Sunday, January 24, 2021

Marco’s Pizza Empowering Customer Choice


Success does leave clues. Becoming customer centric, focusing on relevant consumer touchpoints is always a good thing according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Chain restaurants are in a fight to survive today like no other time in living memory. By mid-summer, we are told the pandemic will be moving on and consumers will return to a new normal.  Whatever normal is.  In the minds-eye of the Grocerant Guru®, that will include interactive and participatory meals and Marco’s Pizza wants to be center stage meeting that need-set.

Marco’s Pizza recently debuted all-new Build-Your-Own Pizza Bowls as a national menu item starting Mid-January. Empowering pizza lovers to enjoy a crustless pizza baked in a bowl with Marco’s original sauce recipe, three fresh signature cheeses, and their choice of up to four toppings for $7.99. Prices may vary depending on location with additional toppings costing extra.

Regular reader of this blog knew that, Marco’s became the first national pizza delivery brand to offer crustless pizza. The Marco's Pizza Bowl line allows consumers to enjoy its delicious pizza while following a higher-protein, lower-carb diet. The Build-Your-Own Pizza Bowl product joins its crustless pizza siblings, the Specialty Pizza Bowls, which come in three varieties: Deluxe, All Meat and Garden.

Marco’s Build-Your-Own-Pizza Bowls is a different way for consumers to enjoy Marco’s quality pizza, but without the crust. Marco’s gives pizza lovers permission to eat pizza with a fork, allowing customers to pick and choose their own ingredient combinations.

Chief Marketing Officer Chris Tussing stated “Our customers loved our Specialty Pizza Bowls and told us they now want to make their own creations,” …. “Whether it’s our signature Old World Pepperoni, freshly sliced Roma tomatoes, or our high-quality Italian sausage, we’re providing a different, more customized way for pizza lovers and their families to experience our premium ingredients.”

Senior Director of Culinary Innovation for Marco’s Andy Dismore stated, “Adapting to consumer trends is part of our DNA and this carb-cutting alternative proved to be a bold and refreshing move in our category, so we learned in. No one can match our original sauce, signature cheese and high-quality toppings baked into a delicious, crustless pizza experience.”  How, are you empowering customer relevance?

Looking for success clues of your own? Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced food marketing and business development ideations. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities, technology, or a new menu product segment.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit us on our social media sites by clicking one of the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

Battle for Share of Stomach

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Traditional Home Cooked Meals for Dinner are Out

If there is one thing that continues to right true within the food sector is the fact that the undercurrents of a cultural shift in family dinner meal prep and traditions is underway as more and more families opt for actives over hours of cooking, cleaning, and doing dishes according Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®. Soccer, Golf, walking, running, online gaming, binge-watching TV or sports are preferred over cooking from scratch according to Johnson.

Today, cooking from scratch is but a distance memory for most Americans.  In fact, our most recent Grocerant ScoreCard revealed that 83.1% all dinners have at least 1 grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and or Heat-N-Eat meal component and 68.4% have two grocerant niche meal components.

Consumers are forgoing the traditional home-cooked dinner in return for something less time consuming and panic-inducing specifically grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food.  Today as regular readers of this blog know restaurants, grocery stores, liquor stores, convenience store and a plethora of online dinner meal options are top of mind, and preferred over cooking from scratch.  

It bears repeating according to our Grocerant Guru® 83.1% of ‘home cooked’ meals with have at least one fresh prepared item on the table from either a grocery store, restaurant, bakery, or mail order

Regular readers of this blog know that our team identified the 65 Inch HDTV Syndrome first and continues to be the undercurrent that is driving customer migration according to Johnson.  Prepared food purchases are frequently a planned purchase among 59% of shoppers, while 41% of shoppers said they buy prepared foods on impulse. Dinner has the highest amount of prepared food buys with 79% of respondents making purchases for that meal, while lunch comes in at 77% and breakfast at 62%.

