from takeout and delivery is "so extraordinarily small" – good news for consumers and restaurant operators alike.

 

Here are the top takeaways to ensure your takeout is a success:

 

Make ordering and payment a snap. Many diners, especially Millennials, are already conversant with online and app ordering. Make sure your web and app menu allows for easy ordering and that you're capable of receiving text message orders and app orders from mobile devices. Then add a pre-payment option to make the whole process seamless. Companies like cloud-based commerce platform Lightspeed POS Inc. have set up special resources during the crisis to help restaurants who are converting operations to takeout and delivery.

 

Change up your restaurant layout. Without the need to provide tables and chairs for traditional eat-in dining, you can easily convert that space into takeout/delivery work stations. Think assembly line in the way you organize your takeout operation.

 

Revisit your staffing. There's no doubt you will not need the same number of employees as a full-service restaurant requires. But you will want to retain as many as possible to keep you up and running professionally and prepare for a return to more normal operations. Now is the time to redeploy your talent. You'll still need cooks (short order especially), cleaners, order takers and payment processors, delivery staff, and quality control personnel. You may also need a person assigned specifically to answer customer questions about your menu, takeout and delivery options, payment, and so on.

 

Carefully consider your menu. Not everything on your regular menu will be suitable for takeout and delivery. A takeout menu is more a snapshot of your full offerings. Confine your takeout to top sellers (as long they're not too elaborate or time-consuming to prepare), dishes that will transport well in takeout and delivery, and entries that will still give you a good return on investment.

 

Use the right packaging for the job. No one likes to pick up or receive soggy, leaking, messy or unattractive food packages. Companies like W. Ralston, Novolex and Polar Pak feature packaging specifically for foodservice operations that include takeout and delivery, and also packaging that's size-appropriate. “The packaging a French fry requires for travel is different than a pasta dish. And packaging will also depend on the miles or time it needs to travel,” says John Veder, director of innovation - paper for Novolex North America. Also consider packaging that can be easily reheated without having to be transferred to other dishes.

 

“With takeout, the customer is in control of when that food is consumed,” says Veder. “For delivery, the customer is at home, waiting. Their expectation is that the food is ready to eat. Not soggy. Not cold.”

 

For more info:

View Flanagan's Take Out Essentials catalogue.

 

Image of Flanagan Take Out Essentials Guide

 

Make delivery easy. "Delivery was a growing market segment prior to COVID-19," says foodservice principal Jeff Dover of fsStrategy Inc. "Restaurants have been adjusting delivery menus to include products that hold well and working on takeout containers that hold the food well. Increasingly, they are looking for tamper proof containers. If a restaurant hasn't worked through this yet, they may want to think about it before going full delivery. If they don't normally do takeout or delivery, they will need to get the packaging."  

 

If you're new to delivery, you may want to partner with an established foodservice delivery company like Uber Eats, DoorDash, Foodora, or Skip the Dishes. Uber Eats has announced that the company is waiving its normal delivery fees for customers who order from independent restaurants and allowing restaurants to receive payment daily instead of on a regular billing cycle in order to help their cash flow. Door Dash has said it will be not be collecting service fees for the first 30 days for a new restaurant client. Restaurants who partner with delivery services also benefit from the online exposure on food delivery sites.

 

Do it yourself? Some restaurants are choosing to do their own delivery by training their regular waitstaff to become delivery door-dashers. In the short term this is a great way to continue employing front-of-house staff. But don't forget to check your insurance to make sure your staff are covered for "other" employment within your operation.

 

Plus, ask yourself these questions:

 

What kind of vehicle will you need? Motorized, bike delivery, or via public transit?
What's your radius? How far are you willing to travel for your customers? During this difficult period, literally going the extra mile will make a huge difference and help retain loyalty.


How's your branding? What kind of branding will you use to stand out? The big food delivery companies are able to advertise themselves through their distinctive, logo-ed carry-on packaging. Like the big guys, your new visual identity as takeout and delivery food providers matters. Consider branding your takeout packaging with your company logo and tagline or marketing messages. Market and promote the service on your website as well.

 

Ramp up your social media. Never has your social media been more important. It's your direct conduit to customers, a way to let them know that you are still in business and you value their patronage and support. If you're adding takeout and delivery, you need to spread the word. Social media such as Instagram, Facebook and other community pages can let people know you are open and active. Don't be afraid of doing something different and a little crazy on your Instagram. Get personal, do a virtual meal in your restaurant and film it, sing an aria outside your restaurant and post to your Instagram.

