Food Fight: Competing with Big Brand Menus

Nowadays, people don’t ask “if” a C-store offers food. Instead they ask, “how good is your C-store food?” 

A large part of Breeze Thru’s brand-building strategy starts in the kitchen. Instead of trying to match the big brand menus, Vice President of Retail, Mark Smith and his team are creating a different kind of reputation. 

The Missing Ingredient 

Most of Breeze Thru’s competition is made up of larger, national brands, but Smith says they’ve found a blind spot in their strategy – fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.   

“We’ve gone fresh and local,” Smith says. “Our bakery program is run through two local bakeries so we can pick up every day. They have a name recognition in our neighborhoods, and people know they can pick these guys up if I can’t get down to the actual bakery.” 

Leading the way in the kitchen is Food Service Manager, Steve Rotondo. With a background in hotel restaurants, Rotondo knows how to run a kitchen, but he says, “a C-store is a totally different animal.” 

The hottest items tend to be familiar foods that travel well. The number one seller at the Oak City Deli & Grill is the Philly Cheesesteak followed by the Triple-Decker Turkey Club sandwich. 

No Kitchen, No Problem 

Not all Breeze Thru’s are equipped for a restaurant-level kitchen, but it doesn’t mean they don’t stock those stores with fresh, local foods. 

Rotondo operates a spoke-and-wheel commissary strategy to ensure more locations offer a fresh food option. One kitchen will stock nearby stores with fresh sandwiches and other lunch items like egg salad. Rotondo plans to open more kitchens to grow their food service footprint. 

The Future of Food Ordering 

Breeze Thru’s food service also sets itself apart from the competition by streamlining the ordering process. By combining Passport Express Lane self-checkout with Express Ordering, customers can shop, scan, order, and pay – all at the same kiosk. 

“It’s been pretty fun so far to see it, because nobody else has it,” Smith says.  

Once the food is ordered on the self-checkout kiosk, the work of the customer is done, and the information is sent to the kitchen. Gilbarco’s Kitchen Monitor System transfers the orders to a screen that directs the kitchen staff how to complete the order. 

“It’s just another alternative to speed up the process because there are customers that just need to grab-and-go because they need to get back to work, and there are customers that want to do custom orders and create their own sandwiches,” Smith said. “So it’s been fun to see it all come together.” 

To learn more about Passport Express Lane self-checkout system – click here

For more information on Express Ordering – click here