Sunday, January 23, 2022

Sheetz a Convenient Restaurant Retailer

Sheetz, with a focus on fresh food Made-to-Order, is winning the minds-eye of consumers when they think breakfast or lunch much to the chagrin of local restaurants according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® who stated recent grocerant scorecards found 87.3% of consumer buying food at Sheetz deemed it ‘restaurant quality or better’.

Now dinner is on the way and to help drive dinner sales, Sheetz has partnered with DoorDash to offer on-demand delivery of food and convenience essentials from more than 560 convenience stores across six states, including Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.

Now customers can place a Sheetz order for delivery through DoorDash's website or mobile app. In late January, they will also be able to order from Sheetz's website and mobile app, and have their items delivered exclusively through DoorDash Drive, DoorDash's white-label fulfillment platform that powers direct delivery for any business. That means that breakfast, lunch, or dinner mix and match meals and beverages can be delivered to your home or office.

Ryan Sheetz, vice president, marketing & brand, stated, "This new partnership with DoorDash allows Sheetz to significantly expand delivery options and further fulfill our mission to give customers what they want, when they want it, how they want it,". "Customers can still order from our extensive Made-to-Order menu and select custom options with the touch of a finger, and now, they can do it from the comfort of their home."

Now a variety of Sheetz's signature Made-to-Order (MTO) menu and Sheetz Brothers Coffee beverages will be available including, breakfast, lunch, dinner and appetizer options. Convenience items such as bottled drinks, energy drinks, candy, snack bars, chips and medicine will also be available for purchase and delivery through the platform.

Shanna Prevé, vice president, business development at DoorDash, stated, "We are excited to partner with Sheetz to expand selection across the Mid-Atlantic region and give consumers a fast and simple way to access their favorite Sheetz convenience items, Made-to-Order foods, and more, on-demand".

How are you driving new electricity into your brand?  Which daypart are you building?

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: FacebookLinkedIn, or Twitter 

Everytable Expands the Halo of ‘Better-4-You’ into Industry Disruption


Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® was one of the very first food industry insiders to write about, talk about and commend the team at Everytable for their food offering and company focus. Back in the day, Everytable (2015) concept focus was to bring healthful grab-and-go food to lower-income neighborhoods at an accessible price that has now grown into an omnichannel fresh prepared food business with big plans for expansion, and they did a good job of that.

Today, Everytable has 13 retail outlets offering grab-and-go meals in Los Angeles. So, get this, in 2022, that number will grow to 60, expanding throughout Southern California and moving to New York City for the first time. The concept also has a booming e-commerce business offering meals for delivery, as well as a subscription service. Technology matters and Everytable will be adding a new app will launch this year for ease of ordering and cashless payment in stores.

Even further, Everytable is growing its more than 100 unmanned Smart Fridges in sites like hospitals or schools with fresh food offerings. The company has partnered with city agencies to feed seniors and folks in temporary housing programs. And Everytable is planning to expand catering in 2022, offering large-format meals for business meetings or events.

Success does leave clues and it now looks as if, 2022 will be the year the first group of franchisees graduate from Everytable University and take ownership of their own stores after going through a rigorous training program that includes coursework on leadership — from financial management to dealing with the loneliness that can come with being an entrepreneur.

A different business model at Everytable is sure to garner industry attention; as those approved will, be able to open units with no up-front costs removing what is often an insurmountable hurdle. Traditional franchising can require operators to bring as much as $2 million upfront.

That’s right no up-front cost, at the center of this franchising initiative, which today has six franchisee candidates, is Christine Hasircoglu, Everytable’s senior vice president of store operations, who has been with the company for almost five years since Everytable was a team of five.

This model may not be for you, but it just might be for a lot of other new companies that are looking for quality people and want to grow according to Johnson. Now, Hasircoglu’s challenge is not only building a vertically integrated food production, and delivery system that makes healthful food available at a price lower than fast food, but also working to put ownership and leadership of that system in the hands of women and minorities.

Christine Hasircoglu, stated, “When you look at women and minorities in our industry, it’s oversaturated at the frontline hourly work level. But as you ascend the ranks, their representation decreases”. “So, when you get to the executive level, the percentage of minorities and women in those roles is low. My big idea is to level up the next generation of hospitality leadership and talent in our industry with the goal of redistributing power and wealth by creating pathways to ownership and pathways to leadership.”

It gets even more interesting, when you consider that working with Hasircoglu is Bryce Fluellen, executive director of social equity franchises, who joined Everytable in September 2020. Previously a regional director for Starbucks who later worked with Magic Johnson Enterprises’ restaurant operations (Starbucks and TGI Fridays), Fluellen cofounded a catering business and worked with the American Heart Association on community education before joining Everytable.