Now, just think about the fact that 59% of grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat meal component purchases are planned.  I ask you were, when, and are you selling fresh food Ready-2-Eat and or Heat-N-Eat meal components?

Success does leave clues  is the global leader in grocerant niche business development.  We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities.  Has your company had a Grocerant ScoreCard completed a Grocerant Program Assessment, or new Grocerant niche product Ideation?  Want one?  Call 253-759-7869 Email:

Friday, January 22, 2021

Shakey’s Pivots Manufacturing


Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® has pontificated time and time again that restaurants are food manufacturing sites.  That is to say maximizing your space, plant, operation to prepare Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food and sell it in every avenue of distribution you can should be your goal.

Ok, you guessed it. Shakey’ has evolved its thinking to maximize it space, its franchisees, and its legacy brand with its first virtual-only brand, Mojos&. Mojos& will feature fried chicken and the beloved fried potato slices as a virtual concept in starting in Los Angeles. Consumers are dynamic not static.  Don’t watch you customer go somewhere else. Do something about garnering a larger share of stomach.

Regular readers of this blog know that ‘chicken has been hot, wings have been hot, and fried potato’s well, what can I say except consumer love hand held food for immediate consumption.  Let me note right here the average American consumers 16 pounds of French Fries yearly!

Johnson continued, “legacy brands that have lost their ‘mojo’ need to evolve with relevance and the best way to do that is leveraging an existing footprint with a non-core product via a virtual brand.” So, with chicken dominating the virtual brand space, pizza concept Shakey’s is jumping into the middle, which may not be the best move but far from a bad move.

Shakey’s Pizza, virtual brand Mojos& is a fried chicken delivery-only concept offers fried chicken sandwiches, bone-in fried chicken and Shakey’s famous Mojo Potatoes, which are fried thick slices of potato. Will this add customer relevance? The simple answer is yes. More important will it add top line revenue and bottom-line profits to each of the locations offering it.  We believe it will.

To start, Mojos& will be prepared out of the kitchens of seven Shakey’s locations across Los Angeles and delivered via DoorDash. Focusing on grocerant niche Mix and Match meal component bundling the menu items include various combinations of chicken or chicken sandwiches, Mojos, sauces and bottles of Pepsi. Price range from $6.99 to $15.99 for the combination meals. Mojos& also sells wings, legs or breast by the pound with a choice of seven sauces, kind of like an afterthought in our minds-eye.

Shakey’s Pizza CEO Nick Mayer stated, “The Shakey’s business model has historically been a dine-in experience,” … “When the pandemic hit and indoor dining was shuttered throughout most of California, we expanded our capabilities for delivery, curbside pickup and patio seating. Since we are still operating well below capacity, the idea of creating a delivery-only concept featuring our craveable fried chicken with a twist made a lot of sense.”

So, the “twist”, differentiation that is in fact familiar not different, is supporting inclusion as a pillar of the Shakey’s Pizza brand chicken. Mojos& is taking more of a tongue-and-cheek approach to marketing, directly targeting the LGBTQ community and supporters with their “inclusive” chicken sandwich.

Mojos& has partnered with the Varsity Gay League, the largest recreational sports league for LGBTQIA+ in the country, to provide food for any upcoming in-person games, COVID-permitting. “I can put [my] 'fried chicken’ [money] where my mouth is,” said Andrew Miller, Director of Operations, Varsity Gay League, said in a statement.

Mayer continued, “The pivot [to a virtual brand using Shakey’s kitchens] was not only designed to optimize back-of-house operations and keep hundreds of valued team members employed, but also fill a gap within the competitive landscape that has largely dismissed an important segment of the population,” said in a statement.

Note: Chick-fil-A came under fire several years ago after its CEO made public statements against gay marriage, and for corporate donations to charities that were considered anti-LGBTQ, though the brand has worked to change that reputation. Meanwhile, the “Chicken Sandwich Wars” of 2019 began with the Popeyes sandwich, sparking the launch of a steady stream of competitors that have joined wings as a much-in-demand delivery favorite.

