How to Open a Corporate Cafeteria for Your Employees

It’s time for the American lunch break to make a comeback. For too long, workers have cut back on their lunch breaks. They eat at their desks and work through lunch as they fuel up on a small bag of chips or uninspired salad. This trend needs to go. 

Researchers are increasingly noticing the benefits of employees taking their full lunch hours. This downtime allows workers to rest and recharge for the afternoon. In the long run, taking lunch prevents burnout as employees are less likely to leave each day feeling exhausted and overworked. 

As an executive or business owner, you can encourage employees to use their lunch hours by setting up a corporate cafeteria. If you are thinking about opening a corporate cafeteria, here are a few ideas to get you started.   

#1) Offer online ordering.

It’s not enough to set up a corporate cafeteria in your workplace. You also need to establish processes that help it operate smoothly. If your employees feel like they have to wait too long for food and don’t feel like standing in line for several minutes, they will seek alternative dining options. 

One way you can speed up the cafeteria process is with online ordering. Your employees can place their lunch orders throughout the morning and select a time when they will arrive to eat. For example, an employee can order a southwest chicken sandwich in the morning and plan to pick it up at 12:30 pm after a noon meeting. 

Online ordering allows your team members to get their food faster while your kitchen staff can prepare for lunch rushes without getting overwhelmed by orders. 

#2) Speed up checkout with ID badge scanning.

You can also improve corporate cafeteria operations with ID badge scanning. Offering ID badge scanning as payment leads to faster checkout as your employees won’t have to pay with cash or use a credit card to pay for their meals. 

With this process, your employees can add funds to their lunch accounts through their online profiles. When an employee picks up their food, they can pay for it by scanning their ID badges at the checkout area. This takes less time to process than a credit card so your team members spend more time eating and less time waiting. 

Incorporating ID badges into the payment process can also help you credit meals to employees. For example, you can give each employee $20 in meal credits as a team member appreciation gesture. You can even offer meal stipends for employees (as a perk of working for you) by adding funds to their ID accounts each month. 

All of these features are available through the corporate cafeteria POS system by Lavu. Our software has more than 200 features you can incorporate for easy ordering.  

#3) Set up self-ordering kiosks.

There are additional options for employees to place orders quickly when they arrive at your corporate cafeteria. Consider installing self-ordering kiosks where employees can order and pay for their items before picking them up. You can place these kiosks at the front of the cafeteria to create a natural flow through the space. 

These kiosks look similar to the self-service options at fast-casual restaurants like Panera. Employees can select main items, side dishes, and drinks and process credit cards, scan their ID badges, or enter their ID code to pay.  

#4) Offer rotating food specials.

While creating smooth processes is a key part of running a corporate cafeteria, it also helps to entice employees to eat there. If you always serve the same food, you might lose employees to surrounding fast casual and quick service restaurants instead. 

Develop menu specials to attract employees to eat at your cafeteria. For example, during the week of Thanksgiving, you can offer turkey breast, potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Your foodservice team can get creative with what inspires them by creating unique dishes a few times each month. The specialty menu can easily be added to your POS system and highlighted as a top item to order each day.  

Related: Restaurant Inventory Management Software: The Essential Guide

#5) Create space for socializing and collaboration.

The layout, lighting, and seating decisions in your corporate cafeteria are just as important as any other restaurant in town. If you want employees to eat in the space, you need to create a welcoming environment. Comfortable chairs, tables of different sizes, and natural lighting can all contribute to positive dining experiences. Create a place where employees will want to eat together, socialize, and linger a little before returning to work. 

Spend some time developing a floor plan and following restaurant layout best practices. If your tables are too cramped or the seats are too high, your cafeteria could remain empty throughout the week. 

Start Planning To Open a Corporate Cafeteria

There are several moving pieces involved in opening a corporate cafeteria. You have to consider the staffing needs, food inventory management, and payment processes within your organization. Fortunately, an easy-to-use POS system can give you the infrastructure you need to be successful. With Lavu, you can tap into the features you need to make your cafeteria a hit with your employees. 
If you are ready to open a corporate cafeteria for your employee, schedule a demo of Lavu’s Cafeteria POS. Or, get more ideas to inform your opening by downloading our free 90-Day Restaurant Pre-Opening Planning Chart.

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