Speeding up food service: Why the ‘create your own’ model isn’t the solution

We look at the benefits of having a selection of food ready to go versus some of the headaches of a menu with too much choice.


It is definitely a welcome development from the days of mayo drenched chicken in non-distinguishable flavours with only iceberg lettuce and a bit of white onion as a salad garnish and it has led many operators to believe it is the best way to get customers through the door: but is it without flaws?


We were recently installing a TurboChef Sota into a high end sandwich shop that was replacing it’s panini presses to speed up of service for the customers by taking the panini cook time from 3 minutes to 1 minute. The shop had a great display, like the one described above, and this is where the first problems were setting in.


  1. With so much choice customers take much longer to decide what they want in the sandwich. This can really reduce the speed of service (no matter how quick your high speed oven is!)
  2. It is a much more labour intense model. Having a conveyor belt approach to filling a sandwich results in a member of staff only been able to serve one person at a time.
  3. It can be high wastage. Keeping a display of over 30 different tubs of food full and looking attractive will almost certainly result in leftover product being thrown away.

More than anything, slow food service will result in customers not coming for a second visit. WIth workers lunch breaks getting even shorter, quick service is essential. The good news is that there are some solutions.

3 Things to improve the speed of serving customers:

  1. A report by Lurpak in 2015 showed that over a third of employees have the same lunch every day (and the cheese sandwich is still king!). Knowing this allows food service operators to have a pre-made selection of best selling sandwiches ready to cook and serve.
  2. Utilised multi-tier chilled displays. Rather than having 30+ tubs of food over a 3 meter stretch, a 600mm – 900mm wide chilled display with a range of 10 types of pre-made sandwiches helps guide the customer to a decision quicker.
  3. Having a selection of pre-made sandwiches which can cook in 40 seconds in a high speed oven cuts out the prep time and massively reduces the waiting time customers have to take. A single member of staff can quickly serve the customer, take payment and move onto the next customer.

HSO Pre-Made Food Cold Display 900 x 325

There are other tools to be used – there are many companies such as Orderswift or Boppl offering apps that have great pre-order and collect features. Combining these elements can have a huge impact on growing sales and need to be taken advantage of!