Fluellen believes the Everytable model can transform franchising the same way it intends to disrupt the food system.

In a Battle for Share of Stomach

Will you be Competitive in 5 Years?

Fluellen, stated, “It’s not easy to bring something to life that you see and no one else sees, but I like to be in those situations”. “Three or four years from now, we will have franchisees who not only are successful in their one store, but may have multiple stores, are able to have economic mobility and create wealth for their families, and are able to have a dream of buying a house or investing money and having money saved. That’s when I feel like I’ll be successful.”

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.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Casey's Food Partnerships Drive Authenticity


Mix and match meal component bundling is a hallmark of grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat platform of success.  Consumers love snacks and consider them at times a meal replacement, appetizer, of many times treat for the end of the meal according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Understanding that retail food partnerships can drive trial, top-line sales and bottom-line profits while edifying the brands authenticity. Casey's General Stores recently teamed up with premium hot sauce brand Lola's Fine Hot Sauce to bring some spiciness to the convenience store operator's snack category with three new products, new Zesty Jalapeño Peanuts, Zesty Jalapeño Cashews, and Zesty Jalapeño Pretzels.

There is no doubt that Casey’s is zeroing in on grocerant niche prepared foods sales to drive growth. Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food, Casey’s CEO called “the jewels of the Casey’s business,” the breakfast daypart has seen a comeback after taking a significant hit during the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic. A focus on bean-to-cup coffee has delivered big results, as has a renovated signature handheld item made with fresh dough.

Casey's Chief Merchandising Officer Tom Brennan, stated, "We are excited to introduce these new, tasty snacks with Lola's unique flavor into our Casey's snack offering across our over 2,400 stores," said. "Our guests expect convenient, delicious options at a great price when they stop at their local Casey's. By partnering with Lola's, we're able to deliver on that promise while supporting another business in our community."

The retail prices for the new spicy snacks are:

·         99 cents per pack for Casey's Zesty Jalapeño Peanuts;

·         $3.49 for Casey's Zesty Jalapeño Pretzels; and

·         $3.99 for Casey's Zesty Jalapeño Cashews.

Taufeek Shah, founder and CEO of Lola's Fine Hot Sauce, stated, "Our partnership with Casey's means a lot to our small, family-owned business. Our generational family recipe hot sauce has the perfect flavor with just the right amount of heat that the Casey's guests are looking for and is the perfect partnership"… "With both companies established right here in the Des Moines metro, it's incredible to see a growing, leading retailer like Casey's support local and diverse businesses. We couldn't be more thankful and humbled to be part of the Casey's family." 

Extending the Casey’s brands halo of “better-4-you’, Lola's products are made from all natural ingredients and are vegan, keto friendly and gluten free. In case you are not a regular reader of this blog, Casey's is the third-largest convenience store retailer and the fifth-largest pizza chain in the United States.

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

Friday, January 21, 2022

Technology Empowers KFC to Think Big act Small


Data matters.  Technology had changed how food marketers evolve the brand.  Companies that elevate data’s importance are also edifying the technology they use to garner that data according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Let’s look at an example using Yum China.  They recently announced that its KFC brand is tapping into regional Chinese cuisines and adding traditional local dishes to its menu. In 2021, to support further market penetration and meet the diversified needs of Chinese consumers, KFC launched 12 regionally inspired menu items across dayparts and introduced regional menu items for the first time.  Garnering local data from not traditional sources can drive top-line sales and bottom-line profits. Decentralization of a chains menu works, and drives incremental brand value.

So, in January 2021, KFC launched hot dry noodles at more than 100 stores in Wuhan, making it the first noodle product since entering China. In September 2021, after launching a series of locally inspired snacks in different cities, hot dry noodles became the first regional menu item to launch at KFC stores nationwide as an LTO. Over 1 million bowls of hot dry noodles were sold within a week of launching, becoming KFC's best performing LTO breakfast item in the past three years. What are, your customer eating when they are not eating at your restaurant?  What technology can you deploy to garnering customer insights?

Joey Wat, CEO of Yum China, stated, "China prides itself on having rich and diverse food scenes. Almost every city has its own food specialties, particularly when it comes to breakfast,". "Launching regional menu items is part of our strategy to relentlessly pursue food innovation, which helps us respond to fast-changing consumer demands and keep up with the latest trends."

Once again customers are dynamic not static and edifying your brand with technology can drive positive change while edifying customer relevance. Get this, including the launch of hot dry noodles in January 2021, 12 locally inspired menu items were launched in 10 regional markets during the year, covering breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner dayparts.

The regional breakfast products, including hot dry noodles, xiaolongbao (steamed dumplings) and hulatang (hot pepper soup) have been well received by customers, the company said. The launch of xiaolongbao in Hangzhou was expanded to Shanghai and other cities in the Yangtze River Delta region, generating positive feedback from customers. Hot dry noodles and xiaolongbao have since become permanent fixtures on KFC's breakfast menus in Wuhan and Hangzhou, respectively.