Are you looking for a new partnership to drive sales? Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing tactics look more like yesterday that tomorrow?  Visit for more information or contact: Remember success does leave clues and we just may have the clue you need to propel your continued success.

Battle for Share of Stomach

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Are Millennials Now a Chain Restaurants Nightmare


Gen Z is taking center stage and O’ how times have changed within the grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat & Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food niche. According to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®, our new 2021 Grocerant ScoreCards found 82.3% of consumers don’t know what’s for dinner at Noon, and 61.1 don’t know what’ s for dinner at 4PM %.

Johnson continued “When asked if they wanted to cook dinner from scratch or assemble dinner from fresh meal components 90.4 % of Gen Z chose assemble from Fresh Prepared Meal Components and Millennials 82.7% chose meal components.” Of Millennials asked 78% reported that they would rather buy ‘dinner’ at a fast-food drive-thru rather than cooking at all.”


Foodservice Solutions® most recent online Grocerant ScoreCards conducted found what’s more disturbing to U.S. chain restaurants.  That is the ‘halo’ of better for you’ eating.  Millennials while not wanting to cook or assemble meals stated 81.4% said they would rather eat a homemade meal than go out for dinner. Here are the top three responses:

  1. The top reason consumers said they’d rather make dinner at home is it cost to much, cited by 74.5% of respondents.
  2. Desire to eat better (healthier) (60.1%)
  3. The house feels like a happy home, when I cook. (48.3%),

 The simple fact is restaurant price continue to climb in during 2020 they were up 3.4 year over year according to the National Restaurant Association. When consumers are asked about cooking at home it is important to note they are not talking today about cooking from scratch according to Johnson.  What they are talking about is meal assembly. 

Using Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food that can be mix & matched into a perfect family meal is how America is shopping for food.  If, success does leave clues and it does.  Retailers and restaurants need to follow the clues to the Grocerant niche. If you think Millennials will continue to order out, and dine-in like they did in the past you just might be wrong.  Unless you have what, they want and how they want it.  Do you?

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: or visit: for more information.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Wawa Now Faster Fast Casual Fresh Food


Fast Casual restaurants were all the rage five years ago.  Wawa one of the leading convenience store retailers with fresh food understand the difference between a trend and a fad and jumped into the grocerant niche filled with fresh prepared meals and meal components simultaneously touting itself a fast casual restaurant.  Wawa understand that the consumer is dynamic not static.

The truth of the matter was Wawa has a history of evolving.  In fact, even back in 1998 when the grocerant niche was just begging to go main stream Wawa was a leader selling more fresh prepared food and beverages (coffee) and bundling mix and match meal options per store than many chain restaurants according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

With store unit volumes topping $ 5 Million on average today, Wawa continues to evolve innovative menu options both grocerant niche mix and match meals and meal components. Now Wawa is expanding its options opening its first-ever standalone drive-thru location understanding fresh food fast is the preferred options consumers have been and will continue to be looking for.

The new Drive-thru store offers extra convenience and focuses on fresh food while retaining key Wawa design elements such as its trademarked canopy, according to Pennsylvania-based retailer. The new store, which offers drive-thru service and curbside pickup only, follows the Dec. 18 opening of Wawa's first standard convenience store with a drive-thru.

Wawa President and CEO Chris Gheysens stated, “The drive-in celebration was held outside the store and featured remarks from, as well as Falls Township officials and members of the community. They were followed by a ceremonial passage of Wawa's 1918 antique milk truck through the drive-thru to signify the company's evolution from its dairy farm roots of delivering milk to its latest prototype of providing convenience at a whole new level.”

