Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Now is the Time for C-Stores too Cultivate Fresh Food Fanatics


Roll, roll, roll away roller grill, was the refrain from Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  Clearly Johnson’s call was on target and years ahead of other industry experts.  Once again however, fresh prepared foods are a potential goldmine for convenience stores (c-stores), but convincing customers to ditch the roller grill routine requires a strategic shift. In this article, we'll delve into the insights of C-store foodservice expert Ben Lucky, who recently shared his wisdom at the 2024 Convenience Foodservice Exchange.

Who Are You? The Redwood Effect

Lucky's opening salvo, "Who are you?" challenges c-stores to forge a distinct foodservice identity. He likens successful programs to redwoods – rooted deep in understanding their customers. Unlike the "oil company mentality" of minimizing waste, fresh food necessitates embracing calculated risk.

The key is offering enticing options that go beyond microwave reheats. Customers are savvy and crave quality, which translates to long-term loyalty – a stark contrast to the short-term pitfall of prioritizing waste reduction over customer satisfaction.

Listen, Learn, Adapt: The Foundation of Fresh Food Success

Foodservice operators must become students of their customers' desires. Lucky emphasizes this as the foundation of a winning program. He urges c-stores to move beyond dictating preferences and instead prioritize active listening.

Building Your Recipe for Success

To curate a compelling fresh food program, Lucky outlines a three-step recipe gleaned from his conversation with foodservice expert Richard Poye:

1.       Define Your Vision and Mission:
A clear roadmap is essential. What will differentiate your offerings?

2.       Highlight Your Differentiators: Identify what sets you apart from the competition. Consider unique services or targeted products that resonate with your target market.

3.       Craft Your Content Strategy: With a strong foundation in place, you can develop a content strategy to effectively communicate your offerings.

Know Yourself, Know Your Guests: Obsessed or Just Interested?

Self-awareness is crucial. Are you passionate about fresh food, or merely dipping your toes in the water? This level of commitment will permeate your program's success.

The Secret Sauce: It's Not Just About the Food

Fresh, flavorful ingredients are a cornerstone, but the magic lies in the experience. Consider the visual appeal, enticing aromas, and even the sounds of your kitchen.

Standing Out From the Flock: It's All About Differentiation

In a crowded market saturated with chicken options, standing out requires creativity. Perhaps it's unique flavor profiles, innovative condiments, or a willingness to adapt your offerings.

The Secret Sauce Ingredients: It's a Team Effort

Lucky emphasizes that foodservice thrives on collaboration. Invest in hiring skilled staff and providing them with proper training in foodservice best practices.

Embrace Experimentation: Sample, Adapt, and Surprise Yourself

Sampling programs are a goldmine for gathering customer insights. Be prepared to let go of preconceived notions and embrace the unexpected.

Customization is King: Empower Your Customers

Simple customization options can elevate your offerings. Consider offering an array of condiments or toppings to cater to individual preferences.

Stay the Course: Thrive, Don't Just Survive

Once you've established your vision and cultivated a quality program, resist the urge to compromise. Deliver the exceptional customer experience you set out to create, and watch your fresh food program flourish.

By following these Grocerant Guru® insights and leveraging the power of fresh, prepared foods, c-stores can transform themselves into customer magnets, forging a loyal following one satisfied bite at a time.

Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®.  Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: or 253-759-7869

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Don't Wait for the Gold Rush of Unions! Sell Your Restaurants Now & Cash in Before the Bargaining Chips Fall


Foodservice Solutions® team including Steven Johnson our Grocerant Guru® wanted to take a look back, and a look forward at the intersection of unions and restaurants in the United States. We think you should do the same.

A Historical Perspective 

The restaurant industry has a long history of unionization, dating back to 1891. The first restaurant union, now known as Unite Here, was established to attract union factory workers. Unionized restaurants were seen as badges of honor, signaling higher quality food and service. However, the decline in manufacturing led to a decrease in restaurant unionization. 

The Resurgence of Unions 

In recent years, there has been a resurgence in unionization in the restaurant industry. High-profile shops have attempted to organize, hoping to narrow the gap in unionization rates. This resurgence is reminiscent of the early 20th century when unionization was common in the industry. 

The Impact of Unions on Restaurants 

While unions can provide benefits such as better wages and job security, they can also be a source of conflict between employees and management. Unions can make it difficult for restaurants to respond to changes in the marketplace. They can also reduce the profitability of an investment, discouraging further investment. 

The Current Restaurant Industry Trends 

The restaurant industry is moving ahead with cautious optimism. Most restaurants are looking to expand digital ordering options, improve loyalty programs, and invest in new POS technology. However, the industry is also facing labor, interest rate, and inflationary headwinds. 

Who's Winning a Larger Share of Stomach

with Unions

The Time to Sell is Now 

If your brand position is weak, slowing, or you are capitulating market share to other newer concepts then; given the resurgence of unions and the potential challenges they pose, coupled with the current industry trends, it might be a strategic move to sell your restaurants now. Selling before the "Gold Rush of Unions" allows you to cash in before the bargaining chips fall. This move could potentially maximize your profits and allow you to invest in other ventures. 

