Friday, November 25, 2016

Convenience Stores are a Conundrum for Restaurateurs

The restaurant industry is not known as an industry that adopts to change very well.  If fact it is the one retail sector that cultivates customer relationships with comfort food of the past.  There is one problem with that and that is comfort food of the past reflects more yesterday than today. 

Convenience stores were made to change and evolve.  Here is one example and there are plenty more according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson.  QuikTrip Corporation  most of you may not know or don’t remember, but QuikTrip began as a grocery store that opened and operated for many years before they got even got into gasoline becoming one of the fastest growing and successful convenience stores today.
Now here is the conundrum for operators of restaurants.  Increasingly companies the ilk of Wawa, Kwik Trip Inc., QuikTrip Corp., Sheetz, and Maverik have all been opening retail locations without gasoline. Mike Thornbrugh, spokesperson for QuikTrip, which operates more than 700 c-stores in 11 states and opened its first store sans fuel in downtown Atlanta this past June stated “The store in Atlanta was the right time and location, and a good opportunity for us to see if it will be successful and to learn from it.”
Thornbrugh continued “To open a store without gasoline has been part of our strategic plan for some time, but it had to be the right timing and the right location… As part of the retail space of Viewpoint Condominiums, the 3,500-square-foot QuikTrip store in downtown Atlanta offers a range of grocery items, as well as fresh foods through the QT Kitchens made-to-order concept.
The new non-fuel QTKitchens store is focused even more on the fresh food side of the business than other locations. Non-fuel locations for QuickTrip are placing a lot of emphasis on fresh food will give us a chance to bring a lot of different products in; to see if we can perfect it and learn from it,” according to Thornbrugh.
Another convenience chain opening stores Non-fuel retail outlets focused on Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food is Sheetz, based in Altoona, Pa..  Sheetz has for the past couple of years described its C-stores as “convenience restaurant” concept. Louie Sheetz, the past EVP of Marketing for the retailers  and now member of the board of directors, explained how non-fuel retail is the direction the retailer is headed in for the future.
Sheetz already has a full-scale convenience restaurant operating in Altoona, and opened two Sheetz Cafés in Morgantown and State College, Pa. Another location without gasoline was slated to open this fall in Indiana, Pa.
Tarah Arnold, public relations manager for Sheetz, recently stated that the non-fuel retail outlets “have been incredibly successful due to the location of the two cafes in two college towns and the loyalty of our Sheetz customers for our food offering.”
For a C-store to be successful without gasoline, a store has to offer high-quality, well-differentiated Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food according to Foodservice Solutions® team. Sheetz leverages the strength of the standalone c-store and competes very well with quick-service restaurants utilizing the FIVE P’s of Grocerant Marketing.  Both Sheetz and Wawa have such a strong c-store offer, that each has locations that would be more viable if they removed the fuel allocating more space for customer parking. 
The undercurrents of change are engulfing the restaurant sector.  The conundrum for restaurant operators is that C-stores are not a start-up competitive threat.  They are evolving retailers that on average have vastly higher volume sales per-location, higher profits, more cash on hand, and established loyal customers.  Restaurateurs simply don’t understand, accept, or believe that there is a new retail platform / environment that they must adjust too.  How Grocerant niche Mix and Match bundling and Foodservice Solutions® can help. 

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 or menu integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit:, Johnson, or

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