As the line between c-stores and quick-serve restaurants (QSRs) becomes increasingly blurred, and consumers become more accustomed to made-to-order foodservice, the roller grill is no longer a given.
As with all c-store segments, operators must ask themselves whether the roller grill is the best fit at their locations.
So, what sets the roller grill apart from other foodservice offers, and how do you know if a roller grill is right for your c-store?
The roller grill can be a great option for any c-store, but it’s especially helpful for c-stores with very limited space. A super-small store may not have room for the type of kitchen necessary for made-to-order foodservice. The roller grill provides these types of stores with a solid foodservice option that takes up minimal space.
We know that today’s consumers love customization, and this is where made-to-order foodservice options really shine. But customization can be challenging for operators, especially for c-stores, given their space constraints.
The roller grill is especially beneficial for stores with not only limited space, but also limited employees.
Because the roller grill is self-serve, it’s a great way to keep labor costs low while still providing customers with a great grab-and-go foodservice option. While, of course, the roller grill must be properly and frequently cleaned and restocked, it’s relatively low-maintenance compared with other offers.
Granted, the pandemic did pose some unique challenge for the roller grill in particular: Amid shutdowns and heightened concerns over food safety, along with regional regulations, some retailers paused roller grill sales altogether. Meanwhile, others were able to bring the segment behind the counter as a way to meet COVID-19 safety requirements while continuing to serve customers.
While made-to-order foodservice is increasingly popular, there’s a reason the roller grill is a tried and true favorite for c-stores: The roller grill is the ultimate convenience — a quick and easy lunch or snack for customers in a hurry.
Roller grill offers also tend to be less expensive than made-to-order foods while still being some of Americans’ favorites.
In fact, overall sales of hot dogs actually rose about 20% in 2020, and total pounds 7% over 2019, according to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council. In March, at the start of the pandemic’s spread in the. U.S., sales soared 127% in grocery stores specifically before they began to even out.
Dinner sausage sales experienced a similar increase. Overall in 2020, they were up 24% in sales and 15% in total pounds.
Ultimately, while the roller grill can be a great option for any store, big or small, no matter the location, there are a few key indicators to determine whether or not a roller grill is the right fit. As with most things, the answer will likely depend on your particular store’s needs and constraints as well as your specific clientele.