Friday, December 9, 2016

Barnes & Noble Books are Good but Brisket may be Better

Recently Barnes & Noble opened a new-concept store in the Galleria in Edina, MN one with a full-service restaurant and bar aimed at getting people to stay longer. The "retail-tainment" concept includes a restaurant and bar at its new spot in the Galleria. Eat Drink and Read now that sound fun.

David Deason, vice president of development for Barnes & Noble stated “It’s clear the community wants retail-tainment,…“It’s more conversational and more customer-focused.” Comfortable, comfort food and can be found at the Edina location according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru®.

Barnes & Noble’s new 100-seat cafe, restaurant and bar serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with prices ranging from $5 to $7 for sides such as tabbouleh and potato purée to $16 to $26 for a brisket burger or slow-cooked short ribs.

Jaime Carey, president of development for the newly created restaurant division stated “We don’t look like a typical restaurant,” … “It’s more casual seating in the front with a community table and power stations for devices, then a conversational lounge area, and more traditional seating in the back. ”Barnes & Noble executives are counting on people meeting a friend for a drink at the bookstore, social interaction that its online rival hasn’t duplicated.
The Edina location is one of four around the country where Barnes & Noble is testing the idea. It opened one such location in Eastchester, N.Y., last week. Others will open soon in Folsom, Calif., and Loudoun County, Va.

Deason expects that as many as 100 of the 638 locations could be relocated or revamped to accommodate the smaller footprint with a larger food and beverage section. One candidate: the company’s store at the Mall of America.

It’s time for a change bookstores including Barnes & Noble (B&N), have steadily lost market share in the past 10 years. The former B&N cafe concept has underperformed, Deason said, and provided less than 10 percent of revenue. He hopes the new concept will move the cafe above the 10 percent level.
Books generate 60 percent of company revenue. Gifts, music, DVDs, toys and games provide another 20 percent.

The customer-centric design includes plenty of casual, comfortable seating. “This is a departure for us,” said Deason. “It’s not grab-and-go, but sit-and-stay.” In the spirit of customer service, salespeople will carry sales tablets that can take payment anywhere in the store and also place online orders.

Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization? Email us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.usor visit: for more information.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A Coffee War is Brewing Between Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, Wawa, QuikTrip, and McDonald’s

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson outlined in his presentation yesterday that the unintended consequences of McDonald’s all day breakfast offerings will be a Coffee War. The battle lines are set and McDonald’s intends to capitalize on the success it found by offering breakfast all day in 2017 by re-energizing, recapitalizing, and refreshing McCafé.
McDonald’s has set a target to get a larger share of stomach specifically Coffee business and has aimed its sights on Wawa, Starbucks, QuikTrip, and Dunkin' Donuts customers for Coffee and incremental food sales.
Kristy Cunningham, U.S. senior vice president of strategy and insights at McDonald’s explained that McDonald’s is retooling McCafé to drive top line sales and bottom line profits. The efforts stars by upgrading its coffee and get more of its beans from sustainable sources, mimicking a move made by rival Seattle-based Starbucks.

Cunningham continues that "We’re really excited about the McCafé brand and what it can do to complement our food offerings. Beside the ‘upgrades’ there will be new McCafé campaign that will include special deals, more seasonal beverages, and increased marketing of the chain’s coffee rewards program.
Currently McCafé generates $4 billion annually in U.S. sales, but could better cater to customer needs. Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts have attracted customers with high-margin espresso, lattes and mochas. Although McDonald’s offers a wide range of coffees, it hasn’t become an upscale-drink destination according to Cunningham.
In retooling the McCafé brand, McDonald’s will emphasize its price advantage over Starbucks. For the first quarter of 2017, the company will offer $1 drip coffee and $2 small specialty beverage deals, Cunningham said. Other moves to compete with Starbucks will include:
·         Buying all of its coffee from sustainable sources by 2020;
·         Selling pumpkin spice lattes nationwide this fall for the first time in three years; and
·         Upgrading its espresso machines with equipment that has better milk-steaming technology and can make a wider variety of drinks.
Success does leave clues and while McDonald’s sells Americanos and shots of espresso, and bakes McCafé pastries in-house.  Foodservice Solutions® team considers this retooling, repositioning, and refreshing a shot of espresso across the threshold of the competition.
Foodservice Solutions® team is here to help you drive top line sales and bottom line profits.  Are you Looking A Customer Ahead?  Visit   or Contact for more information.  Remember Success does leave clue and we just may have the right clue for you.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Fast Food Discontinuity Drives Millennial Discovery

One thing everyone in the retail foodservice business can agree on is that America’s fast food sector likes doing what they have always done and it appears that they want to keep doing the same way.  Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson says “That is no longer the recipe for consumer interactive participation or a key driver to sustain top line sales and bottom line profits.

