Over the past year or so, many restaurants have found it difficult to shift into an operating mode focused more on takeout and delivery than on in-house dining. But that shouldn’t be a total surprise from a historical perspective, says Ryan Catarozoli, Key Accounts Sales Manager for Hatco. When it comes to increased takeout and delivery, “we were already moving into that space. If you look back to 2017-2019, it was one of the fastest-growing spaces for all restaurants.” But pizza restaurants had a jump on this trend, as many had already been focused more on takeout than on dining in.
What might not have been as easy to predict is the huge rise in third-party delivery services and the effect they have had on operations and costs. The popularity of these services — and the fees they charge — can force operators to make tough decisions, says Catarozoli. “You’ve got to figure out whether it’s more lucrative for you to forego some of the business and just utilize your own delivery system.” That can be one more cost pressure on an already tightly squeezed bottom line.
Like any other operation offering takeout, pizza restaurants have to be especially careful about food safety — not only in the actual practice offood safety, but in “the perception that no one else has handled my food,” says Catarozoli. “The impression that ‘my food hasn’t been touched by anybody’ is critically important in the pizza segment, maybe more so than a lot of the others.”
Finally, labor may be the biggest challenge facing pizza restaurants. While it’s difficult nowadays to find trained kitchen staff, artisanal pizza “almost gets into fine dining, where you have to have a chef who really knows what they’re doing,” he says.
The Right Products
Hatco has many products to help operators get past these challenges and operate efficiently. For example, the Flav-R 2-Go® Pizza Locker System holds hot pizza orders with quick, secure access. Customers or delivery drivers can come in, enter a code to access their specific locker, retrieve product and make a “smooth getaway” without having to wait in line. That saves time for both customers and staff.
The Glo-Ray 2-Go™ line of heated shelving was designed specifically with delivery and takeout in mind. The 20-inch deep shelves easily fit large pizza boxes or other to-go containers, and the units feature a touchscreen control with a digital readout that displays the separate heat and timer for each shelf.
Hatco’s Flav-R-Savor® Tall Dry Holding Cabinets are perfect for pizza restaurants. The eight shelves can hold up to 16 boxed pizzas or eight bagged pizzas. With diffused heat that’s maintained evenly throughout the cabinet, pizza always stays hot and delicious-tasting.
These and many other Hatco products are helping pizza operators — and other restaurateurs — survive and even thrive in these challenging times.