Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Chipotle’s Future is on Auto Pilot


The consumers is dynamic not static and companies must be as dynamic as their consumers according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® who stated “like it or not autonomous vehicles are on the way, adoption and migration might just be fast / sooner than any of expect.  

That said Chipotle Mexican Grill has invested in a self-driving, robotic delivery company, by participating in a Series C funding round for Nuro, a Mountain View, Calif.-based company that was founded in 2016. Today, Nuro operates a robotic fleet of “on-road, occupant-less and autonomous vehicles to deliver everyday consumer goods,”. Clearly Chipotle is looking a customer ahead.

While the pandemic has accelerated digital usage and tech adoption at restaurants of all sizes. Chipotle saw its digital business grow 174% in 2020, compared to the prior year, with about half of those digital sales coming from delivery Chipotle is clearly looking for ways to reduce delivery cost.

In a statement Chipotle said, “The investment in Nuro is part of the chain’s exploration of “disruptive opportunities outside of traditional third-party partnerships,”

Curt Garner, Chipotle’s chief technology officer, stated, "We are always seeking opportunities that provide innovative solutions for increasing access and convenience for our guests,"… "Nuro could change the traditional delivery model and we believe consumers are going to continue to seek options and additional access points for how and where they enjoy their food."

The Chipotle’s investment in Nuro is the chain’s first “significant” backing of third-party technology company since Brian Niccol took over as CEO in 2018, the chain said. Customers never go backwards.  Chipotle is setting itself up to win in the future?  If you plan to be a ‘player’ you have to step-up to the plate according to Johnson.

So, late 2020, Nuro secured the first and only deployment permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, allowing the company’s driverless cars to operate commercially on roads in two counties near the Bay Area.   Are you looking a customer ahead taking dynamic steps or looking back and setting goals that look more like 2019? 

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

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

7-Eleven Paints a Picture of Success


Our comfort zone in most cases is our neighborhood. The level of familiarly comes with that comfort, local meals fresh to most Americans, local means better, but most important local elevates the security of comfort to the point of even over looking a mistake, error, or mis-step by a local restaurant, local grocer, or a local c-store according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Understanding the value of comfort as a consumer touchpoint 7-Eleven Inc. is making a colorful splash in neighborhoods across the country by commissioning local mural artists to bring the retailer's creative vision to life at select stores edifying its relationship with consumers.

7-Eleven has teamed up with The Ammersion Group, a creative agency based in Dallas, to identify acclaimed artists to create neighborhood-specific murals on the interior and exterior walls of both existing and new 7-Eleven stores that will tie 7-Eleven closer to each neighborhood according to Johnson.

So, the goal of the mural program is to capture each neighborhood's energy through inclusive on-site murals in order to bring connection and creativity to local communities, the retailer said. 7-Eleven launched the art project in its hometown of Dallas.

7-Eleven Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Marissa Jarratt, stated, "We kicked off our mural program with a local artist at a new 7-Eleven Evolution Store, an experiential testing ground where we test new concepts, products and services before we scale them across the 7-Eleven system,". "It's been a hit so far and I've seen my fair share of excited customers stop what they're doing to take Instagram-worthy photos in front of the larger-than-life mural. This positive customer behavior and feedback has encouraged us to expand the concept to more stores in 2021."

The team at Foodservice Solutions® likes the fact that 7-Eleven tapped painter and illustrator Mariell Guzman to capture the essence of the neighborhood. Guzman, who was born in Michoacán, Mexico, pulls from her Mexican heritage to create murals with a vibrant color palette and whimsical gaze. Guzman wanted to bring the rich heritage of her native homeland to the community where she works and creates, according to the company.

Guzman continued, "Creating a mural for 7-Eleven in my very own neighborhood was a true honor and a privilege,". "I'm very grateful to The Ammersion Group for believing in my work and connecting me with the 7-Eleven team to create a new landmark for the Lake Highlands community."

In east Dallas, two more mixed media murals have already been painted by portrait artist Brandon Adams at a Southside store on South Lamar and graffiti artist and local arts scene leader Tex Moton at a yet-to-open store on Park Lane and Abrams all to edify local, customers to their local stores.

7-Eleven and The Ammersion Group collaborated on the project under the umbrella of "Artists Building Brands." The retailer directly engaged the north Texas arts community to bring communities together and plans to do the same in other cities. More murals will appear at north Texas 7-Eleven locations throughout 2021.  How are you edifying your relationship with consumers?

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

Monday, March 29, 2021

White Castle Continues Looking a Customer Ahead


When your company has been serving customers for over 100 years, you know that focusing on the customer and looking a customer ahead is their key to continues success and according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® that is exactly what they do at White Castle.

