Emphasizing carryout can save money for the restaurant while still providing convenience for customers.

Restaurant Carryout Is Hot and Getting Hotter

Customers want delivered food and online ordering more and more these days, but the demand for restaurant carryout keeps growing, too, says research firm the NPD Group.

“By far, over the last five years, the greatest source of growth [in the industry] is digitally ordered carryout,” David Portalin, NPD Group’s vice president and foodservice industry advisor, says in a recent Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN) article.

NPD reports that carryout orders placed digitally have gone up 279 percent in the last five years. Meanwhile, non-digital orders for carryout and delivery haven’t grown at all.

Related: Adding a Drive-Thru Service Can Turn a Small Carryout Pizzeria into a Powerhouse

Due to the added expense of paying drivers, fuel, insurance and third-party fees, delivery can cut into a pizzeria’s margins. Not so with carryout—customers just place their orders online and pick them up when they’re ready.

This photo illustrates popularity of Saladworks
The Saladworks chain redesigned its stores to optimize carryout as well as dine-in options for its customers.

How do you boost your capacity for carryout? NRN reports that Saladworks, based in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, has improved its once-inefficient system by redesigning its stores to include designated pickup stations where customers can get in and out fast. “Carryout orders that don’t have a designated space end up everywhere,” Jena Henderson, Saladworks’ VP of growth, told NRN.

Related: The First Domino’s in Sweden Emphasizes Restaurant Carryout Over Delivery

Saladworks places carryout and delivery orders on shelves situated separately from the regular service area. The chain also implemented a “rotational service flow” model, whereby one staffer handles each order—whether digital or in-person—from start to finish all the way down the line, rather than multiple staffers building part of each order.

The result: Whereas 60-70 percent of Saladworks’ business was dine-in just five years ago, now carryout and delivery make up 60-70 percent of its business.