It is time to think about this, the history of unionization in the restaurant industry provides valuable insights for current restaurant owners. As the industry evolves and unions gain momentum, it's crucial to stay ahead of the curve and make strategic decisions that will benefit your business in the long run. 

Don’t over reach. Unions are dynamic, your brand can’t just sit back and wait.  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

Monday, June 10, 2024

Is Wonder Redefining Fresh Food Fast and the Restaurant Sector?


The restaurant industry is in the midst of a transformation. According to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® many restaurants are closing due to rising inflation, staffing issues, and post-pandemic challenges.  

Today, customers are craving convenience and variety, but they're also unwilling to compromise on quality. This is where Wonder, the innovative food hall delivery concept, is making waves. Their recent partnership with FreshRealm, a major meal manufacturer, has the potential to be a game-changer, not just for Wonder, but for the entire fresh food fast sector.

The Evolution of Fresh Food Fast

Traditionally, "fast food" meant sacrificing quality for speed. However, consumer preferences are shifting. Busy lifestyles still demand convenience, but diners are no longer content with greasy burgers and fries. They want fresh, flavorful options that can be delivered quickly and efficiently.

Wonder's Recipe for Success

Wonder offers a unique twist on the fresh food fast concept. Their locations boast a curated selection of up to 30 restaurant brands, featuring both in-house creations and collaborations with renowned chefs. The key to their rapid expansion lies in their innovative production process. Ingredients are prepped off-site and delivered to Wonder locations in single-serving kits, minimizing on-site equipment and maximizing efficiency.

FreshRealm Fuels the Expansion Engine

Wonder's partnership with FreshRealm is a strategic masterstroke. FreshRealm's national footprint and expertise in large-scale food production will allow Wonder to scale up dramatically, reaching their ambitious goal of 90 locations by the end of 2025. This is crucial in a market where convenience reigns supreme.

Quality Concerns Addressed

A critical question surrounding Wonder's rapid growth is the potential impact on quality. Wonder's CEO, Marc Lore, assures us that maintaining quality is paramount. FreshRealm's ability to handle high-volume production without compromising freshness is a key factor in achieving this goal.

Beyond Delivery: The "Super App" of Mealtime

Wonder's vision extends beyond just delivering delicious food. They aspire to be the "super app for mealtime," offering a one-stop shop for diverse culinary experiences. This could include everything from browsing menus and placing orders to exploring new recipes and even booking reservations at partner restaurants.

The Grocerant Guru's Verdict

Wonder's innovative approach and strategic partnership with FreshRealm have the potential to revolutionize the fresh food fast sector. Their focus on quality, convenience, and variety caters perfectly to the evolving demands of today's diners. While it's still early days, Wonder is certainly a company to watch. If they can successfully execute their ambitious plans, they could redefine the way we experience food delivery and reshape the restaurant landscape in the process.

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

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Why Dirty Sodas Are Fizzling with Excitement are They the Next Big Thing


The world of beverages is constantly bubbling, and the latest trend making waves is the Dirty Soda. This seemingly unusual concoction blends classic sodas with unexpected twists, like creamy coffee, fruity bursts, and even a touch of salt. But what's behind the fizz? Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® thinks that, Dirty Sodas are becoming a favorite, especially among Gen Z and Alpha consumers, and how Dunn Brothers Coffee is smartly riding this wave of refreshment.

The Allure of the Dirty Soda

For Gen Z and Alpha generations, known for their adventurous palates and love of customization, Dirty Sodas offer a unique and playful twist on familiar flavors. The sweet, nostalgic taste of soda gets a flavor upgrade with unexpected yet delightful combinations – think fruity pebbles meet cola or creamy cold brew coffee swirled with Dr Pepper. This element of surprise and exploration is a big part of the Dirty Soda's appeal.

Dunn Brothers Brews Up Relevance

Dunn Brothers Coffee, a near 40-year-old brand known for its commitment to high-quality coffee, is cleverly leveraging the Dirty Soda trend to stay relevant and attract new customers. Their new "Dunn Dirty's" line takes the core concept of Dirty Sodas and adds their own signature touch.

Here's a closer look at Dunn Brothers' take on Dirty Sodas:

·         Classic Sodas with a Twist: The Dunn Dirty's menu features popular sodas like Pepsi and Mountain Dew, but with exciting new flavor combinations.

·         Coffee Connection: Staying true to their coffee roots, Dunn Brothers incorporates cold brew coffee into some of their Dirty Sodas, creating a unique and intriguing option for coffee lovers.

·         Fruity and Creamy Fusion: Tropical and creamy elements like coconut milk, mango, and strawberry add another layer of flavor and intrigue to the Dunn Dirty's lineup.

