Retail Taking a Bigger Share

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Mall Foodcourt

If it seems as if you aren’t seeing quite as many customers
lately, you may be correct. The Nation’s Restaurant News has been on top of
this development citing that retail outlets have made a serious bid for guests
who don’t want the hassle of cooking, but still want a good meal. When you
consider that consumer dollars are limited, the battle is bound to become
fierce.


Ready to Eat

While few retail locations can compete with a restaurant for
a real dining experience, many are sacrificing some floor space for a seating
area. With a limited selection of foods and lower prices as well as
ready-to-eat options, consumers don’t have to worry about menu overload. But it
goes without saying that the quality isn’t the same. Here are some ways to compete with this
growing trend.


Make Take-Out
Available

If you don’t have a take-out menu yet, it is time to put one
together. One of the biggest advantages people cite for choosing prepared food
at the market is speed. Your take-out menu doesn’t have to include everything
on your regular menu; rather, stick to things that transport well and can be
reheated without losing quality.

Set up your restaurant dining furniture outside by your take-out
area for those who want to grab food and eat right away. You may not be able to
entice a busy mother with three children in for a full scale sit down meal, but
if she can get an easy meal at a take-out window and sit for a few minutes with
her brood before the next activity, she is more likely to remember you when she
wants the full experience.


Consider Setting Up a
Prepared Food Section

For those who don’t want to order off a set menu, prepared
food areas are ideal. Not unlike a
buffet, you can set this up separately from the main dining area. People can
pick their portion size, their selections, and accompaniments without losing
out on the portability of a traditional take out window. Many grocery stores are offering this kind of
service, and there is no reason you can’t dedicate a small area of your
restaurant to this as well.


Use Patio Space for
Portability

Perhaps the most attractive thing to people on the go, after
portability, is a convenient area where they can sit and eat their selections
before they get back in their cars. Not unlike the mother described before,
business people, students, and others often prefer to sit and eat their meal at
a table.

If you have a patio, divide it and designate a small section
for your grab-and-go crowd. A few café tables, an awning, and trash cans are
all you need to make this a reality.

Adapting to changing eating patterns will help keep your
restaurant current and successful. All it takes is a few changes to trump
whatever the local market is trying to offer.