Next course? Food shops in eateries

July 14, 2011

Foodservice operators should sell their signature items, packaged for home consumption, from their own shops.

For restaurateurs, the migration of some of their core brands to supermarket shelves may have skipped an essential step. In their desire to scale, did some overlook the opportunity right under their nose – to sell their marquee items from retail food displays within their own eateries?

No doubt for many of these restaurant brands in supermarkets (some under different owners), the experience is lucrative. Yet they compete in a different arena under ground rules they must obey, including frequently lower margins.

Within their own eateries, however, they could sell a near-replication of the dining experience at home. This isn’t ready-to-eat takeout to quiet a rumbling belly. This is a convenient meal solution, or part of one, that is an anticipated pleasure – if not for an adult, at least for a kid, and that’s just as good for sales. Foodservice operators – even those that sell their items in supermarkets – could gain from their own displays or shops that keep people on their premises associating with their brand, we feel at The Lempert Report.

Packaged sales for home consumption could occur on the way out after people enjoy a meal, or demand could inspire additional trips and balance traffic throughout the day. Retailers and restaurateurs alike re-learned an essential lesson in this recession – that trips are golden. Why give any away? Indeed.  

Think back to Howard Johnson’s, which sold its brand of tartar sauce, ice cream and salt water taffy. How great would it have been if they also packaged and sold their signature fried clam sandwiches?

Friendly’s sells ice cream from freezer cases at the front. Couldn’t they also pre-package their popular melt sandwiches?

The Palm sells Caesar dressing. How much would patrons love to buy dry-aged beef to go from the experts they respect most?

The offer of signature products will be key to making people feel the restaurant is an extension of their own homes.