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The New Normal: C-Store Foodservice Operations During the Pandemic
The New Normal: C-Store Foodservice Operations During the Pandemic
Jul 10, 2020
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With reports indicating that elements of social distancing may continue through 2021 and beyond, convenience stores must navigate the “new normal” as it pertains to foodservice.

C-stores have already taken preventative action to slow the spread of the Coronavirus by following sanitation and social distancing guidelines and removing self-serve offerings, such as roller grills, bakery cases and beverage stations.

Removing self-serve food reduces the spread of germs, but creates a gap in potential sales. In order to remain nimble — and profitable — convenience stores can explore new ways to offer foodservice, while still complying with federal guidance to keep patrons and workers safe.

 
Prepackaged goods
Self-serve food may be temporarily on hold, but the same offerings can be served prepackaged from suppliers. In mid-March, 7-Eleven announced their baked goods would be sold prepackaged. They also replaced their fresh condiments bar with individual condiment packets.

Other C-Stores, like Pilot and Kwik Trip, now serve prepackaged deli foods like sandwiches, wraps, fruit and salads, and packaged roller grill items like hot dogs and taquitos.

Some locations have kept self-served food, like frozen yogurt, available, but with modifications. Instead of offering fresh, open-air toppings, some stores only offer toppings in sealed canisters or dispensers. This enables easy cleaning.

 
Clerk-served stations
C-stores who want to preserve a food or beverage service without compromising safety can explore clerk-, or associate-served stations. Kum & Go announced that all pizza would be served by clerks, instead of taken by patrons from the hot case.

Stripes Stores said that open-air hot food, if not prepackaged, can be served to customers by a team member. Following suit, Sheetz suspended self-serve coffee and fountain drinks, but offers made-to-order coffee and smoothies from employees.

 
In-store incentives
To help recoup lost sales during the early weeks of quarantine, when in-store purchases flattened, c-stores can offer gasoline discounts, or other incentives, for patrons who pay with cash. Doing this brings customers into the store, where they are more likely to impulse-buy a prepackaged food or beverage item.

According to a Slickdeals survey, more than 70 percent of respondents named food as their biggest impulse purchase. Experiment in your convenience store with product placement near the register to increase quick purchases before cash payments.

Lastly, C-stores can attract customers who don’t want to shop in big-box grocery stores because of crowds by selling grocery items like milk, eggs, bread, lunch meat and pantry staples like peanut butter, pasta, soup and tuna.

While there is nothing “normal” about foodservice during the COVID-19 pandemic, convenience stores who remain agile and open to alternative options may find new — and healthful — ways to serve their customers.

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Matchbox® 1718/1313
Matchbox® 1718/1313

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Conveyor 2600/2000/1400
Conveyor 2600/2000/1400

Simple, smart and the right fit for operators looking for a high-throughput conveyor oven. The Ovention Conveyor Oven is the most technologically elegant and operator-friendly conveyor on the market today.

Shuttle® 2000/1600/1200
Shuttle® 2000/1600/1200

If you value precision and volume, Ovention has the perfect oven to fit your operation. The Shuttle sets the new standard for conveyor ovens everywhere. No other oven can operate as both a conveyor and a closed-cavity oven.

Matchbox® M360 14/12
Matchbox® M360 14/12

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Finishing F1400
Finishing F1400

Finish your plates with ease and precision with this robust IR finishing conveyor. Melt, sear, toast, and finish to perfection with this operator-friendly, quiet conveyor.

MiLO® Double/Single
MiLO® Double/Single

Revolutionary infusion of Decoupled Air and Infrared (IR) technologies. Independently controlled top and bottom cavities, each with its own interior light and control panel.

MiSA®‑a12
MiSA®‑a12

Introducing MiSA; Microwave Speed Assist. Higher quality, higher speed, smaller footprint.

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