 

You may also want to create an old-fashioned paper flyer with your takeout menu and have a staff member deliver it to your local area. Sometimes old school is the best school. The point is to communicate as often as you can with customers to keep them close. And don't forget to thank them. They want to help.

 

Get creative. Some clever restaurants are throwing in extras with customers' takeout and delivery orders. Have any logo-ed t-shirts on hand? Send one with each order. Do you make any branded food items for sale, such as jams? Add one to each order. A restaurant in Toronto is even offering to throw in a roll of toilet paper to food orders made through Uber Eats.

 

 

 

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Appetizing picture of burger and fries

Menu change can be daunting.

 

But using LTOs (limited time offers) can provide a culinary playground for adding innovation without the commitment. Successfully executing an LTO offers a potential sales lift of as much as 20%, and can bring back old customers while enticing new ones.

 

LTOs are an opportunity to offer your customers a new experience while giving your operation a great testing ground and increasing your marketing opportunities.

 

So, how do you make LTOs work for you?

Start with Purpose

First ask yourself why you are you adding an LTO. If you don’t know what you want from it—new customers, increased check size, acceptance of bolder flavours on the full menu—how will you know it was successful?

 

Shalit Foods Business Development Chef Kira Smith reminds us that to be successful, “You really have to do LTOs mindfully.” The seasoned chef, who works directly with operators to integrate new and engaging ingredients and menu items, understands the formula to win big.

 

Smith remembers a Mini Cheesecake Dessert Parfait a casual chain in Western Canada used as an LTO that was so tasty it moved from temporary to the permanent menu. Why did it work? “It fit with consumer interest, was easy to execute, was within their back-of-house capabilities…and was profitable,” she notes.

 

“There’s no point in doing an LTO if you can’t do it well,” Smith stresses. “And it must be profitable. Because what if it is successful? If it can't be done profitably don't add it.”

 

Plan and Execute

“For an LTO to be successful, an operation must plan in advance,” notes Kyla Touri, corporate chef, Canada, for Unilever Food Solutions. “Operators must also be attuned to trending menu items, product/ingredient availability, and, most importantly, maintaining their brand image.”

 

Push at the boundaries acceptable to your customers’ preferences by experimenting with bold flavours or new cuisines. Change doesn’t have to be crazy. Start smaller and work up to bigger flavour experiences. 

 

There is more than just the food to consider. LTOs also offer important marketing possibilities. Think of them as conversation starters: at the table or counter, online, via social media, and business to business. Plus they’re an opportunity to increase engagement with your customers and employees. Ensure the message about your LTO is clear and consistent across all your communication channels. 

 

Expect to increase the pantry list, add to the skillset and push the kitchen’s ability to execute the LTO. Your entire team needs in on the plan to ensure consistency without compromising the existing full menu.

 

Get the Timing Right

The frequency with which you implement LTOs will depend on your operation. However, at a minimum, Tuori suggests, “Every season. This timing gives an opportunity to plan properly and execute.”

 

Customers are programmed to search for change seasonally. So a seasonal LTO naturally allows for use of local and seasonal ingredients that might be too expensive to use on a full menu.

 

LTOs need a defined end date. “There is power in scarcity,” says Kira Smith. Use your customers’ fear of missing out to your advantage and time your LTO. It doesn't mean you can't make it a permanent addition – adding an LTO to the full menu gives you yet another conversation starter.

 

Talk and Listen, Measure Results

As you wipe your brow and flop in a dining chair on the final day of your wildly successful LTO, remember you aren’t finished yet. Due diligence is necessary. Was all the extra work worth it?

 

Talk with your customers and your front and back of house employees. They will have something to say. Listen and learn from their observations. “If you are communicating about your LTO, which you should be, you have to follow up,” Smith advises. Listen to the praise (and criticism) and respond.

 

Consider using a social media survey to ask your customers for their feedback. Offering a gift card to your restaurant will sweeten the incentive for them to volunteer useful comments – and come back for another meal.

 

Finally, return to the original purpose of your LTO. Did it meet your criteria? If not, what didn’t work? How would you do it differently next time? If you did meet your goals, pat yourself on the back and then start planning the next one. And if you won BIG going off menu, you might need to change your old menu after all. Now are you ready for the playground?

 

A seasonal LTO naturally allows for use of local and seasonal ingredients that might be too expensive to use on a full menu.

