Foodservice Dinner

Foodservice Dinner

All that’s needed is a kitchen, cooler and an entrepreneurial spirit

By Meline Beach

When it comes to foodservice, don’t stop at roller grill hotdogs or heat lamp pizza. Dinner is a viable and profitable category for any C&G retailer that has a kitchen, a cooler, and an entrepreneurial spirit. Whether your foodservice offering is independently managed or franchised, the options for delicious dinners are limitless.

Franchised option

Subway Canada partners with many convenience stores across the country, including Circle K, ONroute, and different independents. As one of the world’s largest quick-service restaurant brands, their made-to-order sandwiches, wraps, salads, and bowls paired with chips or cookies and a beverage, represent a well-rounded meal. Their source of pride is their fresh ingredients, including Canadian farm-raised proteins, such as deli-style turkey and ham, rotisserie-style chicken, and grilled chicken; seasonal locally-sourced veggies; and innovative bold flavours and toppings like Canadian cheddar cheese.

Sunny Corner General Store in Sunny Corner, New Brunswick features a gas bar, an ANBL (alcohol sales) and a c-store with a 240-square-foot Subway franchise. Every meal occasion is covered within their business hours of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. In terms of the dinner category, customer favourites are chicken, steak, and assorted cold cuts, though the menu changes frequently to keep options fresh.

“While each Subway restaurant is franchisee-owned and operated, menu offerings can vary from location to location depending on product availability and capacity,” says Subway Country Director, Doug Fry. “Typically, the full menu is offered at convenience store locations and includes different portion sizes for a lighter or fuller meal, with the inclusion of protein (and double-protein) customizations.” 

For sales and marketing, franchise owners and operators can rely on Subway Canada for support. The company leverages a strategic marketing mix to engage with Canadians. This includes TV creative, public relations, social content, influencer partnerships, digital media and CRM newsletter distribution, and their proprietary app to work cohesively to serve Canadians the latest news and promotions. 

Locally, Sunny Corner General Store staff promote their foodservice offering using in-store and outdoor signage as well as the company’s Facebook page.

“Staff are also trained to work both sides of the business–convenience store and Subway–to cross-promote and help drive sales,” says Kathy Astle, general manager of Sunny Corner General Store, who has offered customers free food samples to pique interest. “We schedule three staff to work the Subway counter during lunch and dinner peak times, with a one and a half to two-hour shift overlap to ensure fast and efficient service.”

The store’s loyalty program also promotes the Subway franchise. With every $15 spent on gas, customers can collect a stamp. For every 12 stamps collected, a free 6″ sub is offered. 

“The wonderful smell of bread and cookies baking in the store also work well in driving sales,” says Astle. 

If you’re interested in owning a Subway franchise and possess an entrepreneurial spirit committed to building a successful business, Subway Canada invites you to contact them directly at https://www.subway.com/en-CA/OwnAFranchise/NextSteps. 

“Convenience store owners can propose a location through our franchising team if they have a location they believe would be great for a Subway restaurant and what they have to offer,” says Fry.

Independently managed

Prakash Patel is the owner of Corner Store Convenience & Takeout in Linwood, Ontario. The Corner Store, which has been serving the community since 2001, has a full-sized kitchen with a sandwich unit, stove, and fryer. The 500-square-foot kitchen offers many different food items, including fresh subs, burgers and sandwiches, wraps, wings, chili, a variety of sides and two dinner plates: breaded boneless chicken strips and English-style Alaskan pollock–typically served within 10 minutes of ordering. 

For the dinner category, customers can spend approximately $8 for a wholesome meal. The store’s assorted sub and chicken burgers are top sellers.

Patel makes every effort to source his ingredients locally and where not possible, he relies on Flanagan Foodservice as his food distributor. Based in Ontario, Flanagan provides over 10,000 items to foodservice operators across the province. 

At 100 made-to-order food sales per week, to mostly repeat customers and some visitors too, the Corner Store Convenience & Takeout has a loyal customer base. Prakash’s secret to success is fresh ingredients and fast service. With 17 reviews and a 4.2-star rating on Google, Corner Store Convenience & Takeout is cooking up something right.

Even with a cooler, c-stores can participate in the dinner category. Chilled or frozen grab-n-go foods serve customers on the run. Salads with a side of protein, such as chicken, ham or tofu, lasagna and other pasta, protein bowls with rice and vegetables, burritos, meatloaf, panini, and flatbread sandwiches are easy to heat in-store or at home. 

In the end, consumers want choice–be it fresh, made to order, or frozen. Given busy lifestyles, not everyone has the time or energy to make a meal from scratch. The neigbhourhood convenience store can serve its community’s foodservice needs with a kitchen, a cooler, and an entrepreneurial spirit. 

When it comes to foodservice, and the dinner category, the options, and ideas are limitless. One way to get started is to ask your customers about what foods interest them and suppliers about what’s trending. Retailers entering the category should consider starting small with just a few dinner options to choose from–see what sells and what doesn’t before expanding the program. Soon enough, your c-store will be known as the destination of choice for quick, quality food. A positive reputation will only raise revenue. 

PACKING A LUNCH 

As children have returned to in-classroom learning during the school months and camping or other adventures during the summer, the challenge of packing lunches has also resurfaced. Below are some new product suggestions that could entice parents into your store. 

GFB Bites:
Great taste combined with protein. Each single serving pack has 110 calories, four to five grams of plant-based protein and five grams of sugar, is non-GMO verified, gluten-free, and soy-free. 

MadeGood Star Puffed Crackers: Flavours: Cheddar, Sea Salt, Pizza. Nut-free, allergen friendly, organic, contains nutrients from vegetables, non-GMO, gluten-free and vegan.

MadeGood Cookies:
New flavours: Chocolate Chip, Vanilla, Double Chocolate, and Sweet Cinnamon. Nut-free, allergen friendly, organic, contains nutrients from vegetables, non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, recyclable bag.

Three Farmer Foods
Roasted Fava Beans:
New flavours: Dill Pickle and Jalapeno Lime. Dry roasted with plant protein and fibre.

Dandies Marshmallows:
New Flavour: Maple. Plant-based, vegan, certified kosher, non-GMO project verified, and free of many common allergens. No artificial flavours or colours, no corn syrup, no gelatin, and no gluten. 

McSweeney’s ZERO
Sugar Beef Jerky:
New flavour: Smokin’ Jalapeno. Gluten-free and keto friendly.

McSweeney’s All Beef
Pep ‘N Ched 90g:
A combination of an all-beef pepperoni stick with a real cheddar cheese stick made from Canadian milk. Gluten-free and keto friendly.

Spark Bites:
New flavours: Chocolate Chip, Turmeric. Non-GMO project verified, gluten-free, vegan friendly.

Meline Beach is a Toronto-based communications practitioner and frequent contributor to Convenience & Carwash Canada. In addition to freelance writing, Meline provides communications and public relations support to businesses across Canada.

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