For a year now, Bradford has helped clients navigate the ever-changing needs of restaurants that predominantly offered delivery and take-out, some for the first time ever.
By: Ashley Bradford
Singer/M. Tucker is the largest food service and equipment supplies dealer in Metro New York, and they supply everything — including paper products, which Ashley Bradford specializes in. For a year now, Bradford has helped clients navigate the ever-changing needs of restaurants that predominantly offered delivery and take-out, some for the first time ever. She talks about how Instagram and COVID impacted product demand and why the future is green.
A Bright Spot
While the pandemic had few upsides, Bradford sees one within the restaurant industry. “The shining light of the many challenges restaurants faced over the last year is that it has made them take a hard look at what really matters,” she says. For many restaurants delivery and take-out was an after-thought. “It was just a very neglected program for a lot of establishments. They had these sub-par plastic containers and so on. Now to stay competitive in the market, to look good on Instagram, they’re paying attention to it.”
With so much overdue attention finally being focused on the delivery experience, Bradford has relished the opportunity to get more creative than ever. “We’ve started to put mood boards together for packaging, which has been a lot of fun.” When customers come in with a challenge, Bradford and her team are quick to rise to the occasion. “We had a couple of customers come in asking us to create a whole roasted chicken box that they put together with all these accompaniments and then the customer takes it home and cooks it for ten minutes at three-hundred-and-twenty-five degrees, so we got creative to find the right solutions there. A standard plastic carry-out container just isn’t going to cut it.” She’s currently on the hunt for a cheesecake-by-the-slice to-go container, which she equates to finding a needle in a haystack. Rest assured, the problem-solving Bradford will procure it.
Green Is Gone…
Pre-COVID, a solid percentage of restaurants were embracing environmentally friendly packaging, from recyclables to compostables. Those valiant efforts largely went out the window — and not just because of pricing. “The problem restaurants were and are facing is that they’ve all had to expand their delivery zones. So they had to keep the experience good enough to keep people coming back and still wanting to order again. The only way to do that was to go for something not eco-friendly. You can’t pay fifty dollars for a meal and have it come in a mess or be difficult to reheat.”
…But It Will Be Back
Not all choices are that environmentally unsound. Operators are embracing foil (“Chances are it will be recycled,” she says). And as far as plastic is concerned, “They all keep saying it’s just for now, it’s just for now. We have to get through this and then we’ll start to revisit the eco-friendly.” But Bradford predicts a return to Earth-friendly accouterments in the coming year. “There’s going to be a mad dash for eco-friendly products once the vaccine is really rolled out, and now there seems to be a brighter light at the end of this tunnel.”
Branding Opportunities Abound
In years prior, many restaurateurs may have missed branding opportunities on various touchpoints throughout the delivery experience. That’s no longer the case. “We’re getting more interest in branded product. It’s also getting more specific.” Decision-makers are not trying to brand everything as “the funds aren’t there to brand everything.” Instead, they are looking at the most seen items, such as branded bags or to-go packaging labels. “It’s a really cool way to brand yourself.”
A Carry-Out Bag Doesn’t Always Carry Over to Insta’
“Branded items are a huge thing on social media,” says Bradford. “Restaurants can put all the money in the world into their branding, but they have to have a strong social media presence and put as much attention in that as well.” And operators don’t have to brand every single thing with the hopes that someone will ‘gram it. “I have a client that has one or two branded things, but they’ve done such a careful job picking everything else around it and making sure it’s supporting their food and the integrity of the food that they probably get more social media shares than a restaurant that has six branded things.”
As indoor dining returns, delivery and takeout will likely remain staples for foodies in New York City. Connect with Bradford at Singer/M. Tucker to level up your paper product game.Back to Blog Posts
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