Men in White, Part 1

Nice N Easy cooks up fresh take on foodservice with three chefs

Published in CSP Daily News

By  Abbie Westra, Editor-in-Chief, Convenience Store Products

CANASTOTA, N.Y. -- The ad popped up on Syracuse.com: Regional c-store chain, looking for a chef. Doug Walters, who was cooking at one of the best restaurants in West Central New York, saw it and thought, "Geez, I wonder what that's all about? I should put a portfolio together." But he let it pass. The ad came back up, and this time he acted.

Meanwhile, David Haynes, an "in-the-trenches" kind of chef, had been looking for a culinary job in R&D when he saw the Nice N Easy ad. "It intrigued me as much as I must have intrigued them," he says with a laugh.

Andrew Franco has cooked food everywhere from grocery chain P&C to an Italian restaurant and a hospital. His mother-in-law sent him the Nice N Easy post.

John MacDougall, owner and CEO of the 81-store upstate New York chain, didn't intend to hire three chefs. One ad went out, and all three chefs (along with many others) applied for the same job. Each brought a different set of skills and personality that yielded an environment none of them could deliver alone.

"We were looking for creativity, but each of these three guys have become excellent teachers," MacDougall told CSP Daily News. "That's what really drives a program--when your people have the confidence to know they're doing the right thing."

Walters, Haynes and Franco mark a new stage for foodservice at Nice N Easy, a stage marked by creativity and hospitality. "[We had] to find people that had that type of background, experience and education and bring them in and turn them loose. Don't mess with their minds, just let them do what they have to do," said MacDougall.

Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes operates more than 80 stores throughout the state of New York, with executive offices located in Canastota, N.Y.

Coming up: A look at what the chefs have accomplished so far. And to read more about Nice N Easy's latest foodservice phase, click here or watch for the November issue of CSP magazine.

By Abbie Westra, Editor-in-Chief, Convenience Store Products
View More Articles By Abbie Westra