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WESTPORT, Conn. — To directly compete with quick-service and fast-casual restaurants, as well as supermarkets and other fresh-food resources, the convenience store of the future will put a particular focus on food-related offerings, transforming into more of a convenience restaurant.
In November, Convenience Store News will present a special edition of the magazine centered on the question: What will the "convenience store" look like a decade or more from now? The c-store industry's leading media brand is partnering with some of the top thought leaders and design firms in the nation to give readers a preview at how the convenience store will evolve over the next several years and how it will serve a changing customer base.
Just like today where we see many different types of c-store models in action, the future will be composed of different types of c-stores, each focused on different aspects of the convenience experience and on different customer archetypes. C-stores of the future will likely incorporate aspects of all four of these basic types: The Convenience Restaurant; The Refueling & Refreshing Center; The Neighborhood Market; and The Forecourt of the Future.
Here, we provide a sneak peek of The Convenience Restaurant. For this future store type, CSNews called on Westport, Conn.-based design firm King-Casey to present its vision.
Howland Blackiston, principal at King-Casey, said there are three customer (and non-customer) groups c-store operators must focus on in the years ahead: traditional convenience store users, Millennials and what King-Casey refers to as Balancer Moms.
Because each of these groups has different needs, c-stores of the future will be divided into "customer operating zones." Each zone, he explained, will be responsive to the unique needs of each different target customer set.
King-Casey envisions the convenience restaurant concept consisting of, among other things:
- Multiple Food Zones: The store includes a variety of themed food concepts, like you would find in a mall’s food court. These zones feature informal seating for those in a hurry, and adventuresome variety and choice to satisfy a variety of needs.
- Upstairs Dining Zone: Comfortable and varied seating zones allow for more leisurely dining. Different areas of the upstairs dining can appeal to different audiences (families, singles, etc.)
- Car Hop Dining Zone: Drive up, park, order and pay by touchscreen. The customer's meal is brought right to the car.
- Fast Food Drive-Thru Zone: Drive up, order and pay for choices from any of the store's several themed food concepts. There’s something for everyone.
Check out CSNews.com all this week for sneak peeks of each Store of the Future prototype.