No longer just a venue for traditional American hot dogs, roller grills that sport everything from Mexican tortas to pork-filled Chinese steamed buns to breadsticks stuffed with jalapeño peppers and cheese are popping up all over the country.

Roller Grills Growing Up

Thanks to a surge of new products focused on ethnic diversity, the roller grill is hotter than ever before. There has been so much emphasis on fresh, made-to-order food and upscale coffee programs in the convenience store industry it’s easy to forget the tried-and-true roller grill. Sometimes implicated as part of the industry’s food-image problem—burned

Health Trend Here to Stay

Consumers in the U.S. might be trimming the fat from their budgets and diets, but contrary to predictions, they continue to demonstrate a healthy appetite for foods featuring health and wellness claims. From alpha (antioxidants) to omega (omega-3-fatty-acids), foods touting the kind of heart healthy, joint buffering, free radical extinguishing properties that appeal to aging

Pizza Offers Foodservice Flexibility

As foodservice sales make up for lost gasoline and cigarette profits, more retailers are jumping on the pizza bandwagon. It’s a wise move considering Americans love their pizza. According to Parade magazine, 94% of the U.S. population eats pizza; Pizzaware.com noted that Americans eat about 100 acres of pizza each day (350 slices per second);

Turning a Foodservice Profit

With many c-stores moving into foodservice to compensate for lagging cigarette and gasoline sales, the roller grill is becoming more important than ever for driving sales. According to industry retailers, among the emerging trends worth noting is the growing popularity of breakfast sausages for the morning daypart, while spicy and ethnic flavors continue to attract

C-Store Food Sales Get Healthier

Convenience retailers are increasing their share of healthy, fresh food sales, according to industry observers, who noted convenience outlets and big boxes are also gaining share at the expense of grocery stores. Though fresh and prepared foods offer high margin rings, c-store retailers should be certain they are truly ready to do food preparation before

Finding Pizza Perfection

Choosing a branded pizza partner means balancing a complex equation that weighs such factors as product quality, financial and logistical considerations, marketing programs, employee training, ongoing support, brand equity and local competition. Suddenly, a cheese pizza isn’t so simple any more. It’s a complex decision that must be made carefully, said Dan Rotherham, director of

Ethnic Flair Drives Roller Grill

My, how the roller grill continues to evolve. No longer visited exclusively by customers hungry for a hot dog, roller grills now boast a growing variety of ethnic foods nationwide, featuring everything from Mexican tortas to pork-filled Chinese steamed buns to breadsticks stuffed with jalapeno peppers and cheese. “We brought egg rolls and tornados into

Foodservice Flexibility

Few items that c-stores carry personify the industry’s mission more fully than sandwiches and wraps:  convenient, colorful, fast, tasty, inexpensive and full of impulse-sale potential. But the fact that consumers can also find them everywhere—from Wal-Mart and Barnes & Noble to Starbucks and every local grocery and convenience store in between—means operators have to get

Americans’ Changing Love Affair with Pizza

Consumers have shifted their pizza-ordering habits, cutting back on weekdays but ordering more often on weekends, Technomic Information Services found earlier this year. In 2006, Technomic found that 35% of consumers indicated that they would primarily order pizza for dinner during the week, and just over a quarter (28%) typically ordered pizza for dinner during

Establishing the Right Foodservice Brand

There are few sure things in business. But partnering with an established foodservice brand could be about as close as one can get. That’s because proven concepts offer so much, such as built-in brand equity, customer loyalty, honed or even turnkey systems with shorter learning curves, proven menus and recipes, pre-existing designs and equipment packages

Foodservice Flexibility

New items that c-stores carry personify the industry’s mission more fully than sandwiches and wraps: convenient, colorful, fast, tasty, inexpensive and full of impulse-sale potential. But the fact that consumers can also find them everywhere—from Wal-Mart and Barnes & Noble to Starbucks and every local grocery and convenience store in between—means operators have to get

Partnering for Perfection

Choosing a branded pizza partner means balancing a complex equation that weighs such factors as product quality, financial and logistical considerations, marketing programs, employee training, ongoing support, brand equity and local competition. Suddenly, a cheese pizza isn’t so simple any more. It’s a complex decision that must be made carefully, said Dan Rotherham, director of

