Once upon a time, I served family-style lunch to 150 people. Most days I felt like Cinderella. I would order the lunch, serve it, clean up after and in the end, I rarely got to actually eat the lunch. And like the Princess and the Pea, my employees would complain about every single lunch I served. Then one day, my Prince arrived. His name is EAT Club, and he saved my sanity... and our carpets.
Why our family-style lunch was painful
The family-style lunches had a plethora of problems:
- Lines around the block. On more popular lunch days, a lunch line can take as long as 20 minutes for some folks to reach the food, not to mention build a plate and eat it.
- The early bird catches the worm. People lose precious work time hovering in the kitchen before lunch is delivered to try to “beat the rush.” This is not a good use of time, and it only compounds the long lunch lines.
- Eating like a pauper. If employees are unable to hover in the kitchen to be the first in line, they are likely to get an incomplete meal, maybe white rice and salad. Gotta love table scraps!
- Brave or boring. Trying to find a family-style lunch cuisine that everyone will like every single day is simply impossible. So, you try new cuisines. Or you stick to the standbys. Either way, someone is going to be unhappy or unexcited.
- Unwanted hands in food. Occasional hygiene issues (i.e. people using their hands to serve themselves) make people distrustful of the lunches.
- Mountains of food waste. On average, three full catering trays full of food are thrown away on any given day from businesses that serve food daily. The food can not be donated or saved for later. Why? It does not meet the minimum food safety/hygiene requirements, and storing leftovers becomes a logistical nightmare and a possible liability for the company.
Enter EAT Club: a lunch service that attempts to solve these issues and others that you may not have even thought of yet.
I first found out about EAT Club by cold-call. A gentleman called my office and said he would like to come by with information about this great new lunch program. Always in the mood for a free lunch sample, I agreed. This was the best decision I have ever made at work to date.
How EAT Club’s individual-meal lunches changed the game
Each of my family style lunch problems above was addressed in that conversation. Here’s how.
- Lines around the block. While there is usually an initial rush of people who like to eat right away, EAT Club uses a cool rack system to help get people their meals fast. Everyone gets a notification on their phone and email letting them know exactly where their food is on the rack. Find your drawer, find your lunch, and you’re done in less than 30 seconds! It really enables a lot of folks to get in and out quickly, leaving more time to enjoy lunch together.
- The early bird catches the worm. Now that people’s names are on their own individual lunches, they can come grab it when they have a natural break in their work.
- Eating like a pauper. Whether they grab their dish at 11:30 am or at 1 pm, it will still be the complete meal they ordered thanks to the individual portion.
- Brave or boring. Thanks to the EAT Club menu, everyone gets to decide themselves if they want to try something new and exciting, or a good old standby each day.
- Unwanted hands in food. The food comes sealed and is only ever handled during cooking by food-safety certified culinary professionals. No more questionable lunch hygiene.
- Mountains of food waste. – At 1 pm everyday (the food safety deadline), I put the uneaten lunches in the refrigerator. They store very easily. People are able to grab one for a late lunch, a dinner option, or over the weekend. Meals left over at the end of the week can be donated to a local food shelter. This averages less than six meals per week. Yes, six. Per week.
After talking to EAT Club, I quickly realized that not only would all of my above issues be solved, but also the issues of set up, clean up, and budget. Yes, EAT Club saves us money. The really important thing is that we are only paying for meals that people have ordered… we are no longer paying for food we have to throw away. If someone goes on vacation for a week, they don’t order lunch... money saved. If someone wakes up sick and doesn’t come in, they log on and cancel their lunch. Even if the per person cost of catering is a little bit less than EAT Club’s average meal price, the fact that you are only paying for people who eat, no longer over-ordering, saves you a lot of money overall.
With all of this, the greatest thing about EAT Club is their Customer Service. As a support person, I am often the complaint collector. With EAT Club, people are able to share their issues directly with the company and they always get a response. They take feedback very well, and have made changes to the service based on suggestions my employees have shared. They are a very nimble and flexible company trying to find the best way to serve the community they belong to, and we’re glad to be their customer.
About the author
Deja Ramos has been with IMVU for more than 9 years. Starting as the Office Admin, Deja is now the Senior Manager of Employee Experience. Her passion is fostering a company culture that supports collaboration, growth, and laughter.