 

Top tips to roll out a successful LTO

  • Give your LTO ample planning time as you may need to source new ingredients, plan for menu changes, and pay for advertising.
  • Consider using customer comment cards, then focus on providing something new that people want.
  • Utilize social media and your restaurant’s email marketing as a tool to promote your limited time offer.
  • Keep it simple. LTOs don’t need to be complicated; the easier they are to describe, promote and sell, the better.

 

Article by Cherie Thompson

 

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Frozen ProduceFlanagan Foodservice Blog Frozen Produce

By Alasko Foods

 

 

When it comes to nutrition, fruits and vegetables have always been the go-to in terms of healthy eating. Tried and true, their combination of practicality, taste, and nutritional benefit are second to none. However, frozen rather than fresh produce has several unique benefits which make them a clear choice for the resourceful restaurant operator.

 

Here are five reasons why:

 

1) Always in season

Frozen fruit is actually richer in nutrients on average than their fresh counterparts, according to a study by the University of California-Davis.¹ This is because of its enhanced preservation through a unique freezing method. Companies like Alasko, which utilize IQF (individual quick freezing) technology, do so because it locks in freshness, flavour, colour, and taste.

 

Individual quick freezing takes single pieces of food and, as the name suggests, freezes them individually at extremely low temperatures. This prevents the formation of large ice crystals that conventional freezing would cause, and preserves the high-quality state that the food is currently in.

 

IQF fruits and vegetables are always in season, simply because that’s the state at which they are frozen in.

 

2) Always available

Thanks to worldwide sourcing—which market leaders such as Alasko benefit from due to their extensive global supply network—it is feasible to obtain the best possible product from whichever region it happens to be currently in-season. Using IQF technology, the produce that ends up in your recipe and menu items is as fresh as it was when picked.

 

3) Convenience

Frozen produce has a lot more potential to it than meets the eye.

 

Rather than having to peel, chop, and prepare a fresh fruit or vegetable, IQF produce is frozen in a state that is ready to use. Simply toss fruits in a blender to make a smoothie, chop them up and make a salsa, or incorporate them into a smoothie bowl. Easily mix vegetables into a stir fry or casserole, or into a dip.

 

The possibilities are extensive!

 

4) Extended life

The disadvantage of fresh produce is that it needs to be consumed in a certain window of time before it starts to become overripe. This can put a lot of pressure for you to make use of it as quickly as possible. (Granted, frozen produce still has this window as well, but it is far lengthier—typically 24 months, as opposed to a week or so.²)

 

Simply take out the portion you need, and put the rest away where it will remain frozen and unspoiled.

 

5) Cost efficient

Using frozen fruits and vegetables minimizes your expenses in the areas of labour and food waste. Frozen produce is already cut, washed, and ready to toss in a recipe, and unused quantities can be put right back into the freezer. Even better, frozen produce can be less costly than their fresh counterparts.³

 

When it comes to the ingredients to put in your recipes, you are constantly faced with choice. Frozen fruits and vegetables have several benefits that are often overlooked in comparison to the alternatives. Whether it’s the heightened nutrition, convenience, or cheaper cost: frozen fruits and vegetables are definitely worth it.

 

For delicious IQF products to use in your next recipe, contact your Flanagan Foodservice sales representative or call our Customer Relations team at 1-855-FLANAGAN.

 

About Alasko

Alasko Foods is a leader in global sourcing of conventional and organic frozen fruits and vegetables, with a reputation for providing superior, world class service to customers across Canada, the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Committed to delivering the safest and highest quality products, without compromise, Alasko Foods will source, process, pack, label, brand and distribute the best fresh-frozen fruits and vegetables the world has to offer. Learn more at alasko.com.

 

References:

[1] Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture c 87:930–944

[2] U.S. Food & Drug Administration, 2015; Foodsafety.gov

[3] United Stated Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 2016

 

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Close up butternut squash soup

 

Working with soup bases can save you time, labour and money. Two experts share their chef tips and soup-er recipes. 

 

A good soup base can be an immeasurable asset to the foodservice kitchen. It adds depth of flavour to dishes, can be built upon to create signature recipes and eliminates the cost of raw ingredients required to make a consistently flavourful stock.

 

There are many advantages to using a soup base as the platform for soup innovation:

 

1. Time- and labour-saving

Making the switch from scratch recipes to “speed scratch” recipes, including those using and building on a good soup base can mean significant time and labour savings for operators. “Scratch made stocks, and sauces derived from these stocks, can take hours of skilled labour,” says Kyla Tuori, corporate chef at Unilever Food Solutions.

 

“The cost of raw ingredients used to make a consistent flavourful stock can be a hassle, as well as the storage needed for these raw ingredients.”

 

2. Cost-saving

On the rising cost of labour across North America, Gerald Drummond, executive chef, North American Foodservice, Campbell Soup Company, says, “As minimums continue to increase, chefs and operators need to be creative in driving down costs while continuing to give customers creativity. It’s always a delicate balancing act.

 

3. Inventory-saving

“Having a good-tasting and well-balanced base helps the operator have greater variety on the menu while not increasing their inventory,” Chef Gerald continues. “It allows for the ability to offer multiple menu items while using the same product, as well as being able to stay relevant when it comes to food trends.”

 

4. Creative

What makes a good soup base? Beyond lending great flavour and aroma to dishes, Chef Kyla says, “a good commercial base is a concentrated product meant to be diluted to mimic a scratch-made stock (yet is also) so much more, and can be used for seasoning, marinating, and enhancing other scratch-made recipes.”

 

When it comes to which base(s) to choose, knowing what you want to achieve will help dictate what is important to look for. “Not all soup bases are created equal, or alike,” she continues. “With the variety of formats, ingredient decks, and (nutritional or special diet) claims, there is a base for every application and operator.”

 

5. Versatile

Beyond soup, many soup bases can be used in a variety of applications. Chef Gerald suggests turning a cream soup base into sauce for flatbread or pizza, Alfredo sauce for pasta or as a rich and flavourful base for chicken pot pie. “Powder bases can be used in their raw form for seasoning dishes,” says Chef Kyla. “Since these bases are often ‘salt first’ in the ingredient decks, they can add a lot of flavour where it may otherwise be lacking.

 

“Paste bases, due to their consistency and ‘ingredient/meat first’ ingredient decks, are great for rubs and marinades,” she adds. “They will adhere easily to the item that you are marinating and infuse it with flavours. Liquid concentrated bases can be used for seasoning dishes, marinating, glazing, and as a finishing enhancer. They are the most versatile of bases due to their consistency and flavour complexity.”

 

It's time to soup up your creativity in the kitchen, as well as your profit margin, with the addition of soup bases.

 

A simple way to make soups feel fresh

Garnishing is a simple way to make soups feel fresher, more premium and more delicious. Patrons perceive garnished soups as higher value, so you can charge up to 25% more!

 

Step up your presentation with these garnishing ideas using Campbell’s Signature Soups:

 

Beef Pot Roast

Add texture with sautéed garlic chips, crouton lardons, creamy aioli or horseradish. Sprinkle with minced thyme and marjoram for extra flavour.

 

Broccoli Cheddar

Go for the green with broccoli florets, green onions or chives. Add indulgence with sharp Cheddar cheese crisps.

 

Buffalo Style Chicken with Blue Cheese

Top with sour cream and minced chives. Or make it hearty with sliced chicken tenders, hot sauce and blue cheese crumble.

 

Chicken Corn Chowder with Sweet Peppers

Amp up the colour contrast with diced red pepper, fresh corn kernels or chopped chives.

 

Chicken Tortilla

Up the authenticity with tortilla strips, sour cream, queso fresco or avocado.

 

Classic Chicken Noodle

Garnish with chopped parsley or a parsley sprig for a pop of flavour and colour. Add rotisserie pulled chicken or fried noodles for culinary flair.

 

Harvest Butternut Squash

Amp up the flavour with toasted pumpkin seeds, butternut squash frites and a dollop of crème fraîche.

 

Hearty Beef Chili with Beans

Balance the spice with sour cream or shredded Cheddar. Brighten the bowl with scallions, green onions or chives.

 

Loaded Baked Potato

Re-load with Cheddar, sour cream, bacon, green onions, chives or waffled fries.

 

Sautéed Mushroom and Onion Bisque

Add key ingredients like sautéed mushrooms, fried or diced onions or leeks.

 

Southwestern Vegetarian Chili

Top with fresh avocado and tortilla strips, sour cream and minced cilantro for authentic flavour.

 

Tomato Bisque with Basil

Add indulgence with sour cream, tomato concasse or fresh basil.

 

Vegan Vegetable

Add freshness with julienned carrots, diced smoked or sautéed tomatoes, and roasted red peppers in balsamic syrup.

 

By Alison Kent

 

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