Making room for foodservice
How will this trend shift store design? “In many future formats, we are seeing new space dedicated to local or craft-type products,” notes Soucie. “In these areas, you will see woodgrains or rustic-style finishes, warm colours designed to generate a ‘small batch’ locally made emotional response from shoppers.”
When it comes to new builds, brands are also investing in larger footprints. “They want to be able to offer a modern c-store design that incorporates space for open-concept QSRs,” says Linda Thompson, managing partner at Fuel Partners. “These designs invite the consumer to linger longer and improve customer experiences.”
In London, Ont., for instance, Canco partnered with Pita Pit for a location on 1255 Kilally Rd. that features an open-concept QSR experience inside their One Stop convenience store.
7-Eleven Canada, meanwhile, has designed and launched new dine-in seating areas at licensed locations in two provinces so far.
In Alberta, the chain now has seven locations with licensed dining. And in May, a location in Niagara Falls began offering dine-in, after undergoing a remodel to add an enclosed seating area and a license to serve beer and wine to customers of age was secured. This is 7-Eleven Canada’s second location with a full-menu dining experience in Ontario; the first opened in December in Leamington after that location underwent a complete remodel.
“7-Eleven Canada is a food-first business with over 130 fresh food and beverage options, many of which are prepared on location,” says Marc Goodman, vice-president and general manager of 7-Eleven Canada. “At our new licensed restaurants, our adult guests can enjoy a glass of beer or wine alongside their meal for dine-in, take-out or delivery.”
In addition to a menu of beer and wine for of-age guests, diners can choose from a menu of food offerings, including chicken sandwiches, potato wedges and pizza.
[Read more: "7-Eleven begins serving beer and wine at Niagara Falls location"]
“The design of our dine-in spaces is increasingly important, with an emphasis on maintaining an open concept that complements the retail space,” says Goodman. “Low pony walls designate the licensed dining area, and allow for good visibility. Spacious dining areas are furnished with comfortable seating for 10 tables and chairs, lean bars and stools, as well as digital signage, music and free Wi-Fi. The dining areas signal 7-Eleven Canada is first and foremost a food destination to be enjoyed on- or off-premise. We continue to learn and will undoubtedly evolve as we lean into the food business.”
As the channel evolves to embrace new categories, from foodservice to beverage alcohol, better-for-you snacks and more, as well as serve a new generation of consumers, store layout and design are also undergoing an exciting evolution.