service with a signature

George Salinas, deli supervisor for Triple S Petroleum, shares secrets for making his foodservice offering unique.

by Michael Ferrari ____________________________________________

Foodservice is a rapidly growing segment in the industry, and more and more chains are implementing them into their offering every day. Austin, Texas-based Triple S Petroleum, which runs under the Signature banner, is just one of the stores that sees a bright future in foodservice. Headed by Deli Supervisor George Salinas, the chain has enjoyed success and growth with their entrance into the segment.

“Since we put a deli inside the store, sales have gone through the roof,” Salinas told CSD while attending the 2007 Foodservice Conference. “The trick to it, we’ve learned, is to stay ahead of the game.”

And staying ahead seems to be no problem for Salinas and company. The deli program at the chain is constantly succeeding with ideas that may seem unorthodox to some retailers, such as offering lunch-based items during their breakfast daypart.

“We serve a lot third-shift workers and early morning workers, such as factory workers and landscapers, who are picking up lots of tacos, burritos and sandwiches” Salinas explained. “A lot of them are in the middle of or ending their shift by 9am, and looking for lunch or dinner. Even people who are just starting their day tend to pick up lunch items for the afternoon.”

With the morning bringing in so much of the customer base, the company is focusing on new initiatives to enhance the day part by carrying lattes, mochas and more traditional breakfast fare as well.

“You have to build on breakfast,” said Salinas. “It’s such an important time for this industry.”

Salinas finds that success comes with freshness and innovation. All the food is prepared in small batches to reduce spoilage and ensure that customers are receiving fresh food. The chain uses mostly pre-portioned ingredients to ensure consistency and size. One of the only items that doesn#x2019;t come pre-portioned is the store’s hot sauce, which Salinas said the chain prefers to keep inconsistent for a very good reason.

“Whichever employee is working behind the counter that day is in charge of making the hot sauce, and we encourage them to use their own recipes,” said Salinas. “It adds a little twist to the food, but more importantly, it gives the employee a better sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, which is great for retention.”

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