foodservice saving

National chain saves big with a simple servingware update

With food costs on the rise and pressure from their customer base not to raise menu prices, one national chain of buffet restaurants was looking for ways to cut food costs.

The search for savings took place, in part, during The NAFEM Show 2013, during which representatives from the chain discovered a line of mini stainless steel fry pans. New to the marketplace, the pans were developed to enhance the presentation of small, individual food servings – a trend in servingware that has maintained momentum across the industry.

Discussions commenced about how the pan might be able to not only boost buffet aesthetics, but also possibly cut down on the amount of food that customers heaped onto their trays. As with most buffet concepts, customers of the chain served themselves from large pans of food – contributing to a significant amount of uneaten food (and unnecessary food costs). Reps from the chain were intrigued at the prospect of less waste – and decided to move forward with a 12-store test. During the trial period, stores would serve two of the chain’s most popular dishes, lasagna and chicken, in 3 oz. portions in the mini stainless steel fry pans.

(watch the video below)

The test results were staggering. Not only did the chain receive high marks from its customers on the new food presentation, but it also cut food costs significantly. As expected, reps from the chain noticed a large reduction in the amount of food customers were taking but not finishing. What’s more, the pre-portioned pan servings made for less food being placed on the buffet at a time than before, leading to less waste due to food sitting for too long (and having to be discarded for safety reasons).

After the successful trial, executives at the chain wasted no time rolling out the mini pan system-wide – resulting in a 30 percent cost reduction in food costs for the items served in the pans; initial savings quickly covered the $250,000 investment the chain made in the new servingware.

This chain found a game-changer in a tiny serving pan at The NAFEM Show. Read about other E&S Success Stories that will be on display at The NAFEM Show, Feb. 7-9, 2019 in Orlando, Fla.

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