So, selected regional menu items have been added to KFC's retail product portfolio, available both in stores and via online channels. In September 2021, hot dry noodles, hulatang and yanpi wonton were launched locally via KFC's retail channels, including the KFC Super App, and e-commerce stores. If KFC and do it so can you.  Do you need help? Think big with brand building menus while driving brand value in local markets. 

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

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Panda Express Focusing on Family

Interactive, participatory, brand marketing is the best tool in a food marketers tool box according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  When a brand extends its brand invitation to all members of the family it eliminates the ‘veto’ vote what the most dreaded daily question pops up, What’s for Dinner.

Recently Panda Express introduced the Good Fortune Arcade, an online 8-bit game developed for guests to interact with the rich traditions of the Lunar New Year. Why is this so important? Simple both Millennials and Gen Z consumers are digital natives and gaming is second nature to them.

Putting time bounded limits on the is a call to action that is sure to drive trial. The Panda Express Good Fortune Arcade game is available through Feb. 15. Guests can visit to play the game and learn more about the origin story and food symbolism of Lunar New Year, while also receiving exclusive online offers at each level of the game, according to a press release.

As part of its annual tradition, as regular readers of this blog know, Panda is also bringing back in-store lucky red envelopes on the celebration day of Feb. 1, gifting guests with a limited time Family Meal promotion.

Andrea, chief brand officer, Panda Express, stated, "Every year, we look forward to celebrating Lunar New Year with our guests, as this holiday universally signifies the importance of family and togetherness — the key values that also define us as a family-owned American Chinese restaurant,"... "We are in a unique position to share culture and traditions through timeless and innovative experiences that both new and existing Lunar New Year celebrants can enjoy. With the Good Fortune Arcade, our goal is to create an authentic and inclusive way to bring people together over good fun and good food."

Get this, the Good Fortune Arcade game consists of four levels, and players are tasked with catching the legendary monster behind the holiday's origin, Nian, who has stolen their lucky foods. In each level, players will work to collect these lucky dishes, while dodging obstacles along the way. After each completed level, players will unlock a fortune card containing a discount code for online ordering only on or the Panda Express app through Feb. 28. How are you extending you brand? Why? To Whom?

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: FacebookLinkedIn, or Twitter 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Grocery Stores, Dollar Stores, C-stores see Customer Inflows Restaurants Customer Outflows


If you run a restaurant specifically a chain restaurant you are in most cases exhausted from all of the changes your company has made during the pandemic trying to keep customers, protect your brand, secure the technology you deploy. Consumers are dynamic not static it is imperative that you keep-up with them or you will lose them forever.

Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®, stated, “the restaurant sector is suffering a self-inflicted wound by having stuck to an outdated business model for to long. Serving one customer one meal at a time worked great in 1970, 1980, 1990, then started to slip away. Those who tried to maintain that business model have simply continue to see year over year customer count migration away from their brand and in many cases away from restaurants altogether.

Just look at the most recent information from BlackBox Intelligence as they found that restaurant industry year over year comparable sales were up 4.1% but that industry comparable year over year customer traffic was down 8.4%. Year over year customer counts at restaurants have now been negative for 9 of the last 11 years, that is simply unsustainable.

According to Johnson the reason is simple, disequilibrium in the Price, Value, Service offered with the restaurant sector. Regular readers of this blog know that menu price inflation at restaurants has been greater than the CPG product prices increases at grocery stores for the past 7 years, once again that is unsustainable for restaurant operators.

Now that dollar stores, and c-stores are battling for restaurant customers as well the Battle for Share of Stomach is proving much more complex than it was during the hay of the restaurant industry according to Johnson.

That said, U.S. consumer prices rose 7% over year-ago levels in December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Jan. 12, in the biggest year-over-year jump since June 1982. That beat November's eyebrow-raising 6.8% increase and October's 6.2% spike.

This is important you may want to read this paragraph twice. So, prices for food at home (grocery prices) rose 6.5% over the course of 2021—that's compared with a 10-year average annual increase of 1.5%, according to the BLS. The same supply-side price pressures affecting grocers affected restaurants, too: Prices for food away from home were up 6% year over year in December, with full-service restaurant prices rising 6.6% in that time and fast-food/fast-casual restaurant prices jumping 8%.

Where ever consumers are getting meals, meal components, or ingredients for meals they’re noticing price increases. Within grocery, prices in all six food-at-home categories that the BLS tracks rose during the year, although meat, poultry, fish and eggs saw a small reprieve in December (down 0.4% vs. November) from the soaring inflation that dominated the category in 2021. For the full year, prices for meat, poultry, fish and eggs were up 12.5% from December 2020 levels.

