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SCHAUMBURG, Ill. — Members of the Convenience Store News How To Crew — an esteemed council of foodservice experts from the retailer, supplier, wholesaler, research and consulting fields — shared their opinions on a variety of convenience foodservice-related topics during a panel discussion at CSNews’ inaugural Convenience Foodservice Exchange event.
The “Ask the Experts panel,” moderated by CSNews Editorial Director Don Longo, included:
- Joe Chiovera, XS Foodservice & Marketing
- Justin Miklos, director of foodservice, Coen Oil Co.
- Larry Miller, Miller Management & Consulting Services
- Tim Powell, Q1 Consulting
- Tom Cook, King-Casey
All of the panelists agreed that coffee is king of the beverage side of convenience foodservice, partially due to its high margins, as well as its easy preparation. It is also popular across many demographic groups, making a coffee program a sound investment for c-stores.
Chiovera noted that along with its ability to trigger other purchases as customers buy sweet and savory items to eat with their java, c-store coffee has one advantage over competitors.
"What we still own is customization. We lost convenience a long time ago compared to coffee retailers that offer drive-thrus. However, c-store customers can often make their own cup exactly as they want it,” Chiovera said. "The best cup of coffee made for Joe is by Joe."
Whether used for coffee or not, drive-thrus have the potential to deliver the ultimate convenience for customers, but they don't fit all operations; it depends on such factors as location and site layout.
For retailers considering adding a drive-thru, Chiovera had this advice: “If you're purchasing real estate for foodservice, without question, I think it's the smartest move you could possible make. However, if an existing store is being retrofitted and there is some doubt about whether the site's features would allow a drive-thru to drive sales, it might not be appropriate.”
Other operational improvements have been made possible by advances in retail foodservice equipment — and could provide even more benefits, the panelists pointed out. For example, a rapid-cook oven now being used to make items that will remain in a warmer for two hours is not being used efficiently, they said.
Convenience Store News, a division of EnsembleIQ, hosted the inaugural Convenience Foodservice Exchange at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel on Sept. 15-16. It is the only conference and exhibition focused entirely on convenience store foodservice. The event drew approximately 50 retailers, representing more than 22,000 stores.