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CHICAGO -- Foodservice leaders from two of the convenience store industry's best-in-class operators and a leading c-store foodservice consultant will join Convenience Store News editors as featured speakers at this year's NRA Show, being held May 5-8 at Chicago's McCormick Place.
Two sessions at the show are being presented by Convenience Store News, the leading media brand in the c-store industry. In one session, "The State of C-store Foodservice," CSNews Editor-in-Chief Don Longo will be joined by Dean Dirks, founder and CEO of Dirks & Associates. Dirks, who started working in his father's grocery stores at age 8, started his career in retail foodservice with Marriott and has supervised branded concepts such as Starbucks, Domino's Pizza, Godfather's and Little Caesars, as well as proprietary foodservice. As vice president of operations for West Star, Dirks supervised 30 Shell-branded convenience stores and 20 restaurants, including Subway, Taco Bell, A&W, Winchell's Donuts and Seattle's Best Coffee, as well as other proprietary foodservice operations.
Longo and Dirks will review both consumer and retailer research documenting the current state of foodservice in the c-store industry and identifying the size of the opportunity for retailers to expand their foodservice focus.
In the other session, CSNews Executive Editor Linda Lisanti will moderate a panel discussion on "How To Do World-Class C-store Foodservice," a topic that is covered on a monthly basis in the magazine. This panel will include Jack Cushman, Ph.D., executive vice president of food services for Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, Jim Bressi, director of foodservice research and development for Kwik Trip Inc., and Dirks.
Cushman is responsible for all aspects of the food and beverage programs at Nice N Easy, which has more than 80 locations in upstate New York, including corporate and franchisee operations. Nice N Easy is a convenience store concept with a heavy emphasis on grocery and foodservice. Its most recent and ever-expanding food and beverage concept is branded as Easy Street Eatery, currently with over 20 locations. The proprietary concept is a quick-service model that rivals established national franchise brands.
Bressi is responsible for food branding, graphic design and packaging, food marketing and product development for La Crosse, Wis.-based Kwik Trip. A true "food guru," Bressi's career in foodservice spans more than 25 years with experience at hotels, restaurants and in culinary education. He carries his passion for food into all areas he serves and is truly a great innovator in the culinary and convenience food industry.
Cushman and Bressi, along with Dirks, will discuss specific challenges involved in c-store foodservice, how they overcame them and answer questions from the audience to help retailers become better foodservice operators.
The NRA Show is the foodservice industry's largest event. The annual show has become a must-attend event for convenience store operators, as foodservice becomes more and more important to their future success.
For more on the show, visit Floored!, the official blog of the NRA Show and International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event.