Chicken Facts

Though fried chicken remains the category leader, rotisserie-cooked chicken is rapidly growing in popularity. Results from the annual Consumer Market for Chicken 1,000 Household Survey show that 23% of respondents had purchased rotisserie chicken in four weeks prior to the survey. Results also showed that 25- to 34-year-olds are the least likely to have made

Keeping Costs in Check

Cutting costs won’t necessarily bring more customers into your store, but it will boost your bottom line. And though heaven knows costs are tough to cut these days, there is one way convenience retailers can save a bundle—by lowering food waste. C-store retailers seeking to win more customers by expanding food offerings should become vigilant

Measuring Up Your Supplier

The martyrs in the retail world may think they’re alone as they move to counter the forces perpetually squeezing their profit margins—credit card fees, consumer spending slow-downs, a credit crunch and increased operating costs—but there’s an often-overlooked ally at their disposal: suppliers.  “The supplier representative knows a lot of the retailer’s history and a lot

Looking at the Future Face of America

Continued ethnic population growth is making ethnic consumers one of the most sought-after demographics in the American retail grocery market. While the following demographic facts and expectations are based on U.S. census bureau data, the variety within each ethnic population means retailers need to tailor the ethnic food products they carry as closely as possible

Developing an Effective Foodservice Program

Menu development is an essential though often overlooked element in the success of a c-store’s foodservice program. So, while operators may go about it differently, they must all see to it that they do, indeed, go about it.  From consumers’ desires and local competition to convenience, equipment costs, supplier availability and more, menu development is

Breakfast, The Daypart That Delivers

In March, Rick Pajak and his team rolled out a new breakfast sandwich program under Wilson Farms’ self-branded Fresh N Ready label. The sandwiches come in four varieties produced by Lettieri’s, a division of Hot Stuff Foods, which was able to tailor the menu according to the chain’s tastes. The previous program required employees to

Prepackaged Options Expanding

Prepackaged food sales are booming nationwide and new choices are springing up to help convenience store retailers grow in-store sales. Successful prepackaged food merchandising is all about display, said Jerry Weiner, vice president of foodservice for Rutter’s Farm Stores in York, Pa. “Grab-and-go sales have tripled since we moved products from four-foot open-air cases to

Building Brick by Brick

At a quick glance it makes for a dismal picture: Killer interchange fees, nightmarish margins on gas, ever-rising tobacco taxes thanks to the whimsies of politicos. There’s a host of potholes marring the road to profitability, and few convenience chains on the market can afford to bankroll a multimillion dollar facility to optimize their foodservice

For Health and Wellness Devotees, Money Doesn’t Matter

A study by the Natural Marketing Institute found retail sales within the U.S. foodservice and consumer packaged goods’ health and wellness industry hit $102.8 billion in 2007, representing 15% growth since 2006, adding that there doesn’t seem to be any signs of a slowdown in this sector. NMI predicted that double-digit growth of the health

Cooking up Surefire Profits

As rising food and gas prices and killer credit card interchange fees are making for one hellacious economic hurricane, a c-store’s foodservice program could prove to be the fallout shelter. That was the consensus from c-store retailers and researchers participating in the first installment of CSD’s Foodservice Webcast Series, sponsored by Sam’s Club, on June

Steppin’ into Spring and Springing into Summerby Jim Callahan, Convenience Solutions

I recently read a great quote attributed to a one time door-to-door sales person and lately more recognizable as founder of the billion-dollar company that bears her name, Mary Kay Cosmetics. Mary Kay Ash said, “Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as

C-Stores Make Pizza Time

ore than a century ago, Italian peddlers would walk up and down the cobblestones street of New York, Chicago and Philadelphia selling pizza from metal drums they carried on their backs. Then pizzerias started opening in and around major cities in the 1900s. Eventually chain pizza deliveries like Little Caesars, Pizza Hut and Domino’s began

Spicing Up the Roller Grill

Thanks to a surge of new products focused on ethnic diversity, the roller grill—the original anchor for most convenience store hot food programs—is hotter than ever before. "Customers automatically associate c-stores and roller grills. It’s been a source of great sales for us," said Scott Huggins, a marketing specialist for San Antonio-based Tesoro Petroleum Corp.

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