New To-Go Packaging Lets Consumers Take Dine-In Experience Home

HAVI helped a national restaurant chain with nearly 800 locations to differentiate themselves in the marketplace by replicating the unique in-store dining experience for consumers on the move with customized to-go packaging. The chain later recognized HAVI’s packaging team with a prestigious internal award.


New To-Go Packaging Lets Consumers Take Dine-In Experience Home

HAVI helps a national restaurant chain replicate its unique in-store dining experience for consumers on the move with customized to-go packaging.



A national casual dining restaurant chain with nearly 800 U.S. locations sought to increase purchasing frequency and appeal to a broader set of consumer occasions with its to-go business. The chain committed to a complete revamp of its to-go offering that included improvements to operations, infrastructure and packaging. It was important that new to-go packaging reflect the essence of the brand, maintain food integrity and afford consumers the same unique dining experience in their homes that they had come to know and associate with the chain’s restaurants.

The chain’s parent company planned upgrades of to-go initiatives at its other restaurant brands, so the success and associated learnings of this pilot program would be critical in the development of future programs.



The chain sought help from HAVI, a leader in packaging solutions, supply chain analytics, merchandising planning and promotions management, with deep expertise in the QSR and foodservice markets. The packaging team had the breadth of capabilities, industry connections and insights the chain needed to develop attractive, functional packaging that would extend the dine-in experience to consumers who purchase meals to go. They analyzed to-go packaging from the chain’s competitors as well as the latest packaging technologies. They presented their research to the client and together, they decided to focus on packaging for two signature items on the chain’s menu – salad and bread sticks.

The chain’s famous salads are served in distinct bowls that can be shared “family style” among diners in its restaurants. HAVI worked with its vast network of suppliers to develop concepts that replaced the chain’s plain stock polystyrene to-go salad container with an opaque, textured PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bowl that closely resembled the iconic in-house salad bowl. The new to-go salad bowl contains 10 percent post- consumer recycled material, has a pebbled feel and features the chain’s logo on the lid.

While bread sticks in the restaurant are presented warm from the oven in a visually appealing basket, to-go bread sticks were served in a greasy foil bag that failed to keep the bread warm and proved messy for consumers to handle. HAVI replicated the dine-in experience for to-go consumers with new bread stick packaging concepts that featured a thermoformed corrugate container with a basket weave look and texture embedded on the outside. The to-go basket keeps the bread warmer than the foil bag and eliminates the greasy mess. And, because it can be passed around the table, there is no need to transfer the bread to another container at home.

The packaging team also proposed replacing the chain’s plastic milk-jug style beverage containers with plastic carafe bottles that evoked a more traditional, elegant feel. They also made all of the previously mismatched plastic serving spoons, forks and knives black and added the chain’s logo to reinforce the brand and present a family of utensils with a consistent look and feel.

The chain is market testing the new packaging in select restaurants across the country and continues to receive positive reviews from consumers and employees who love the new natural look that more closely resembles containers used in the restaurants. A national rollout of the packaging to all of the chain’s stores is expected in the coming months.



  • Improved style and function – created innovative, functional and visually appealing to-go packaging that enables consumers to efficiently and conveniently transport food from restaurants to their homes without degradation to food quality or temperature.
  • Brand differentiation – helped the chain differentiate itself and its to-go offering with a unique, consistent, branded family of packaging items that lets consumers replicate the dining experience they have come to know and love in the restaurant at home.
  • Award winning strategy – played a key role in the brand’s to-go offering over-haul success and earned a coveted internal award for its valuable contributions.