·         Limited Time Offer: The initial Dunn Dirty's menu is available for a limited time, creating a sense of urgency and encouraging customers to try these new beverages before they're gone.

·         Social Media Buzz: Dunn Brothers is amping up the excitement with giveaways and promotions on social media, creating a fun and interactive experience for their customers.

Want to Stay Relevant

Want a Larger Share of Stomach

Dirty Sodas and do it in 2024

With Dunn Dirty's, Dunn Brothers Coffee is not only catering to a new generation of coffee drinkers but also demonstrating their ability to adapt and innovate. This strategic move allows them to stay relevant in a competitive market while staying true to their core values of quality and flavor exploration.

So, next time you're looking for a beverage that's both familiar and exciting, consider giving a Dirty Soda a try. And if you're a coffee enthusiast who's curious about this new trend, Dunn Brothers Coffee's Dunn Dirty's might just be the perfect cup (or should we say cupful?) for you.

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 us on our social media sites by clicking one of the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Is The Chipotle Stock Split: The Beginning of the End for Chipotle's Stock Run?


In a notable move, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE: CMG) shareholders recently approved a 50-to-1 stock split, significantly reducing the price of individual shares. That got Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® thinking; that while stock splits are often seen as a sign of confidence and a way to make shares more accessible to smaller investors, historical data and recent trends suggest this move might signal the beginning of the end for Chipotle’s stock run.

Historical Perspective on Stock Splits

Historically, stock splits have had mixed outcomes for companies. While they often provide an initial boost in share price due to increased market accessibility and perceived affordability, the long-term effects can vary. Here are a few notable examples:

1.       Apple Inc. (AAPL): Apple's stock has split multiple times, most recently in 2020 (4-for-1). While each split was followed by a period of strong performance, these periods were often driven by underlying strong business fundamentals, new product launches, and market expansion.

2.       Tesla Inc. (TSLA): Tesla executed a 5-for-1 split in 2020. The stock surged post-split, but its performance has remained highly volatile, influenced by broader market conditions, company performance, and CEO Elon Musk's activities.

3.       General Electric (GE): GE's history of splits, particularly in the late 20th century, was followed by a prolonged period of stagnation and decline. Despite the initial boost from splits, the company struggled with operational inefficiencies and strategic missteps.

Why Chipotle’s Split Might Signal Trouble

Several factors suggest that Chipotle’s 50-to-1 split could indicate potential challenges ahead rather than sustained growth:

1.       Market Saturation: Chipotle has experienced rapid expansion and growth, becoming a dominant player in the fast-casual dining segment. However, market saturation poses a significant risk. As the company reaches the limits of its expansion potential, maintaining growth rates becomes increasingly challenging.

2.       Competitive Pressures: The fast-casual dining industry is highly competitive, with numerous players vying for market share. Companies like Qdoba, Moe's Southwest Grill, and other emerging brands continually pressure Chipotle to innovate and maintain its competitive edge.

3.       Operational Challenges: Chipotle has faced several operational challenges in recent years, including food safety concerns and supply chain disruptions. While the company has taken steps to address these issues, any recurrence could significantly impact investor confidence and stock performance.

4.       Macroeconomic Factors: Broader economic conditions play a crucial role in the performance of consumer discretionary stocks like Chipotle. Inflation, changing consumer spending patterns, and economic slowdowns can all adversely affect the company’s performance.

Recent Trends and Market Sentiment

Recent market trends further underscore the potential risks associated with Chipotle's stock split:

1.       Volatility in Growth Stocks: The broader market has seen increased volatility, particularly in high-growth stocks. Rising interest rates and inflation concerns have led investors to rotate out of growth stocks and into value stocks, impacting companies like Chipotle.

2.       Investor Sentiment: While stock splits can initially boost investor sentiment, the underlying performance and fundamentals of the company ultimately drive long-term stock performance. If Chipotle fails to meet market expectations post-split, investor sentiment could quickly turn negative.

3.       Valuation Concerns: Chipotle's stock has enjoyed significant appreciation, leading to elevated valuation levels. While the split makes shares more accessible, it does not change the underlying valuation. High valuations can become a liability if the company fails to deliver continued strong performance.

Think About This

While the 50-to-1 stock split approved by Chipotle shareholders might provide a short-term boost and make shares more accessible to a broader range of investors, historical perspectives and recent trends suggest potential challenges ahead. Market saturation, competitive pressures, operational challenges, and macroeconomic factors could all impact Chipotle’s ability to sustain its stock run.

Investors should closely monitor the company's performance, market conditions, and broader economic trends to assess the long-term implications of the stock split. While stock splits are not inherently negative, they are not a guaranteed path to sustained stock price appreciation. For Chipotle, the true test will be whether it can continue to deliver strong operational performance and growth in an increasingly challenging market environment.

For international corporate presentations, regional chain presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert, and public speaking will leave success clues for all. For more information visit, FoodserviceSolutions.US or call 1-253-759-7869