It’s 2PM. I want a snack, maybe something heartier because I’m not eating dinner until late tonight but I also want it to be healthy. My options are to stop at a quick service or fast casual chain restaurant or I can stop at Wawa and pick up a freshly prepared salad, or even Walgreens to get some premade sushi.
This trend of convenience stores acting more like quick service restaurants is a rising trend. The new concept called the “grocerant”.
And these concepts are starting to steal more and more of restaurants’ different day-part sales. Getting hot, freshly prepared, or ready to make foods isn’t just confined to grocery stores or restaurants anymore.
I was stunned, for instance, when a new Walgreens opened in downtown Chicago and it served fresh sushi and serve-yourself frozen yogurt!
The question is this: how do traditional restaurants compete while c-stores eat at their sales?
There is one significant gain that quick service and fast food restaurants have over their grocerant competitors, and that is the appeal of eating at a convenience store is not completely there yet. There are some exceptions to this rule – some gas stations even have fine dining restaurants in them like Chef Point in Watauga, TX – but for the most part, people still don’t feel completely comfortable eating inside convenience stores or gas stations.
My advice is to bank on that discomfort. Appeal to the reasons diners are opting for these dining options – quick, freshly prepared food, and great variety. This is especially important when it comes to snacking. Make your options known and capitalize on the ease of dining in and your ambiance, because when someone is choosing between those factors, your restaurant will always win out! At the same time, keep it as simple and easy as possible for customers to also carry-out these items so that you are always the first choice.