Grocerant niche mix and match meal component bundling will be the main focus of the drive-thru. The Morrisville location can serve 12 cars at a time from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Wawa favorites are available in new bundled offers such as a breakfast Sizzli and coffee for $4.29; a lunch combo of a hot or cold Shorti hoagie, choice of side and a large soft drink start at $7.99; or a build-your-own dinner combo of pasta with protein and vegetables or hearty bowls from $6.99 to $8.99. Note: the ‘hearty bowls are target at the PM daypart, expanding on the sales momentum from breakfast and lunch.

In another tip to the ‘dinner’ daypart Wawa's newest offering of burger and fries is available for limited hours. The store also offers specialty beverages, iced coffee, salads and Kids Meals as well as a limited selection of packaged products, including doughnuts, pretzels and Wawa iced tea. It’s at the intersection of fresh food fast, convenience, and mix and match meal bundling that milk, eggs, bread, cereal, beer, and wine will drive check averages as well as elevating customer satisfaction.

Success does leave clues. One clue that time and time again continues to resurface is “the consumer is dynamic not static”.  Regular readers of this blog know that is the common refrain of Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  Our Grocerant Guru® can help your company edify your brand with relevance.  Call 253-759-7869 for more information. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Chipotle Mexican Grill Menu Music is ‘Better for you’


At the intersection of food that has the halo of ‘better for you’, music, and brand relevance Chipotle Mexican Grill is once again elevating it brand messaging, creating new electricity with its core users according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions.  

So, when Chipotle Mexican Grill announced that it was partnering with Shawn Mendes and the Shawn Mendes Foundation to launch "Wonder Grants" supporting young innovators in sustainability, as well as a "Shawn Mendes Bowl" on the Chipotle app and for a limited time in the U.S. and Canada.  You know, that it was a brand invitation, that would be gobbled up, according to Johnson.

Now get this for every Shawn Mendes Bowl sold, Chipotle will donate $1 toward the Shawn Mendes Foundation in support of changemakers that is good and extend the brand ‘halo’ to a new subset.  The new digital menu item features Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice, the brand's latest menu innovation that was launched earlier this month like we said before this is ‘better for you’ and that is a good thing.  So, in short Chipotle has a daily double of proactive messaging that will resonate with its core customers.

(Shawn Mendes Bowl: Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice, black beans, chicken, roasted chili-corn salsa, romaine lettuce, and guac).  This marks the first time Chipotle has launched a philanthropic entrĂ©e on its menu. It’s a great idea and one sure to drive new electricity.

When Chipotle and Shawn Mendes begin awarding "Wonder Grants" to young activists focused on sustainability that halo will continue expanding the brand messaging. The "Wonder Grants" are designed to help young changemakers with big ideas but insufficient resources to launch or complete innovative projects across a range of fields including music, film, activism, education, science, environment and technology. How are you driving new electricity into your brand?

This partnership with a music icon company will drive new electricity, top-of-mind brand awareness, top-line-sales, bottom-line-profits, all while edifying store unit metrics according to Johnson.

Johnson stated “that in my minds-eye the new electricity must be very efficient for the supply chain and includes such things as; corporate partnerships, fresh foods, online ordering, delivery, self-driving cars, plant-based foods, music, streaming, food sampling, toy’s, podcast, movies, cereal, developing brands, grocerant positioning, fresh food messaging, autonomous delivery, cashier-less retail, plates, glasses, cash-less payments, digital hand-held marketing.

All food and beverage retailers to survive the next generation of retail must embrace the artificial intelligence revolution while simultaneously embracing fresh food and beverages that are portable, fresh, with differentiation that is familiar not different and Subway fits that bill according to Johnson.

So, to learn more about the Shawn Mendes Foundation, fans can visit . The sustainability Wonder Grant recipients will be announced in the coming weeks.

Shawn Mendes stated, "It is important to me to partner with a company that values sustainability – I'm excited to partner with Chipotle and appreciate their support for my Foundation and young changemakers who are leading the charge in these crucial efforts,"

Chris Brandt, Chief Marketing Officer at Chipotle stated, "We are thrilled to partner with Shawn Mendes and use the power of our real food to back the next great innovations in sustainability," … "Together with Shawn's team and our passionate fans, we continue to pursue our mission of cultivating a better world."

