Many restaurants are changing their focus from traditional dining to “To Go” orders and catering. This comes due to a major shift in the American consumer's eating habits. Consumers are looking for a quick, delicious meal that they don't have to prepare themselves. Many businesses have found that they can be successful in the lunch hour by offering take out options, as this article from Nation's Restaurant News points out. Additionally, restaurants are finding they are able to serve more customers efficiently by offering this quick style dining option, as coworkers pick up food for multiple employees at the office, parents for the kids at home, and others for their friends.
Even in our own office, we often order catering for our meetings, rather than holding a meeting externally in a restaurant. Catering for large parties is another way this new trend is helping businesses make a profit. Many of the large catering orders are out the door before the normal sit-down lunch rush, so restaurants are able to continue providing the same level of service to typical dining customers. Even large chains such as Olive Garden have thrived in this new market. A large percentage of their profit now comes through “To Go” ordering.
Some restaurants are testing the profitability of offering a delivery service in addition to pick up orders. This further increases the convenience of purchasing food out, and may ultimately lead to more sales. This trend seems to be sticking, so it may be time for your restaurant to offer these services!