Foodservice restaurant industry research icon analyst at The NPD Group Bonnie Riggs in a new report titled “Losing Our Appetites for Restaurants,” found: Total foodservice visits declined by 1 percent in the third quarter compared to same quarter last year, and quick-service restaurant traffic, which represents 80 percent of total industry visits, dropped for the first time in five years.”

Riggs findings included “The fact is the cost of the average restaurant meal has risen 21 percent over the last decade, and with lower grocery prices, the price gap between eating at home and dining out is widening. Eighty-two percent of all meals are now consumed in-home.”  
What we know here at Foodservice Solutions® is that there are more people in the United States today than there were five years ago. Additionally there is no evidence that today’s consumers are eating less.  The fact is consumers today are simply not eating at restaurants as often they are eating somewhere else.

Today Millennials are in search of food discovery.   Millennials consumers are now driving the growth of Omni-Channel food retail according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru®. The success of Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food has been documented, talked about and written about for one reason of late. It is driving top line sales and bottom line profits within existing points of distribution and retailers. Yes, consumers are eating somewhere else. Why?

That is easy legacy chain restaurants do not appear to want to try anything more than very small incremental change.  With only very small change no qualitative findings can be established.  Foodservice Solutions®   proprietary foodservice innovation template consisting of Build, Measure, Learn and Repeat recommends several bold steps to help to validate the results. 

Eating somewhere else think companies with leading operational efficiencies the ilk of Everytable in Los Angles offer grocerant niche grab-and-go items supplied by a central kitchen model by eliminating the need for a wait-staff and kitchen space creating a platform for fresh food fast with low pricing perfect for Mom’s seeking ‘better for you’ meal components that make each meal a happy meal.  Think Amazon Go.
Where else can you find evolving business models? Think Munchery, Wegmans, Sheetz, Sprouts Farmers Market, Whole Foods, Green Zebra Grocery, Wawa and QuickChek’s with “Made Fresh for You” food products have created a platform where QuickChek is no longer just a C-store selling food they are a food destination.  All of these companies broke the business model mold and moved with customers.  Maybe it’s time you do as well.
Foodservice discontinuity continues to expand is it time you invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a grocerant program assessment, grocerant ScoreCard or for brand, or product placement assistance our Grocerant Guru® has been Looking A Customer Ahead have you?

Since 1991  of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: or 253-759-7869 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Is Boston Market Lost in a World of Grocerant Growth

Boston Market clearly appears dismayed, dismantled, and disingenuous to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson.  Boston Market looks dismayed because the units lack an expression of customer relevant brand invitation. The recent LTO’s have no grocerant niche focus. They lack the undercurrents of consumer fresh food purchase preferences.
Boston Market looks dismantled because they have fewer stores today that they did 2.5 years ago, fewer than 3.5 years ago, fewer than 4.5 years ago. They look disingenuous because in an era of transparency the color of the holiday season at Boston Market appears to be Orange / Yellow the food coloring in their Mac N Cheese.
George Michel, Boston Market CEO has been there since Lane Cardwell left and has had time to reprise, repair, and reposition Boston Market, we might add from its core foundation Boston Market’s core was the grocerant niche.  Clearly that has not been displaced, disassembled, disregarded.
All I can say is George Michel is no Scott Beck.  Beck had his misgivings but he had his pulse on the foodservice consumer and positioned Boston Market squarely in the center of the grocerant niche which continues to lead all sectors foodservice growth for the eighth connective year.
While they call Michel the ‘Big Chicken’ we wonder out loud why when the grocerant niche is booming that Boston Market continues to implement what can only to customers and outsiders look like yesterday’s restaurant strategy in a grocerant world?  We can only speculate that they are in search of results thru yesterday’s windows.  We wonder aloud if the grocerant sector is to bold a growth vehicle for the ‘Big Chicken’.  We ask is your brand comfortable in the past, positioned for the present, or looking to the future?  
Once again looking backwards Boston Market is now lowering its prices during December another tactic rather than a grocerant niche growth strategy. However we hope it is tactical step in the grocerant playbook rather than a ploy to recoup customer counts in the second busiest month of the year for grocerant niche retailers.
So here is the new LTO, “Boston Market is rolling back the prices of its most popular menu options. For just $7.99 now through December 31, guests can order a Half Chicken Individual Meal or Whole Rotisserie Chicken online or at any of the company's restaurants across the country, no coupon required.” Clearly you can see our point.  Does your brand look more like yesterday than today or tomorrow? Are you growing top line sales and bottom line profits while garnering incremental customer counts?  

