daypart dining

While lunch is a proven daypart for convenience stores, truly capturing customers means creating morning and dinner offers. Three retailers share their secrets to capturing dining dollars without cannibalizing existing lunch sales.

FRIENDSHIP FOODS hasmade itself a food destination thanks to strong branded programs. Sixteen of the company’s 25 stores offer some form offoodservice, be it Subway,Squawkers Chicken, HuntBrothers Pizza or Bob Evans.

The company fell into theHunt Brothers program when itacquired a store that had it inplace five years ago, and it hasn’tlooked back.

“The Hunt Brothers program in that first store is currently drawing 400 customers a week,” saidDennis Peters, director of retail forthe Fremont, Ohio-based company.

A Marathon jobber, the company added a Bob Evans facet to itsprogram at Marathon’s suggestion.Snackwiches are displayed in countertop warmers, and FriendShiphas added breakfast sausages to itsroller grills to enhance the morningdaypart.

“Between Hunt Brothers Pizzaand Bob Evans, our breakfast daypart does really well,” said Peters.”The breakfast pizzas are high-quality and affordable. We offer BobEvans breakfast sausages on theroller grill, and their snackwichesare an excellent morning option.That four-foot countertop unit carries a lot of name recognition.

“A lot of our customers are getting off their third shifts, so morning isn’t necessarily breakfastfor them,” headded. “Wehave to havechicken, pizzaand the rollergrill ready forthem, too.”

FAST TRACK has teamedwith Arby’s, Dairy Queen,Subway and, most recently, a full Hunt Brothers Pizza programthat is run 24 hours a day. While Hunt Brothers’breakfast pizzagave the chain anopening into themorning daypart,it wasn’t a deciding factor.

“Even thoughthe breakfast pizzais great, I’m surprised how manyregular pizzas we sell in the morning,” said Dale Turner, director ofoperations for the Gainsville, Fla.chain. “The sausage and cheese is ahuge seller in the a.m. HuntBrothers offered breakfast right outof the shoot, and that helped usopen our foodservice program.”

The company has supplementedthat breakfast program with its ownproprietary biscuit program.

“Some of our rural stores have alot of farm hands around,” saidTurner. “In those locations, we’llkeep extra biscuits going all day ingrab-and-go combinations, likesausage, pork chop or steak, on abiscuit with egg and cheese.”

The company has also expandedits roller grill program to includebrautwurst.

“You’d be amazed how manypeople buy hot dogs or brauts firstthing in the morning,” said Peters.

“We see our fuel gross shrinkingand fuel margins getting tighter, andare constantly looking for ways toincrease our gross profit,” he added.”Our branded concepts, like HuntBrothers and Arby’s, drive trafficand more gross profit dollars to offset expenses.”

WHITEHOUSEStation, N.J.-basedQuick Chek Food Stores has cultivated proprietaryprograms that would have mostQSRs envious. The company hasserved breakfast in its stores foralmost 30 years, starting with buttered rolls and coffee, and expanding to include fresh pastries, bagelsand sandwiches. Its lunch programhas grown into signature preparedsandwiches with flavors, like theRoman Italian Ciabatta.

While breakfast and lunch arethe strongest dayparts for the chain,it’s working to become a dinner destination. One of the first thingsQuick Chek has done was utilize itsovens to offer a toasted option. Thesecond was expanding a reliablemenu item that may have been difficult for other chains to execute:Self-serve soup.

“Toasting is perceived by someof our customers as a dinneroption,” said Jennifer Vespole, senior category manager for foodservice at Quick Chek. “We also havea self-serve soup operation thatcrosses from lunch to dinner withthe 32-oz. size. We’re now workingto provide recipes so customers canmake meals out of them.”

Popular items for the chain areits Roasted Tomato and Garlic,which Vespole says is great overpasta, and the Mushroom and BrieBisque, which is delicious over eggnoodles or with chicken.

“Customers may shop with us inthe morning and at lunch, but wehave to entice them to comeback in the evening,” she said.

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