On the list of fresh thinking due to the COVID pandemic is how to serve condiments to dine-in customers. Portion control packets and cups were an easy answer for take-out and delivery customers. But how can you offer ketchup and other condiments when the dine-in customer may worry about touching the squeeze bottle at their table?
For decades Red Gold has been that bottle of table ketchup that customers reached for along with other national brands. What consumers don’t know is that it has been a go-to brand for back-of-house ketchup for even longer. Here are some BIG ideas for changing the way you serve ketchup and other condiments if you are no longer offering squeeze bottles on your tables.
Make Serving Ketchup Automatic –Because Red Gold’s premium ketchup is less expensive than other national brands, there are some instant savings by switching to serving Red Gold ketchup in ramekins. There is also less waste (no more excessive ketchup poured onto customer plates). Removing tabletop condiments creates more tabletop space and speeds up table sanitization between guests. With these benefits there are even more big ideas within this new normal.
Removing tabletop condiments creates more tabletop space and speeds up table sanitization between guests. Because Red Gold’s premium ketchup is less expensive than other national brands, some operators feel is a signature of quality, there are some instant savings by switching to serving Red Gold ketchup in ramekins. There is also less waste (no more excessive ketchup poured onto customer plates). With these benefits there are even more big ideas within this new normal.
The BIG idea is when customers order French fries, tots, or hash browns, train your waitstaff to automatically bring ketchup in a ramekin with the order. Why? Because if it’s not brought with the order, the server will need to make another trip to the kitchen. The customer may take points off their perception of your customer service and reduce overall efficiency. Also, if not served with the order, the customer may request a different, more expensive condiment option such as ranch dressing. By training waitstaff to provide ramekins of ketchup with corresponding orders, you avoid these potential issues and will easily exceed your customers expectations.
Turn Condiments from a “Cost” To a “Profit Center” – The upcharges on delivery and takeout orders during COVID sheltering has acclimated consumers to the concept that not all condiments are “free.” Consumers are also wanting your foodservice operation to exercise healthy practices and understand that new pricing structures are required to facilitate that.
The BIG idea is to include the cost of regular ketchup in your pricing when your customers order French fries or tots. Just a nickel or dime should do it (whether it is drive-thru, take out, or dine-in). An even BIGGER idea is to leverage your ketchup as an ingredient in a signature sauce. Mixing ketchup and a hot sauce for a spicy ketchup is an easy back-of-house process and can be pre-made. Another easy idea is mixing ketchup and mayo together for a “fry sauce.” According to Datassential, spicy ketchup was up 18% on restaurant menus, and fry sauce was up 14% in 2019. These and other easy-to-prepare sauces can be served in stainless steel ramekins to your dine-in customers, and in plastic ramekins for take-out, delivery, and catering customers.
A Datassential survey of consumers in April this year found that one of the biggest things that they missed when their favorite restaurant was closed or could not accept dine-in customers was the restaurant’s signature sauce. Consumers now understand and are willing to pay 35–50¢ for a ramekin of their favorite signature sauce. This can transform what was a giveaway before COVID to a new profit center for your operation. A signature sauce can also upscale a sandwich or become a dipping sauce for your bar menu appetizers.
Let’s imagine that you operate a 10-unit chain. You create two new signature sauces using Red Gold ketchup as an ingredient. You decided to upcharge just 35¢ per ramekin and you sell 50 ramekins of your two signature sauces per day at each of your units. You will add an additional $127,400 in revenue to your sales! Now is definitely the time to add signature sauces to your menu and start charging for them if you haven’t already.
PCs Work Anywhere – Whether it’s eat-in, delivery or drive-thru, the customer in the post-COVID world prefers touch-free condiments. That is why ketchup packets or PC cups are now more of a norm. Thus, it is perfectly acceptable to offer PCs to your dine-in customers. PCs are likewise an easy option for office catering and take-out.
Increase Emphasis on Office Catering – After months of employee COVID sheltering at home, companies are eager to call workers back to the office or plant. In an effort to encourage productivity, companies are willing to foot the bill for breakfast or lunch for group meetings or production on the lines.
Likewise, employees who remain skittish about potential contamination if they got out to eat on their lunch break are happy to trade up to a restaurant meal that is catered compared to a bagged lunch they would bring from home. It’s great employee relations for the company as well as a welcoming and safe treat for employees who are willing to eat while they work. Make sure that plastic ramekins of your signature sauces or PCs of premium quality condiments are included with each catering order, and be sure to upcharge for them. By growing your office catering you can optimize your kitchen staff and make up for fewer tables in your dining area as social distancing continues for the coming months.
Patrons are cautiously returning as dine-in customers with new expectations on you and your staff’s commitment to assure their safety from an unseen virus. We are here to help by offering the “new” best practices when it comes to condiments because we want you to be successful.
Red Gold’s heritage as a family-owned and operated company dates back to 1942, the time of another influential American crisis—World War II. Our commitment has never been to stockholders and multi-national corporations. Our commitment is to serve the best-tasting tomato products in the world to great operators just like you.
Try one or all of our BIG ideas for serving condiments to speed your recovery. Ask your broker or Red Gold Regional Sales Manager for more BIG ideas. Remember, we are happy to offer you a free sample of any of our products, including prepared sauces, tomato juice, and diced tomatoes.