Seasonal holidays are special for all of us now with Easter Sunday ahead, White Castle is offering tips to improving seasonal celebrations like only White Castle can.

That’s right just as regular readers of this blog know, adding White Castle’s Original Slider Stuffing to your Easter table will edify the family meal and conversation just like it did at Thanksgiving. Just click the link here for the recipe if you did not save it.  After 100 years of customer focus this dish has become a staple goes great with turkey, but it also complements ham, lamb, beef and other traditional Easter fare.

So, get this, White Castle released a new version of the recipe, using the Impossible Slider for Cravers who want a nonmeat option. Both the traditional and meat-free recipes can be found on White Castle’s website under “Recipes.”

Better yet, White Castle fans can now get a new limited-edition Cravey Boat, now available on White Castle’s House of Crave website. White Castle created its first-ever Cravey Boat for Thanksgiving 2020 and tested it with a small group of Cravers. They responded so favorably to the exclusive piece that White Castle opted to create a new 100th birthday edition and make it available to the public. With a sleek look inspired by fine design and a spirit of great taste, the Cravey Boat is perfect for gravy, fondue, hollandaise and other craveable sauces. It’s available for just $25 (plus tax and shipping).

Regular readers of this blog know that mix & match meal budling is one of the hall marks of the grocerant niche.  The Cravey Boat is a perfect complement to both the brand and any family holiday meal according to Johnson.

Jamie Richardson, a vice president at White Castle, stated, “However and whenever people set their tables this spring, White Castle wants to be right there with them,” . “In these still uncertain yet very hopeful times, our recipes and Cravey Boat are perfectly suited to help Cravers capitalize on their seasonal celebrations.” 

Yet there is more; after 100 years of course, there are more ways to edify your brand, menu items, and customers from White Castle. So, in addition to the stuffing recipe, White Castle also suggests three more recipes that will make gatherings more memorable:

Bunny Sliders – Here’s a delicious dish that the youngest Cravers will have as much fun making as eating, so hop to it! All that’s needed is a Slider for the body, apple slice ears, a carrot nose and a miniature marshmallow tail.

Brunch Craver’s Benedict – Top your favorite Slider with a poached egg, Canadian bacon and classic hollandaise sauce poured from your new Cravey Boat.

White Castle Slider Bloody Mary – This recipe features a traditional Bloody Mary garnished with celery stalks and five skewers stacked with Sliders, sausage links, bacon strips, mini-waffles, cheese cubes, cherry tomatoes and a hard-boiled egg. Is your brand going to last 100 years? Have you extended you brand to all the relevant consumer touchpoints?

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.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Restaurants Check Out Chekout

At the intersection of the consumers and fresh food discovery technology is driving more interactions than any restaurant operator wants to admit according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Digital native’s aka Gen Z and Millennials continue on a quest for fresh food discovery. The simple fact is technology is the avenue of distribution they prefer.  Gone are the days of reaching for a phone book, or flyer stuffed in a drawer today, or looking for the first exit off the freeway.  

Paytronix Systems found that consumers spent a collective $769 billion ordering food from restaurants last year, with 63% of that — or $486 billion —consumed at home.

Of the $486 billion, 89% was ordered via desktop websites, mobile apps and aggregator apps, the report found. Additionally, 61% of digital food orders in 2020 was spent at restaurants that had only offered dine-in service before the pandemic.

Clearly consumers are dynamic and they are migrating to a platform / avenue of distribution faster than most restaurants or fresh food retailers want to admit.  According to Johnson, the information superhighway is open and both Gen Z and Millennials are on it.  It is important restaurants are as well.  However, making money with online ordering and delivery has become more and more difficult until now. Have you heard of Chekout?  Well, you will. Here is why.

In a Battle for Share of Stomach

Profits Matter 

Chekout will not charge restaurants to use its service. Restaurants keep 100% of the profits made on orders and can consider Chekout an actual “partner”. The Chekout platform not only offers delivery service for its restaurants but also provides free online exposure, marketing, and advertising.  The Chekout delivery fees are low; they charge just a 10% service fee on orders which is 17-81% less than any of their competitors.

For dinners, the Chekout platform guarantees that menu process will never be inflated, and consumers will never pay more than $2.50 for a delivery no matter their distance from the restaurant or their total bill. Of success leave clues Johnson stated Chekout is doing all the right things. How much do you pay for delivery?

