According to data analytics firm IRI, frozen pizza sales rose 92 percent back in the spring when state-mandated lockdowns were widespread across the country. It’s probably not hard to understand why – frozen pizzas are inexpensive, convenient and a form of comfort food for many of us. And let’s be honest, we all could use some comfort right now.

As our Elev8 customer experience team continues to talk to guests returning to the workplace, we’re learning that some of the appealing characteristics of picking up a few – or 10 (it’s ok, no judgement) – frozen pizzas for home seems to be what guests are looking for when dining at work in a COVID-conscious environment.

To meet those guest preferences and because most dining rooms are closed to further ensure social distancing, we have reframed our style of service to be convenience-driven, centered on grab-and-go options that have flavor and flare. To date, more than 90% of our entree sales are hot meals, indicating that guests aren’t just looking for your stereotypical pre-packaged offerings.

“At one point, quick service hot and cold bars were all the rage, but I think there is more craft in creating and finishing something fresh right there in front of the customer.”

– Chief Culinary Officer Chris Ivens-Brown

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, self-serve stations such as the traditional salad bar was one of our most popular offerings. As we look to continue to give guests the customizable options they’ve learned to expect from Eurest, we’ve combined unique, chef curated salads with our grill and deli. Guests can still customize their meal and add hot protein options or create chopped salads and wraps.

“By combining these hybrid stations and spreading the salad bar throughout the marketplace, we have the opportunity streamline our mobile ordering process while creating an experience for those still looking for interaction,” Chef Chris Ivens-Brown said. “The salad bar has transitioned to more of a farmer’s market feel. We’re promoting the ingredients themselves as a work of art, and we can better tell the story of our food by highlighting our Food with Purpose sustainability initiatives, such as local farms and sustainable seafood.

Our signature culinary concepts like Machu Peru and Mezze Mediterranean Cuisine have continued to be staples among our guests as they assimilate their workplace routine again. We are also prioritizing home meal replacements and take-home meal options as we expand our global offerings so our guests can continue to enjoy our food in the comfort of their home.

“We will also continue to support local products and restaurants during this crisis. We are very fortunate to have FoodWorks to continue to grow these relationships with local businesses and we will continue to support local,” said Ivens-Brown.

Chris Ivens-Brown, Chief Culinary Officer

Chief Culinary Officer and Executive Chef Chris Ivens-Brown is not only a critical part of Compass Group’s culinary scene, but a driving force behind the City of Charlotte, where he is recognized as a local Celebrity Chef. Chef Chris’s passion for advocating culinary sustainability has been discernible over the past decade. His dedication to raising awareness and promoting sustainable solutions for both sea and land based food supplies has led Compass Group to adopt sustainable food practices. Chris has made it his mission to educate the food industry, as well as the home cook, about simple and effective methods for cooking and eating fresh, seasonable, and sustainable foods.