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a new menu product segment and brand and menu integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Johnson, or

Monday, December 5, 2016

Amazon Go Makes Walmart, Kroger, and Albertsons look Like A&P

Everyone knows AmazonFresh is four years ahead of Walmart, Kroger and Publix when it comes to ease of ordering, delivery, and service.  AmazonFresh is even giving Peapod competition that they have not had in years. 
While AmazonFresh set a new industry standard for delivery and service within the retail grocery sector.  Amazon Go is set to eclipse that standard creating disruption within the Grocerant Niche filled with Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson.
The Amazon Go site states: “We offer delicious ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options made fresh every day by our on-site chefs and favorite local kitchens and bakeries,” the FAQ says. “Our selection of grocery essentials ranges from staples like bread and milk to artisan cheeses and locally made chocolates. You’ll find well-known brands we love, plus special finds we’re excited to introduce to customers.”
Ok, now you understand what I was talking about.  Time starved consumers may have just found a solution that they have been looking for.  In the event you still have time to cook at home. Amazon says the store will offer “chef-designed Amazon Meal Kits, with all the ingredients you need to make a meal for two in about 30 minutes.”
Make sure you watch the full Amazon video above explaining the concept. The 1,800-square-foot store is located at 2131 7th Ave. in Seattle, on the corner of 7th Avenue and Blanchard Street, near the company’s new campus on the northern edge of downtown Seattle.  Success does leave clues and Amazon is fast becoming a retail foodservice platform that will set the standards for an industry begging for leadership.
Does your concept look more like yesterday, today, or tomorrow? Outside eyes can drive inside results. 

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  Interested in learning how can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: or visit: for more information. 

Foodservice Footprints Growing Smaller

One of the sure signs that grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food is driving customer adoption and that successful retailers are paying attention is the fact the size of the retail outlets are become smaller according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson.
Retailers are smart they understand that they must follow the consumer.  Today large stores still account for 51% of global sales, smaller channels like drug stores and convenience stores are growing sales up to eight times as fast their larger counterparts according to Nielsen.  Driven by increased offerings of grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food consumers are making more” frequent trips—an average of 2.5 per week to buy fresh food—and taking advantage of new e-commerce options for hard-to-find products” according to Nielsen.  
Consumers are time starved and walking around those big box stores looking for a dinner solutions or for a food product that you have to cook from scratch is simply not top of mind for the consumer according to our own Grocerant Guru®.  Are you focused on the consumer or are you doing what you have always done? 
Foodservice Solutions® team is here to help you drive top line sales and bottom line profits.  Are you Looking A Customer Ahead?  Visit   or Contact for more information.  Remember Success does leave clue and we just may have the right clue for you.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Walmart Adds Drive-Thru to new C-Store Format

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in search of customer relevance has rolled out a Walmart Pickup with Fuel concept, putting a twist on the traditional convenience store format by adding a Drive-ThruFoodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson stated “Don’t get your hopes up that they have found customer relevance as once again Walmart will miss consumer relevance of the Drive-Thru if results of our Grocerant ScoreCards are any indication.   
The drive-thru like much of Wal-Mart’s recent grocerant niche focused initiatives simply missed the consumer focus need to garner customer relevance. Having lost the consumer focused ‘Price’ driver to WinCo, Aldi, and Lidl it seems as if Walmart is looking for new ways to compete in the middle of the market.  This new C-store appears little more than an outlet for online ordering pick-up.  The company spokesperson stated that it features drive-thru for online order pickup, gas station. Once again with this new format Wal-Mart looks like yesterday’s retailer not tomorrows.  
I will give them credit for closing the 10,000 sq. ft. C-stores and building the new Walmart Pickup with Fuel shops that are about 4,000 sq. ft.  The new units offer gas pumps and traditional c-store fare at Walmart prices once again in Middle-Market.  This E-delivery mail stop concept has fresh food from yesterday not today or tomorrow. Clearly the acquisition of played a major role in the addition of a dedicated drive-thru for pickup grocery orders placed through Walmart's online grocery service.
Gina Kretoski, Walmart e-commerce market coach stated:  "The way customers shop is changing and our time is such a valuable commodity …We’re just looking for better ways to serve our customers,". Gina if the customer has evolved why does this store look so much like yesterday?  So the team at Foodservice Solutions® wonders aloud is this just an incremental way to serve the customer? We don’t think so. Is it an E-delivery mail stop? Or is it a confused C-store?
What Walmart is once again missing is a food merchant, or a grocerant niche fresh food merchant to be more specific with a customer focus.  Ok this “C-store” looks the part of yesterday without the warmth.  Where is the qualitative point of differentiation?  It reminds the team at Foodservice Solutions® of the dismal service deli implementation of rotisserie chicken and fried chicken recently at legacy Walmart stores.  Simply put Walmart has the talent but appears to lack the will to compete even in the middle.
On the bright side Walmart has the best E-Delivery mail stop in Denver.  However Amazon is on track to open of another its pick-up with retail outlet with customer relevance.  Walmart will have to do better than just copy others but regular readers of this blog know that  companies Stuck-In-The-Middle follow, copy, they do not lead.  
Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  Interested in learning how can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: or visit: for more information.