In December, fresh produce saw the biggest jump in prices on a monthly basis, with fresh fruit prices rising 1.8% over November alone. For the year, fresh fruit prices were up 7.9%. 

Other food-at-home subcategories seeing outsized inflation for the year:

·         Beef (prices up 18.6% vs. December 2020)

·         Pork (up 15.1%)

·         Eggs (up 11%)

·         Poultry (up 9.5%)

·         Fish (up 8.4%, led by fresh fish and seafood)

·         Baby food (up 7.9%)

·         Sodas and other carbonated drinks (7.4%)

 In a Battle for Share of Stomach

Are you Year over Year Customer Counts UP? 

Full-service restaurant prices rose 6.6% as food-away-from-home inflation hit a 40-year high. Fast-food menu price soared 8% in December, according to new federal data released recently, as the industry continues to pass on higher costs for food and labor onto customers.

Prices for full-service menu items were not far behind, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, rising 6.6% annually. Overall, food-away-from-home inflation rose 0.6% monthly in December and 6% annually, the largest increase for the index since 1982.

CEO’s of restaurant chains have been touting top line sales numbers as a ‘success’ platform.  We won’t disagree with that except to say year over year customer count declines are creating a huge opportunity for non-traditional fresh food operators to garner your customers.  Consumers are dynamic not static and no matter haw hard a food retailer works if you are losing more customers than you are garnering you not in a good place.

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 18, 2022

Aldi’s Looking A Customer Ahead with Charcuterie Boards


If success does leave cluse and it does, empowering consumers to sample, taste, and try new items is but one of the things Aldi does very well.  Aldi’s use of its ‘Charcuterie Board of Directors’, has proven a step ahead of competitors, and a consumer standout.

Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®, stated, “Aldi ability to create a brand invitation that is both consumer interactive and participatory is the number one reason they are the fastest growing grocery store chain in the U.S. and around the world.  

Jennifer Strailey, recently stated, Aldi’s “panel of charcuterie aficionados were charged with inspiring shoppers to create impressive, approachable and affordable boards throughout the holiday season.” Not only did they do that but they elevated Charcuterie Board

In case you did not know, Aldi’s Charcuterie Board of Directors is comprised of seven gourmet food and wine enthusiasts who specialize in food styling, recipe creation, flavor pairing and entertaining, Aldi’s Charcuterie Board of Directors—spearheaded by Kim Brazington, director of national buying, Aldi U.S., and American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional—has identified the six top food boarding trends for 2022.

Let’s look at what she and a diverse mix of influencers, food bloggers, chefs, authors and sommeliers, including Sarah Crawford, Gaby Dalkin, Rosalynn Daniels, Kasim Hardaway, Marissa Mullen and Sarah Tracey, say consumers will crave in the year ahead:

1.       Wellness: Expect more vegan, dairy-free, plant-based and gluten-free boards to take health-focused eating to a new level.

2.       Reimagined Salad Bars: Veggie-loaded boards will serve as salad bowls, like lettuce wedges surrounded by toppings or cobb salads with rows of ingredients.

3.       Pickled Platters:Home pickling has picked up speed, making it easy to pack in a variety of pickled veggies and fruits.

4.       Melted Cheese:Whether in fondue pots, ramekins or mini grilled cheese sandwiches, melted cheese will be a hot trend, plus veggies, fresh bread or crackers for dipping.

5.       All Eyes on Fries: Built for a crowd, boards topped with french fries—from shoestring to waffle to steakhouse to tater tots—will be popular, as will fries made from other veggies.

6.       Kid-Friendly: From everyday lunches to holiday fun, kids won’t get bored of boards with shapes made of fruit, veggies, cheese, deli meat roll-ups and mini sandwiches.

Aldi’s Charcuterie Board of Directors also took a look back to the top charcuterie board trends of 2021. They included all forms of breakfast boards made with flapjack stacks, waffle wedges, toast triangles, smoked salmon and more. Sweet dessert boards with chocolate, candies, ice cream, s’mores, and DIY cookie decorating were also a hit.

With the pandemic still impacting larger gatherings last year, 2021 also saw a rise in single-serve charcuterie portions in glass jars or paper cones, the Aldi board said. Fruit-forward boards with fresh produce, fun shapes, dips and garnishes were also popular, as were boards that featured build-your-own tacos and fajitas.

Finally, “grazing tables”—where the entire table was the board—swept the nation as consumers sought Instagram-worthy ways to nosh.

Foodservice Solutions® team is here to help you drive top line sales and bottom-line profits. Are you looking a customer ahead? Visit for more information or contact: Remember success does leave clues and we just may the clue you need to propel your continued success.