Monday, November 30, 2015

TravelCenters of America Restaurants Local Homemade Success

National chains sometimes have difficulty in driving success as they grow across the country.  TravelCenters of American has been able to drive local customers in garnering customer adoption with a local flare.  TravelCenters has created three new concepts in one they are Petro Café, Metro Deli and TA Café Express are cafe-style eateries. 

TravelCenters President and CEO Tom O'Brien stated "We know variety is vitally important to our customers and are always looking for ways to offer our guests different types of food options, while keeping the same quality and quick service they have come to expect," So TravelCenters created three concepts in on to attract there important interstate customer base and drive local adoption.   

Brian went on to say "The unique atmosphere and local favorites from each of these cafes will not only provide this experience, but also allow them to relax, unwind and enjoy a home cooked meal."  TravelCenters opened three new restaurant concepts within the TravelCenters network. These café-style eateries offer a variety of food types, from regional favorites to familiar home-cooked staples available for dine-in, carry out or call ahead. This Mix and Match concept is consumer empowering according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru®.

The Petro Café, located features a Louisiana-style dining experience with authentic Cajun classics such as signature fried chicken, Po Boy sandwiches, Cajun catfish and Boudin link or ball dinners, with Egan's Soon To Be Famous Bread Pudding for dessert.

The Metro Deli is an authentic New York-style deli, the Metro Deli features Large sandwiches that are made with the finest meats, breads and cheeses that are all natural and free from preservatives, binders, fillers or antibiotics, according to TravelCenters.

TA Café Express, It expands existing dining options in the network at TA and offers home smoked favorites such as smoked brisket and braised wrangler steak, as well as comfort food classics like chicken fried steak, stuffed peppers and fried whitefish, plus Wyoming Cowboy Cookies for dessert. Mix and Match options create platform for local success. TravelCenters can win a greater Share of Stomach with this platform.

Success does leave clues and today price continues to drive frequency, customer adoption, and top line sales and bottom line profits. Visit: or Email: for information on how you can edify sales at your operation. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Boston Market ‘Super Bowl’ or ‘Super Slide’?

Boston Market from the start was packed with grocerant niche potential yet unable to get out of its own way according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru®.  While the grocerant niche has driven record sales within all foodservice retail sectors, many sector leaders are posting double digit year or year sales gains for the past four year as regular readers of this blog know.  

Boston Market certainly is not ready for prime time and clearly is still a long way from being a grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food sector leader.  Restaurant chains the ilk of 45+ year old Starbucks, has added grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat fresh food and is posing industry leading numbers, Chipotle Mexican Grill unit growth and year over year sales are industry leading.  Boston Markets are not. 

Retailers ilk of Ikea, Whole Foods, Costco, Wegmans, HEB, and Central Market have driven outstanding sales within the grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food sector.  Clearly Boston Market has struggled to understand the niche and customers today.  In fact Ikea reports Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat sales in excess of $2 Billion a year, and Costco reports $1.6 Billion in Ready-2-Eat alone. Success does leave clues and when it comes to the Grocerant niche it would appear that Boston Market has picked up very few success clues.

In 1996 with 1023 units Boston Market was garnering the attention of consumers.  In 2013 with 462 units Boston Market was catching its breath.  Today November 2015 Boston Market has 435 units.  When CEO George Michel speaking about Thanksgiving Day sales told Nation’s Restaurant News that “We consider that our Super Bowl.” No could have been more disappointed than our own Grocerant Guru® who stated “they still don’t understand the customer, the Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared niche, no wonder they have fewer stores today than in 2013”.

Michel’s statement pointed out that Boston Market continues to practice brand protectionism looking at the customer through the eyes of a 1980’s or 1990’s restaurant perspective.   The consumer is dynamic not static Boston Market is not a dynamic company.  

As 2015 is coming to close Boston Market has only 435 units it would appear from afar that Boston Market is not a ‘Super Bowl’ bound but continues on a ‘Super Slide’.  Integrating the Five P’s of food marketing in to customer relevant brand messaging is a success clue that Boston Market might want to utilize. Building top line sales and bottom line profits is not about yesterday’s relevance.  It’s time Boston Market look more like tomorrow’s customers than yesterdays. 

Success does leave clues.  Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing the same way?  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:

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Foodservice Two Tier Pricing Does it Work?