In 2021, ‘better for you’ is going to be a big thing according to Johnson. Chipotle understands that and is also introducing a new extension of its Real Foodprint feature that will allow fans to view the cumulative potential impact of all their Chipotle orders, as compared to orders using conventional ingredients, in one comprehensive dashboard on the Chipotle app and Real Foodprint, introduced in October 2020, is a sustainability impact tracker that uses data provided by HowGood to compare average values for each of Chipotle's real ingredients to their conventional counterparts against five (5) key metrics.

The Real Foodprint computed for a Shawn Mendes Bowl is:

Less Carbon in the Atmosphere

1.4 grams

Gallons of Water Saved

1.7 gallons

Improved Soil Health

1.8 sq ft

Organic Land Supported

1 sq ft

Antibiotics Avoided

42.3 milligrams

At the conclusion of the campaign, Chipotle will share a Real Foodprint for all Shawn Mendes bowls ordered to demonstrate the potential impact of his ingredient choices at Chipotle on the environment and animal welfare.

Are you looking for a new Out of the Box  partnership to drive sales? Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing tactics look more like yesterday that tomorrow?  Visit for more information or contact: Remember success does leave clues and we just may have the clue you need to propel your continued success.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Schnuck Markets too Out-Restaurant Restaurant-Meals


Schnuck Markets new Restaurant Selections Meal Program “Eat Good to Feel Great" is on target and positioned to be a game changer ratcheting up competitive meal messaging between the grocery and restaurant sectors according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA base Foodservice Solutions®. The simple fast is in Q2, Q3, and Q4 2021 the Battle for Share of Stomach will become intense.

Grocery store service deli departments for the most part look more like yesterday that today’s grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food according to Johnson. Now, Schnuck Markets is bolstering its service deli prepared foods offering with a new quick-made meal program dubbed “Restaurant Selections by Schnucks.”

The battle for Share of Stomach under the Schnuck Market Restaurant Selections concept, “meals in minutes” entrees will be rotated meals according to a bi-monthly theme. Starting off with a January/February theme of “Eat Good to Feel Great,” including such dishes as roasted salmon fillets, smokehouse rotisserie pork roast, turkey stuffed peppers, Mediterranean turkey meatloaf and airline chicken breast. Time starved, price strapped, without a cook from scratch skill-set consumers will migrate from restaurant sit down meals into the Schnucks Restaurant Selections in order to expand family menu variety, reduce cost, and save time according to Johnson.  

Battle for Share of Stomach

Then in March/April with a Restaurant Selections menu of Mediterranean and Italian dishes, including linguine carbonara, sausage and peppers, pork osso bucco and chicken scallopini, The themes are slated to run throughout the year, with barbecue in May/June, Southwest cuisine in July/August, Pan-Asian options in September/October and comfort food in November/December. I guess you see how Schnucks is planning to stay fresh, stay relevant, and stay top of mind with consumers.

Now all of the Restaurant Selections meals are displayed in the deli department case. All entrees come with a selection of side dishes, such as mashed cauliflower, wild rice pilaf, and roasted beets with feta, driving grocerant niche adoption and Hallmark mix and match meal component bundling according to Johnson.

Geoff Wexler, vice president of deli and prepared foods at Schnuck Markets, stated, “Our goal is to provide our customers with restaurant-quality meals that focus on healthier and, at the same time, high-quality, delicious dining options,”… “These new selections will make Schnucks’ delis a destination for time-sensitive customers seeking tasty and popular meals that they are proud to serve to their families.” 

Technology does matter at the service deli, so special digital coupons will be offered to Schnucks Rewards customers each week via the Schnucks loyalty program app. So, how do you plan on garnering a larger share of stomach in 2021?

Don’t over reach. Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing ideations look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions® can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: or visit us on our social media sites by clicking the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter