Saturday, September 25, 2021

Breakfast Daypart Deluge: A Virtual Restaurant Happy Hour


Who want to cook and do breakfast dishes before they head to work? Not many in the United States according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®. Hand held food for immediate consumption that is ‘deemed’ better-for-you’ has reached the breakfast mid-set of consumers according to Johnson. Are you competing for a larger share of stomach?

Competing for a larger share of stomach, companies the ilk of Nextbite, a leader in virtual restaurants are steaking a claim for a larger share of breakfast. According to a new survey hosted by Nextbite Forty-five percent of consumers ranked breakfast sandwiches as one of their favorite breakfast items.  So, Nexbite conducted the survey in conjunction with National Breakfast Day (September 26).

1.       The survey found 24% of consumers rated breakfast sandwiches as their favorite breakfast food item,

2.       With 21% choosing it as their second favorite breakfast selection. 

3.       Delivery for breakfast is also about to get a boost, as 39% of consumers order breakfast for delivery at least once a month.

So, let’s look at what consumers like to eat that was found in the survey. In addition to breakfast sandwiches, other top breakfast favorites include pancakes/waffles/french toast (18%), cooked eggs (14%) and breakfast burritos (11%).  While men are more likely (44%) than women (37%) to order breakfast at least once a month, women (14%) are more likely than men (11%) to indicate that breakfast is their favorite meal of the day.  And, 18% of respondents indicated they are ordering breakfast for delivery more often.

Get this, consumers aren’t just eating breakfast in the morning any more.  Twenty percent of men surveyed order breakfast for an afternoon snack once a week or more, and 26% of dinners include traditional breakfast items.

This is important, according to the survey, the top reasons consumers order breakfast for delivery are food quality (19%), convenience (17%) and taste (17%).  The survey also revealed that consumers order breakfast for delivery more during the week (37%) than on the weekend (20%).

Remember that Nextbite is a virtual restaurant, branded empowering consumer choice. For National Breakfast Day, Nextbite launched a special promotion (Sept. 24-26) enabling consumers to buy one item and get one free on all the delivery apps for its breakfast menu items --Crack’t and Hatch House breakfast sandwiches along with the Huevorito breakfast burrito.

Alex Canter, CEO of Nextbite, stated, “People are looking for variety and quality in their delivery breakfast choices,”  “Our new Crack’t and HatchHouse concepts give consumers a range of options, from delectable brunch-inspired specialties to exciting new twists on the ever-popular breakfast sandwich and breakfast burrito. The convenience of breakfast delivery makes it even better for busy workers and students.”

Available to consumers through Nextbite restaurant partners, the new Nextbite delivery-only breakfast options include: Hatch House classic breakfast sandwiches with a gourmet touch; Crack’t amped up breakfast “sammies”; and HuevoRito authentic breakfast burritos with eggs, potatoes, meats, veggies and cheese. HuevoRito also includes a hearty vegan option.

Consumers can order Nextbite’s new breakfast menu items through delivery services such as Uber Eats, DoorDash, Postmates and Grubhub. Nextbite partners with restaurants to offer these delivery-only menu items.

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

Friday, September 24, 2021

Freebirds World Burrito Thinking Like the Smartest of College Students


Taking about customer relevance, college students are targeted by every sector of foodservice for their ‘life time value as a customer and propensity for eating out while a student according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  

That said, today’s college students are digital natives, and technology is as normal for them as wearing shoes.  Ok, I’m old but back in my day most students sat in the grass, with grass and most did not wear shoes.  So, Freebirds World Burrito is not testing robotic takeout stations. That I believe will be a home run with college students.

So, Now Cuisine and Freebirds World Burrito, known as Texas’ No. 1 Burrito, have entered into a strategic partnership including a pilot program to bring Freebirds’ beloved and craveable bowls to new locations throughout the Dallas area using Now Cuisine’s robotic Takeout Stations.

Now Cuisine’s Takeout Stations are compact, fully-automated, AI-enabled kiosks that can be placed nearly anywhere to serve freshly made-to-order hot meals in minutes, 24/7. Freebirds has issued a purchase order to Now Cuisine which will allow its food to be served in multiple Takeout Stations in Texas as part of the pilot.

According to Now Cuisine Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Adam Lloyd Cohen, “Forward thinking leaders and companies like Alex and Freebirds are experimenting with technology to bring their great food much closer to the people they serve, making it more convenient to eat a delicious hot meal wherever one happens to be, any time of day or night.”

Restaurant-branded Takeout Stations will likely initially be placed in multifamily and office buildings, with plans to later expand to college campuses, airports, hotels, and other locations.

Alex Eagle, Chief Executive Officer for Freebirds World Burrito added, “We’re continuing to invest in new technologies that give people the option to have Freebirds’ craveable bowls whenever and wherever they want them. It’s just cool that a Texas-based AI and robotics company can help a Texas-based burrito company expand in ways we could only imagine just a few years ago.”

As part of the partnership, Eagle is joining Now Cuisine’s advisory board, where he will provide strategic guidance on marketing Now Cuisine and expanding operations throughout Texas.

Now Cuisine is bringing to market a new category of foodservice that addresses the fundamental mismatch between the distribution of people (who are nearly everywhere) and that of restaurants (which tend to be clustered, for example, in retail locations). The result is that enjoying a good meal—if it’s available at all—too often requires people take the time to travel to a restaurant or pay extra for someone to make the trip for them. Through its vision of Distributed Dining™, Now Cuisine seeks to democratize access to delicious, healthful, affordable food, making it ubiquitous and always nearby: wherever people live, work, and play. Through a connected network of Takeout Stations, Now Cuisine is working to improve nutrition, shrink food deserts, save precious time, and reduce waste, traffic, and emissions.

As Texas’ No. 1 Burrito and consumer choice for “Most Craveable Brand,” Freebirds uses certified Master Grillers to ensure its single-cut meats are marinated and grilled to perfection. With the most flavorful marinades and sauces in Texas, Freebirds is consistently craveable. “It’s Your World” at Freebirds where burritos and bowls are customizable and personalized with signature ingredients, including premium meats, guacamole, legendary Queso Blanco and other delicious options you won’t find anywhere else.

The partnership with Now Cuisine is just one of many investments in technology that is fueling Freebirds’ dynamic growth. Freebirds recently announced a new partnership Qu unified omnichannel ordering platform to integrate a wide range of systems and give guests their Freebirds favorites faster wherever they want to order or pick up their meal. Qu’s cloud-based design will let Freebirds experiment with additional mobile and non-traditional outlets. Freebirds is planning to double its total number of locations over the next 5 years, if not faster.  The main areas of expansion will be across Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, though the growth will see locations open across the state. The brand has already announced new restaurant openings in the pipeline in Kingwood, Spring, Katy and Dripping Springs. With its current growth rate, Freebirds will solidify its position as Texas’ second largest burrito chain.

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

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Chick-fil-A’s Organic Virtual Growth Vehicle


Have you heard about Chick-fil-A’s new delivery only virtual kitchen? They call it the ‘Little Blue Menu, when it is in fact is an organic virtual kitchen according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  Success does leave clues and Chick-fil-A has picked up many.

Once again regular readers of this blog have been following the success and trial of meals, meal kits, and meal component sales for quite some time. The team at Foodservice Solutions®  time tested marketing template Build, Measure, Learn, Repeat; has clearly been used to help evolve the menu for the “little Blue Menu”.

So, the Little Blue Menu will encompass three restaurant concepts with hundreds of items.  The new menu details for its delivery-only brand, Little Blue Menu. This is no little trial, rather a big test that can elevate customer relevance across the country.

Chick-fil-A has developed three delivery-only brands that will be piloted at one Nashville location starting this fall under the “Little Blue Menu” umbrella – named for the actual little blue menu at founder S. Truett Cathy’s first restaurant, Happeville Dwarf House.

The three virtual brands are called Flock & Farm, Garden Day, and Outfox Wings. They will all have their own unique flavors. These profiles can be placed around the country in regions with the most ‘flavor’ relevance.

L.J. Yankosky, senior director of the beyond the restaurant team, stated, “The flavor profiles are fantastic,” “The culinary team that developed the virtual restaurants is world-class, and the ingenuity they harnessed for each menu does not disappoint.”

How does this sound? For starters, there will be roasted chicken at Flock & Farm and, according to a Chick-fil-A release “a thick-cut pork belly BLT, garden-fresh salad, crispy Chick-fil-A Waffle Potato Fries®, and bone-in wings” all available in a single order.

“There are so many great menu options to choose from, but I’m particularly excited about the delicious oven-roasted chicken from Flock & Farm,” Yankosky added in the release. “The restaurant features marinades made fresh in-house, which were perfected by [senior culinary lead developer Stuart Tracy] and his team.”

Each location of Little Blue Menu will be a standalone and not operate out of existing Chick-fil-A units. The second location is set to open in Atlanta in 2022.

“Delivery is here to stay,” said John Moore, one of the three Chick-fil-A franchise operators who will oversee the Little Blue Menu delivery kitchen in Nashville, in a statement. “Now more than ever, customers want a variety of options delivered quickly, right to their doorstep.”

The Little Blue Menu location in Nashville will be located on Church Street between 16th and 17th street and have a 10-minute delivery radius

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

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Kum & Go Evolves ‘Better-for-You’ Fresh Food


Engaging customer trial with grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food has been a success clue with relevance in every sector of retail foodservice for the past 18 years according to Nielsen and Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Now Kum & Go is rolling out a new fresh food menu at convenience stores in Little Rock, Ark., and the surrounding metro area. The new menu items are fresh made-to-order items the ilk of grain bowls, premium meat and vegetables layered on fresh baked bread, blended smoothies, cold brew frapp├ęs. According to recent grocerant scorecards all of those items from the consumer perspective have the ‘halo’ of better for you according to Johnson.

Krum & Go’s goal is to elevate its food with a menu that is more on par with fast casual restaurants. Regular readers of this blog know that has proven highly effect for many other convenience stores.

Kum & Go CEO Tanner Krause, stated, "At Kum & Go, we've been listening to our customers who describe how difficult it is to find tasty, healthier foods while on the go. We were inspired to meet that need, offering better-than-fast food but faster-than-fast-casual food, and giving our customers a lot more choice.”… "People want delicious, high-quality food that leaves them feeling great. Our new menu offers customers distinctive, freshly made options that stand out from the crowd."

This new menu is designed to combine delicious, flavorful food with the speedy, excellent service for which Kum & Go is known, according to the company.

Kum & Go Chief Marketing Officer Tracy Ging, stated, "Everything's designed to go beyond what anyone would expect from a convenience store. We placed a lot of emphasis on great ingredients from braised meats to fresh toppings and added our own fresh perspective on how to eat healthier without sacrificing flavor and fun," ... "From a pulled pork bowl with mango salsa and crumbled Takis to a salsa verde chicken sandwich on freshly made bread, and even vegetarian options, people are going to find a lot more options to suit their tastes and cravings."

The new menu launched in the greater Little Rock area in August. Kum & Go did not comment on future expansion plans. However, if you are now wondering why Krum &Go is moving forward with this at this point in time let’s look at some industry consumer facts.


1.       Recent 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 %.

2.       83.1% all dinners have at least 1 grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat meal component and 68.4% have two meal components.

3.       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.

4.       Seventy-three percent of retail prepared food purchases are taken to go

5.       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%.

6.       55% of consumers would like to try autonomous EV delivery

So, you can now see why, Kum & Go Interim Vice President of Food Stuart Taylor, stated, "Food has always been a key part of our business, yet we recognize people want and expect so much more. We're in a perfect position to deliver that. We own and operate our kitchens, all of which have undergone a significant remodel. Not only do we have a great new food menu, we also have a huge beverage selection and interesting new snacks throughout the store," "By embracing an ongoing process of innovation that includes the entire store, we see Kum & Go as a food destination."

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, September 21, 2021

Restaurant Private - Public Partnerships Work

So, how is your branding extending your brand invitation this fall? How involved are you within your local community?  If you are a restaurant owner today it has never been more important to be involved within you community including staying in touch with your local elected officials according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

If you are a restaurant owner today looking for employees, facing higher and higher food, paper, and beverage cost you may think the job is just too much work. Remember the old adage many hands make for light work? Well partnership matter and who you partner with now days is evolving as well.

How is your branding extending your brand invitation this fall? According to Johnson, “Brand relevance can be in part driven by public / private partnerships in combination with traditional food marketing programs that will help drive new electricity while help you keep the doors open.    

Johnson stated “that in my minds-eye the new electricity must be very efficient for the supply and includes such things as fresh foods, developing brands, unique urban clothing, grocerant positioning, fresh food messaging, autonomous delivery, cashier-less retail, plates, glasses, cash-less payments, digital hand-held marketing.

All food retailers to survive the next generation of retail must embrace the artificial intelligence revolution while simultaneously embracing fresh food that is portable, fresh, with differentiation that is familiar not different.

Let’s look at one example of a private – public partnership that can help.  Remember many hands make for light work.  It’s time all restaurants consider joining their state restaurant organization or the National Restaurant Association according to Johnson.

So, the Denver City Council is set to vote on a new grant program that could make city and county restaurant owners eligible for $10,000 and workers up to $1,500.

The council will vote on a $1 million grant to the Colorado Restaurant Foundation (CRA), the philanthropic arm of the Colorado Restaurant Association, and $500,000 to the Colorado Event Alliance, with both pools financed with monies from the Federal COVID-19 Relief Fund.

Laura Shunk, president of the Colorado Restaurant Foundation, stated, “The restaurant industry is Colorado is facing a severe labor shortage in the wake of the worst 18 months in living memory, with more than 91% of restaurants reporting in an August survey that they were struggling to hire enough staff,”

Shunk continued, “In that same survey, more than 67% of restaurants reported struggling to retain their current employees, and nine out of 10 restaurants have raised wages or changed business practices since the pandemic to attract and retain more talent”.

A CRA spokesperson said the restaurant association and the foundation were working with Denver Economic Development & Opportunity division on the new grant program, called “Denver Back to Work.” The city council was expected to vote on the proposal “within days,” she said.

This is direct assistance for the local restaurant and its employees. The association said the $10,000 grants could be used to offer hiring, retention or incentivize bonuses to attract and retain talent.

The CRA spokesperson went on to say, “We hope that these grants will go a long way toward helping restaurants bring on more staff,”…“It’s also important to note that the grants can be used for more than just hiring and retention. If workers need help paying for childcare, an underlying systemic issue that is affecting the labor shortage, these grants can be used toward those costs.”

Shunk said the Denver Back to Work program specifies that eligible employers must be located in the city or county of Denver – although the employees benefiting from the grant program can live anywhere. The applicants don’t need to be member of the CRA or the Colorado Events Alliance. However, come on it time to join if you are not a member according to Johnson.

Employers are not allowed to hold grant money and must pay all directly to their employees, but the amount of each individual grant is at the employers’ discretion.

Currenlty Shunk stated, “The CRF managed $3 million in Angel Relief Fund grants for more than 3,500 local restaurant workers during the 2020 pandemic, so we’re experienced in managing this type of grant program,”. …“Grants can be made out to workers in any amount, but assuming an average of $1,500 per grant, the ‘Denver Back to Work’ program will be able to serve 943 workers across 140 total local employers,”.

The restaurant business model platform is evolving faster than most restaurant operators can keep up with.  The Colorado Restaurant Foundation was founded in 1987 as the non-profit, philanthropic arm of the Colorado Restaurant Association. Ask them for some helping hands. 

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. 

Monday, September 20, 2021

Taco Bell’s Insincere Subscription Service


There are times that old industry insiders pontificate on things that they just don’t understand.  This may not be the case this time for our own Grocerant Guru®, Steven Johnson, based in Tacoma, WA with Foodservice Solutions®. 

Johnson stated, “consumers are attracted to restaurant brands for a plethora of reasons most are tired to the price, value, service, equilibrium. While technology is driving new loyalty at chain restaurants seeming daily, all just slightly different Johnson believes that most are to contrived.  He reminds us that the consumer is not stupid.  They will set limits on how they far the are willing to be manipulated.

That’s right, food marketers, consumer know you are trying to manipulate them, you are not out smarting them.  They will let you abuse them only up to a point, then they will turn away.  Most new digital app loyalty programs are not a brand invitation they are bribe to stay with the brand.  That according to Johnson is not a brand growth strategy it is a documented, set of data points that quantify how long you can keep a customer before you turn them away.

The price, value, service, equilibrium combined with full flavored craveable food with consistence service will do far more to drive top line sales and bottom-line profits than data points on yesterday’s actions according to Johnson.  For that reason, Johnson believes that Taco Bell’s trial subscription service is simply an insincere effort at a brand invitation in need of a major redo.  That said let’s look at it:

So, the Taco Lover’s Pass, currently launching only at units in Tucson, Ariz., is available via the chain’s app and allows the user to redeem one taco per day for 30 days.

Taco Bell is testing a 30-day taco subscription service that can only be purchased via the chain’s app, the quick-service brand announced Monday.

The Taco Lover’s Pass, which sells for between $5 and $10 depending on location, allows users to redeem one Taco Bell original taco per day for a month. It is currently being tested for a limited time at 17 units in Tucson, Ariz., the company said.

Free taco choices include the Crunchy Taco, Spicy Potato Soft Taco, Crunchy Supreme Taco, Soft Supreme Taco, Doritos Locos Tacos and the Doritos Locos Tacos Supreme. The pass is available under the Online Exclusives section of the Taco Bell app.

The Irvine, Calif.-based chain called the subscription “a digitally exclusive offering that gives fans the chance to satisfy their taco cravings every day for 30 days.”

Even at $10 for the month, the subscription is quite a good deal for diners: One Crunchy Taco Supreme, for example, is listed at $1.99 and a Crunchy Taco is $1.49 on the website of one of Taco Bell’s Tucson, Ariz., stores.

In addition to incentivizing use of the taco chain’s app, it is likely Taco Bell is hoping diners will order more than just their one free taco each day. Such has been the case with other restaurant chains that have recently implemented subscription programs.

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