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

Saturday, March 27, 2021

The Fresh Market Great Grocerant Easter Dinner Options


Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food ranks high on consumers shopping list coming in at number two this year just with 78.4% of consumers, after saving time cooking which had 82.3%, in the most recent grocerant scorecards according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  

The Fresh Market, has rolled out yet another mix and match bundled holiday fresh feast filled with fresh prepared seasonal mix & match meal options. Each option is a complete holiday meal, Ready-2-Heat. They are a convenient option for those who want to spend less time in the kitchen this year, including those hosting the smallest of holiday gatherings and don’t want to plan or prep the entire meal.

Dan Portnoy, chief merchandising officer of The Fresh Market, stated, “Easter is among the three biggest holidays for family get-togethers, and we want to continue catering to what our guests need this year, including smaller gatherings. That is why we introduced a new Easter meal for two, in addition to our traditional Easter essentials like honey ham, rack of lamb, festive desserts and fresh-cut flowers,”

Three Complete Easter Meals Plus:

1.        The New Rack of Lamb Dinner, which serves two for $39.99, includes 1.5 pounds of French cut rack of seasoned or unseasoned lamb, 1 pound of seasoned asparagus, 1 pound of mascarpone whipped potatoes with rosemary and two mini gourmet fruit tarts.

2.        The Easter Ham Meal, which serves four for $49.99, includes a 3.5-pound boneless sliced ham, 1.5 pounds of green beans, 1.5-pounds of white cheddar scalloped potatoes, 2 ounces of sliced pineapple, a four count of King’s Hawaiian Original Dinner Rolls, and an 18-ounce lemon cream bar cake.

3.        The Large Easter Ham Meal, which serves eight to 10 guests for $79.99, includes a 9-pound bone-in spiral sliced honey ham, 3 pounds of green beans, 3 pounds of white cheddar scalloped potatoes, 1 pound of sliced pineapple, a 12-count of golden dinner rolls and a 7-inch deluxe white cake.

4.        The Fresh Market also offer an Ultimate Brunch Meal that serves four. The brunch comes with a quiche Lorraine, Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon, a lox tray, plain bagels, whipped cream cheese, a mixed berries tub and The Fresh Market’s fresh squeezed orange juice for $49.99. Guests can complete the spread with a bottle of Mumm Napa Brut Rose.

 But there is more from The Fresh Market.  They are extending the meal buy inviting customer to complete their Easter feast with wine favorites. To accompany its spiral sliced honey ham, the grocer’s wine expert recommends a Pinot Nori such as Belle Glos Las Alturas that contains abundant fruit flavors for an aromatic and rich wine.

How are you inviting customer to dinner on Easter?  Grocerant niche mix & match meal options drive brand loyalty while building top of mind brand freshness according to Johnson.

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, March 26, 2021

Bite Ninja Fresh Fast Focused Drive-Thru Service


The cost of an employee in the near post-pandemic talent market for quick-service restaurants continue to edge up as the battle to reopen restaurants for inside dinning. Technology, can help you with more today than you may think.  Yes, technology can save on labor cost while simultaneously providing more focused, fast service according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Have you heard of Bite Ninja? They are helping restaurants hire drive-thru staff, but not in the typical manner. These “Ninjas” can work from anywhere in the country, often from the comfort of their living rooms.

So, Memphis entrepreneurs Will Clem and Orin Wilson have been testing the software and processes for this virtual working relationship at Will’s own restaurants. Now with all the kinks worked out, Bite Ninja is launching nationwide.

Get this, Bite Ninja allows restaurant owners a remote drive-thru ordering system through a network of highly skilled virtual professionals capable of serving restaurants anywhere in the country.

Orin Wilson, stated, "Through our software, recruiting, and training, we can provide restaurants with a huge increase in upsells, near zero defect order-taking, and 100% staff reliability. Add in a new, safer working environment and you have the ingredients for a positive impact,”  

Will Clem continued on Wilsons comments saying “The customer experience has been amazing! We even have people get out of their cars to take selfies with the person on the screen taking their order. It has created a very unique culture at the restaurants,”  

Now think about how this works. So, the Bite Ninja service allows customers to see the face of the person taking their order on a large, video screen, but the employee is working at a remote location with a virtual background to match the restaurant’s preference. They can be anywhere, they are focused, they are fresh eyes and ears on your customers not distracted.

Success does leave clues, Clem and Wilson have been innovators from the beginning. Clem is a founder and partner in Memphis Meats, which develops lab-grown, engineered meats as well as being a founder of the Baby Jacks Franchise. Wilson has founded multiple businesses that focus on finance, data, and technology. Together they believe they can save you money.

Wilson went on to say “With the negative impact of the pandemic on the restaurant industry, we knew that disruptive innovation was going to play a role going forward. We needed to find solutions that saved restaurant owners money, allowed people to work in a safe environment, and made customer service a more reliable resource in the restaurant,”

Bite Ninja already has a pipeline of 3,000 ninjas getting ready to work for restaurants across the country. “These are the best people you could possibly get. We have been amazed with how well the Ninjas perform after going through the Ninja training,” Clem says.

