Six Factors for Success in C-Store Foodservice

By Bruce Reinstein || June 3, 2024 || Originally published by

As the c-store landscape changes, more c-stores are shifting their approach to food to keep pace with evolving customer expectations.

How important is foodservice to the future of convenience stores?

The response to this question varies considerably from company to company and person to person. There are many factors that go into the response as rural stores will vary from urban locations and the type of consumer will also have an impact.

The one thing that is very consistent is that today’s consumer is looking for some type of foodservice whether it is “restaurant quality” or simply something to eat or drink. There is not one way to do food, but without foodservice, there may not be a future for many convenience stores.

Here are six factors for success in foodservice to pay attention to amidst the changing c-store landscape.

1. Adapting to the “modern” c-store consumer. The modern consumer still values convenience when it comes to c-store foodservice, but their demands are quite different from the traditional consumer. The younger consumer is looking for healthier options that are freshly prepared. They prefer customized products, but grab n’ go with a clear differentiation toward quality is appreciated. The modern consumer wants to engage through technology whenever possible so they can order and pay at their pace and be able to customize, when possible, to their preferences. They will pay a little more to get what they want.

2. Thinking like restaurants. If you want to be successful in c-store foodservice, you must think like a restaurant. The downfall of c-store foodservice is when there is a lack of commitment to standards and 100% execution. A convenience-only mindset cannot be a factor in creating a great foodservice program. Restaurant operators focus on food quality, service/hospitality and delivering on the promise. C-store foodservice must follow this formula. It will help create a more loyal foodservice customer. The foodservice team should want the consumer to come for food and beverages and then get gas and more while they are there, as opposed to coming for gas and other products and then deciding to purchase food or beverages.

3. Understanding changing consumer expectations. For many consumers, simply purchasing food and beverages without knowing more about what they are buying is old news. Expectations have changed dramatically and will continue to change. It starts with quality products and a selection that appeals to a broad base of consumers. Quality and freshness are where the consumer starts. Many are looking at health and wellness when they make their selections. Others are looking at ethnic and global flavors. Our population continues to become more diverse and consumer palates are changing. Today’s consumers also live in a digital world and want order and payment options that allow for an easy and consistent experience.


4. Engaging with the community to drive customer loyalty. C-stores used to be the place where you picked up something when nothing else was available or it was on the way to somewhere else. Foodservice has made c-stores into destinations and with that comes the responsibility to be a part of the community by supporting events and the people who make a community great. It is great to tell a story, but it’s important to deliver on the story. Community engagement drives traffic, but it doesn’t maintain traffic. Consistent food and beverage quality and great hospitality will keep them coming back.

5. Driving traffic. C-store foodservice operators are looking to both drive more traffic as well as maintain the traffic that they have. The consumer wants nothing more than to be loyal and come to the same locations to get what they crave. Whether it is grab n’ go, customized or a combination of both, the product quality must meet or exceed expectations and must be consistent each and every time the consumer has the product. It therefore falls on the operator to have a menu and limited-time offers that each employee is capable of producing consistently. The consumer will not accept poor service, out-of-stock items or a product that does not meet their expectations. Traffic will grow, but foodservice operators must make the difficult decisions necessary to provide the consumer with what they want.

6. Balancing driving revenue with managing costs. It is quite simple. Growth without profitability is a formula that does not work. Many have worked hard on driving revenue through loss leaders. It is important in today’s marketplace to run promotions on the foodservice side that are compelling, a good value and more profitable than a standard menu item. It sounds like a daunting task, but it really isn’t. It takes some creativity, engagement with the customer to understand what they are looking for and engagement with the foodservice staff to confirm what the customer wants.


Freshness, quality, healthier options, combos, a diverse menu, enhanced packaging, hospitality and consistency are important drivers of revenue, but the challenge remains to make sure that cost is fully evaluated to create a true balance.

For More Information Contact Your Sales Rep or Call 800-992-0592