food for thought

Growing up in New York City few things are as natural to me as eating out. Even now with my second child on the way, a minimum of two meals a day are eaten at a restaurant or convenience store near wherever the day's business takes me. The kitchen table is more of a convenient place to store things, like tools and diet pills.

While putting together CSD's annual foodservice issue, I realized I'm not alone. Chain after chain talked about the need to deliver quality food quickly and at a good price, not just to serve the customers' needs at breakfast, lunch and dinner today, but day after day. The adage rings true; you can fool the customer with bad food and poor service, but you only get to do it once. There is too much competition for share of stomach to be trusted to do it again.

Back in 1997 I had the opportunity to sit down with Dave Thomas, founder of the Wendy's chain to interview him about his retail strategy. One of the first things he said to me was, "You know why our hamburgers are square? Because we don't cut corners."

Over the past decade many things have changed about the way a foodservice program is executed, but that philosophy has not. The retailers winning the battle for foodservice dollars offer good food, value and convenience, and they don't cut corners.

Regional focus
Foodservice aside, one issue convenience retailers should keep an eye on is New York Gov. George Pataki's unilateral decision not to enforce a measure he signed into law last year to collect taxes on sales of gasoline and tobacco by Native American retailers to non-Native American customers. Inexplicably, the governor is refusing to enforce his own law, which was supposed to take effect March 1, leaving thousands of c-store owners in limbo just when they thought relief was in sight.

Why is the governor doing it? Who knows? He says he wants to promote "useful dialog" with Native Americans to come to an amicable solution. He also blames the state budget, the state legislature, the state comptroller, the weather


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