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A Moveable Feast

A Moveable Feast

Great grab ‘n go items provide tasty treats for busy customers on the run.

Dean Wright
Director of Dining
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT

“The whole concept of grab ‘n go should be really tasty and nutritious, have a great perceived value, and it has to be truly fast: picking it up, going to the cashier, then the students get back out to work on their laptops.

“Make sure you have hot AND cold. The cold is easy — rice pudding, gelatin cups, tapioca — but with the hot you can get creative, and yet keep it very simple. We have a beans ‘n weenies grab ‘n go item for 99 cents that flies off the shelves. We're finding the old, inexpensive comfort foods are what students are really looking for. Mashed potatoes with gravy, mac ‘n cheese, a rice bowl, anything that will hold for one and a half to two hours in a hot container is great.

“Hot dogs are very popular. We have Nathan's Famous hot dogs at some locations on campus, and we're finding it's that whole street food thing now, where you have a whole meal in your hand. The hot dogs are on a roller grill, and students grab them with tongs, then they get a bun and we have all the toppings: pickle relish, onions, jalapeno peppers, banana peppers, a hot ‘n sweet barbecue sauce and our secret sauce.

“We went through a period where grab ‘n go just meant hoagies, and they are still popular, but now people want something hot and even faster. That's where the hot dogs and the beans ‘n weenies came in. Overall, people want comfort, quality and value in grab ‘n go.”

Roberto Tepanhoya
JouJou Café
New York Presbyterian Hospital
New York, NY

“The most popular of our grab ‘n go gourmet sandwiches would be hard to say. They're all really good! The turkey and avocado sandwich is a favorite, though. We also serve one called Chicken Ratatouille with tomatoes, red peppers and other veggies on ciabatta bread.

“We have some seasonal sandwiches. For winter, we just came out with the Mexican Tuna Wrap, which includes tuna, kidney beans and Tabasco sauce — that warms you up on a cold day.

“The sandwiches look great and they're made fresh in a central kitchen every day. On average we make about 250 sandwiches a day.

“The customer grabs a sandwich from the open case, and then they have the option for us to heat it up for them on the grill. Most people like that option.

“The best thing about grab ‘n go? When a customer is placing their order, they get to see and feel the sandwich so they know exactly what they are getting. It makes the café easier to operate and the process is faster.

“For example, we have a Turkey Florentine wrap that has almonds and cheddar. If you are allergic to nuts or you don't like cheddar, you can find out right away from the list of ingredients. No one has to ask us, because it's right there.”

Toby SchaferRegional Marketing Manager
Chartwells Dining Services
Grand Rapids, MI

“At East Grand Rapids High School in Michigan, it's an affluent area with a one-hour lunch and an open campus. Right across the street, there are five high-end, fast-casual restaurants and a Starbucks. We have to be at that level in order to compete.

“Since we started with Outtakes, the Compass company brand that combines speedy service with whole meals, we've increased our participation by 50 to 100 meals a day.

“Outtakes, with its kiosks and relaxed atmosphere, was developed for B&I, and we saw the opportunity at the high school level. We have built kiosks in ‘dead space' at five schools in the Great Lakes region, with three scheduled for 2009. We've taken the ‘snack room’ and turned it into an experience that's comparable to that Starbucks or Qdoba that the kids want. We get a lot of feedback that we now look like the places where kids are eating outside of school.

“It differs from B&I in terms of price points, and we focus on meeting the meal requirements and making sure it's nutritionally sound.

“We're always adapting our menu. All of our grab ‘n go sandwiches do especially well. Sandwiches usually come with a vegetable or fruit, to make more of a meal. Salads, and fruit and yogurt also do very well.”

Lynne Ometer, MS, MHA, RD
Director, Food & Nutrition Services
Emory Hospitals
Atlanta, GA

“At Crawford-Long Hospital, we put our milk containers, bottled smoothies, strawberry dessert cups, pre-packaged puddings and gelatin, and small cups of applesauce in a round refrigerated unit (see photo page 52).

“Stocking these types of items is labor saving, although we do also have a lot of house-made grab ‘n go selections. The strawberry dessert cups have been popular for years. My staff says a lot of older people always buy the pudding cups and gelatin cups. These items are easy to stock and convenient for people to pick up and to literally ‘grab and go.’

“In general, my advice for grab ‘n go is that like anything, merchandising has a lot to do with it. In terms of food that you package yourself, the more attractive you can make it look, the better.”

“Grab ‘n go items should look upscale and fresh. Handwritten labels won't do as well as professionally done printed labels. It's all about image, so put that effort into merchandising.

“Consistency is very important, also. Each package of a certain item should look the same — have the same look, same amount and same presentation. Otherwise, people will be picking up each package, trying to get the best one.

“And of course there's the basics: carefully date, rotate, and keep everything fresh.”

Mac ‘n Cheese Rice Bowl Mexican Tuna Wrap “Beanie Weenies” Hot Dogs with all the Fixins Mashed Potatoes Ciabatta Bread Sandwiches Roasted Chicken & Vegetables Buffalo Chicken Wrap Turkey & Avocado Sandwich Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits Asian Salad Chicken Pesto Wrap Gelatin Cups Sushi Pizza (yes, it sells even cold!) Smoothies Beverages
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