The Bite Ninja team provides a unique, positive experience for restaurant customers every time they visit the restaurant. Keep an eye out for Ninjas appearing at restaurants in your area soon. Technology can help you drive top line sales and bottom-line profits.

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

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Online Payment Platforms Can Make or Break Fresh Food Sales


At the intersection of customer demand for faster and faster online ordering options and grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food sales is the online ordering platform and having an integrated payment platform the ilk of Square Online is imperative for success according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Restaurants, service deli’s, caterers, convenience stores, and non-traditional fresh food outlets need to integrate a payment platform the ilk of Square if for no other reasons to increase thin margins, reduced capacity limits, and help ease the pain of new stricter regulations.

Square Online offers restaurant, retailers, a comprehensive set of features that allows them to increase safety, reduce in-person contact, improve order accuracy, and adapt to changing consumer preferences all in support of that goal to never miss a sale.

Consider this, with Square Online, it’s easy too offer a variety of options for getting orders in diners’ hands: in-person and curbside pickup, delivery by an on-staff courier, or by a food delivery service. It’s important ot offer customer option at all locations.

At the Square Online home page, restaurants, retailers, delis, and c-store can take orders online, with no monthly fees or startup costs. The online ordering page features menu items and includes fast, secure checkout via credit card, debit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Square Pay. Upon checking out, diners can choose to place orders for curbside pickup or delivery. Delivery can be fulfilled by a restaurant’s own staff or on-demand.

So, with on-demand delivery from Square Online, restaurant owners can have orders delivered via professional third-party couriers like DoorDash or Postmates, but without paying those services’ steep marketplace commissions that can run up to 30% of an order’s total cost.

Online orders instantly display in Square’s Order Manager or restaurant point of sale system and relay to kitchen printers, so there’s no disruption to an establishment’s standard order process. Square Online also offers self-serve ordering, which allows restaurants to print QR codes, place them in order locations—tables, parking spaces, walk-up windows—to allow diners to order and pay from their mobile device without having to interact with waitstaff.

Here is an example from Square; Chris Pastena, the owner of the Chop Bar, a fast-casual restaurant in Oakland, California has been using Square Online on-demand delivery and said it helped him stay ahead of the curve in recent months. “With the threat of additional shelter-in-place orders looming, it’s more important than ever to be flexible and maintain our focus on pickup and delivery to continue serving our customers. Square Online’s on-demand delivery feature allowed us to quickly, affordably, and efficiently provide delivery options and keep our doors open.”

Yes, you can afford Square Online.  They offer a free plan that has all the features a dining establishment needs to start accepting orders online. Features include:

·         Sell an unlimited number of items

·         Offer pickup with automated order text alerts to customers

·         Ability to tip staff

·         Automatic inventory, item, and order sync with any Square Point of Sale System

The Free Plan is just that, free. Create an online ordering page, set up a menu, and launch without paying any startup costs or monthly fees. Pay only 2.9% plus 30¢ per transaction. Let’s look at some of the key parts of the plan:

1.       Contact-free, self-serve ordering - In addition to offering online ordering, Square Online also powers QR code-based in-person ordering. Diners can place orders tableside, outside, in line, or anywhere they have access to the QR codes that get created in Square Online. By scanning these QR codes, diners can view the menu, order, and pay from their phones. Self-serve orders get sent to the kitchen—just like they were entered by a server. This feature is available for free and costs only the regular processing rate of 2.9% + 30¢ per payment transaction.

2.       On-demand delivery - Restaurants can have DoorDash or Postmates deliver orders without having to pay marketplace commissions. When a customer orders from an establishment’s Square Online ordering page for delivery, the order gets immediately sent to the delivery service and a DoorDash or Postmates courier gets dispatched to pick up the order. On-demand delivery only costs restaurants $1.50 per order with no marketplace commissions.

3.       Pickup - This allows customers to order and pay online and easily pick their items up in person or select curbside pickup, so customers don’t have to leave the safety and comfort of their own vehicles.

4.       In-house delivery - Eateries also have the option of using an on-staff delivery team. Estimated delivery time, minimum delivery order value, and order status text alerts can all be customized. There is a fee of 50¢ per order to use this feature.

Integrates with Square - Square Online works with other Square offerings like loyalty, marketing, gift cards, customer directory, reporting, team management, and of course Square Point Of Sale and Square for Restaurants, retailers, and non-traditional outlets. Are you ready to integrate an online payment system?

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