In the United States Foodservice economic upheaval continues to linger with employment instability in addition economic upheaval and cultural uncertainty continue from China to Germany. In developed countries the whipsaw stock market is creating uncertainty and disillusionment.  Fast Food restaurants are still aspirational for many consumers around the globe. 

The global goal for most countries is economic growth and employment stability.  In Brazil, China, Africa the goals are the same a stable or growing economy too powered lower-level economic groups to the “new middle.” Two tier pricing is required by global brands today as they need to garner new customers at each end of the spectrum to sustain growth. 

United States chain restaurants specifically branded fast food restaurants are leveraging and expanding Two Tier Pricing to first garner trial and secondly build brand loyalty.  They offer entry level branded products like McDonalds dollar menu that allow existing customers trial and existing customers trade up either with LTO’s or specials on branded menu items. 

Recently the Euromonitor put it this way.  “Fast food is changing, and not just in the category's dominant US market. Amidst fierce competition, fast food brands have been forced to differentiate themselves with broader menus, better food and higher-end outlet designs. In developed markets this has led to the popularity of the fast casual segment, but in emerging markets (most of which show a strong preference for full-service dining) it has helped fast food gain traction as a modern, lower-cost alternative to more traditional foodservice formats …

The branding opportunities inherent in the fast food business model have also allowed these chains to appeal to developing market consumers' taste for exciting new dining experiences. South Africa-based chicken fast food brand Nando's, for example, has relied on strong branding, exciting flavours and a unique dining experience to set it apart from other chicken fast food chains, a fact that helped it achieve 19% value growth. Similarly, UK bakery products fast food brands EAT and Pret a Manger have both found success with a positioning of convenient, high-quality food, a modern atmosphere and quick service. 

Mix and match meal component bundling with a focus on both product and price positioning is key to drive growth in a volatile marketplace. Focusing on fresh, high-end ingredients, especially, has helped the brands compete with more traditional fast food concepts, and this kind of above-and-beyond competitive positioning will continue to integral to the success of any new fast food concept….

The universal commonalities in Reay-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food are fueling retail success around the globe.  Do you have a product positioning and pricing strategy? What is your growth rate?  If not think about Outside Eyes from the Grocerant Guru. 

Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant Scorecard or a Grocerant Program Assessment.  Since 1991  of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Johnson, or Contact:

Friday, November 27, 2015

Tim Horton’s, Joe’s Crab Shack, Ruby Tuesday Discontinuity Rattles Restaurant Sector

When you shake the tree the weak leaves fall.  Once again restaurant consumer discontinuity has driven customers away from restaurants in 2015 too grocery stores and convenience stores.   When chains restaurants do not move with consumers the consumers move on.  

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® stated “consumers are dynamic not static and brands must be the same.  Brand protectionism worked in the 1970’s, 1980’s and part of 1990’s but has long since lost favor with consumers.  Doing the same thing the same thing the same way simply does not work in 2015.”

When companies do not generate profit at the store level either the franchisee’s run out of cash and are forced to close or companies close units themselves.  In both New York and Maine Tim Horton’s once again closed units, Ruby Tuesday is closing 11 Lime Fresh Mexican Grill locations, Noodles & Company is closing 16 “under-preforming’ stores, Joe’s Crab Shack is closing 7 locations with declining sales, and three California Papa John’s closed just last week.  

Ruby Tuesday customer traffic has continued to decline, despite squeaking out very small same-stores sales recently.  Noodles & Company has been struggling as well, reporting an overall 0.9% decline in same-store sales (0.7% at company-owned units and 1.9% franchised restaurants, something that is likely to hinder any further franchising efforts. CEO and Chairman Kevin Reddy naturally insists the company is in the “right place”.  I guess while the company is in the right place the customer is not!

The good news is that the retail food consumer has found a new home.  The NPD Group's QSR Plus Retail Market Monitor a daily tracker that monitors awareness, trial, and usage for QSR operators in major markets and nationally found that “the number of prepared-food purchases made at retail outlets (c-stores and supermarkets) per customer beginning March 2015 through June 2015 period is more than six visits higher than those made to QSRs in an average 4-week period.

The grocerant niche filled with Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food has found the customers that the restaurant sector simply does not want?  If they wanted them they would be trying to woo customers back.  That’s simple call for Outside Eyes call the Grocerant Guru®.
Don’t get trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  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