Innovating the future of food delivery...


Innovation, Sustainability and Food Safety in the Age of Delivery

Restaurant Design in the Age of Food Delivery

The exponential growth in home food delivery is changing not only the way we purchase and consume food, it is also changing the way Restaurants and Food Retailers design and build their restaurants and shops.

With some restaurants and food retailers garnering more than a third of their sales from delivery, it was only a matter of time before this fact began to determine key aspects of the overall design of the workspace. If a third of your production is being set aside for collection by delivery drivers, you are bound to want this to be managed as efficiently as possible.

Quick Serve Restaurants (QSRs), Foodservice Operations and Delivery

Although the much needed changes to restaurant design might be thought to be substantial, they are in fact rather straightforward. Perhaps the most obvious change and one which can readily be seen in the service area or front of house of restaurants, is the creation of a dedicated delivery collection point. This space is used for a number of purposes including a.) holding of finished packaged product, b.) management of order and collection data – often through systems provided by the major Delivery Service providers, c.) meeting point for drivers collecting delivery orders, d.) collection point for pre-orders (click and collect), and e.) key communication area for orders and returns.

The combination of Rapid Heating/Cooking Technology, Hot Holding Cabinets and New Traceability Systems is being widely adopted as a new model for Food Delivery Services….

Rapid Heating Technologies and Production Efficiency

Another key change to the service and operational design of restaurants is taking place in the back of house production area (kitchen). Here, you will often find a dedicated space where specialist equipment for the rapid re-heating, packaging and tracking of food delivery product is kept. As demand increases for food delivery product, many restaurants and food retailers are now turning to the operational models of Quick Serve Restaurants (QSRs) for inspiration, with the aim of introducing essential time-saving techniques. Importantly, QSRs often rely upon pre-cooked and pre-assembled product to speed up their production process. Pre-assembled product, such as pre-cut and pre-cooked items, when combined with rapid heating/cooking technology can truly speed up the production process to seconds per item rather than minutes per item. With many well established restaurants now beginning to rely on these techniques to help them meet the increasing demand for delivered food product, it it likely that this trend will continue.

Hot Holding Merchandisers and Display Cabinets

In addition to the above, innovation is also being seen in two important areas of foodservice operation that are likely to accelerate the changes we have already noted in restaurant design. The first is the introduction of operationally advanced, efficient and ergonomically designed Hot Holding Cabinets for hot food product (nearly 80% of all delivered food product is hot). The urgent need for this capability (referred to in the industry as hot-holding) is clear to those restaurant staff managing food delivery services. It is well known that food delivery orders are regularly placed and expected at specific and often confined intervals during the day. In order to meet the demand during these intervals (12:00 PM – 2:00 PM, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM), restaurant production must be done quickly and efficiently. Restaurants will in fact often need to anticipate the orders that they receive. To manage these very busy periods efficiently, they often resort to production in batches which must then be kept hot (>63C). Quick and efficient batch production will also mean that the product must be stored. To manage this, restaurants now require hot holding units that have the capability to hold hot food product at the correct temperature (>63C) and under the right conditions and without damaging the food product (there are several manufacturers). Depending on when the order was placed, the product will need to be kept hot and often for an extended period of time.

Another important criteria for the design and operation of Hot Holding Cabinets is that they must be easily accessible and set up in such a way that products can be identified and removed at ease. Hot Food Display Cabinets have been available for many years but it is only now that they are being adapted for food delivery services.

RFID and Food Traceability Systems

The second innovation stems from the need to track food delivery items from the time of production to the time of receipt by the customer. To aid this, a recent technology (RFID) that is better known for its use in tracking retail items in shops, is beginning to be put to use. RFID technology, when used in conjunction with an appropriately designed Food Delivery System, provides a means for tracking and recalling, if necessary, any food item sent out for delivery. This combination of technology when used correctly can also ensure that food delivery items are only ever delivered to the individual who ordered them. This capability addresses one of the most pronounced and serious risks currently faced by most if not all food delivery services.

With Restaurant design undergoing rapid change in response to the uptake of Delivery, we are expecting even further and more dramatic changes in the next few years.

Food on the Move Today provides advice to organisations in both the public and private sectors on the equipment, processes and operations mentioned above. You can reach us at or or through the Food Systems Network.

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