Though August is traditionally a slow month for restaurants, this month is proving to be another anomaly. Travelers are again sticking closer to home, and with the increase of potential variants, portions of the public are abstaining from in-door restaurant dining as well.

Carry-out and delivery, however, is where operators can still manage growth to their bottom lines. Keep it creative and delicious, and you can stand out from the pack of other options available.

What to Avoid

Though we all know to take advantage of the summer’s bounty of fresh vegetables and produce, providing lighter, fresher recipes, and menu options, we sometimes forget that seasonality also relates to proteins. Put the focus on poultry, seafood, and lamb—which is at its peak in summer. Remember that any restaurant dish, even when in season, might not translate well outside your doors, but if you keep it light and flavorful, customers won’t be disappointed.

Chill Out

We’d be hard-pressed to think of a better summer delivery option than a leafy green salad filled with fantastic ingredients like shucked corn, roasted beets, cherries or peaches, and a fantastic cheese (dressing always on the side, of course). Heirloom tomatoes, coming into their peak, make an amazing carry-out caprese. Cool and refreshing chilled soups, like gazpacho or corn, make delightful options to-go. Keep these items precisely at their serving temperature until they head out the door and always pack separately from hot items. This is especially important with raw seafood like crudos, tartares, and sashimi dishes.

The Great Outdoors

Many customers will be enjoying their meal at an outdoor event. Market your menu specifically to these experiences, providing charcuterie boards brimming with meats, cheeses, and accoutrements that can be easily assembled while sitting on a blanket. This is also the perfect opportunity to focus on crudité platters. Expertly sliced carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, fennel, green beans—you name it—served at their prime with dipping sauces make any outside evening a pleasure. Make sure to capitalize on bottled cocktails to-go and crisp, summery wine options, which provide one-stop shopping for the guest and a nice boost to check averages.

Presentation, Presentation, Presentation

Stand out in your packaging and details. Whether it's a giant carry-out box printed to look like an 80s boom box (with a QR code for a special curated playlist) or individual TV trays, the blow-away factor of adding some unexpected pizazz will make any special carry-out or delivery experience something to be celebrated—and promoted on your customers’ Instagram feeds. Selling fresh fruit pies? Include a branded pie stand. Offering a super-premium seafood tower? Various disposable bowls and plates (with pellet ice provided) will knock it out of the park. Always remember that your carry-out and delivery programs are key marketing pulse points for your restaurant overall, and the return on investment is getting guests back through your doors when summer passes and the weather inevitably cools again.

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