Men in White, Part 2

Five months in, the Nice N Easy chefs are providing the works

Published in CSP Daily News

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

Doug Walters, David Haynes, Andrew Franco

CANASTOTA, N.Y. -- Five months after adding not one but three trained chefs to its staff, Nice N Easy has refreshed its grab-and-go foods and given customers something to take home.

(See Related Content below for "Men in White, Part 1.")

In their first assignment, the chefs--Doug Walters, David Haynes and Andrew Franco--were tasked with refreshing Nice N Easy's grab-and-go foods, such as salads and fruit cups. Attention is given to the color, texture and placement of every last ingredient. They've also rolled out an indulgent grilled-cheese sandwich line, including a Reuben, a breakfast melt, Philly steak and a make-your-own option.

But the big project has been a line of home-meal replacements--full meals meant to strengthen Nice N Easy's presence in the dinner daypart.

Sales of the $6.99, ready-to-heat meals--roast beef, lasagna, sausage or salmon with two sides--have been promising in the two stores that carry them. They're lined up in a walk-around, open-air cooler along with fresh fruit cups, yogurt, meat-and-cheese snacks, salads and whole produce. The cooler is adjacent to the sub and pizza make line, where most customers are already accustomed to going. A number of folks have figured out they can ask a sales associate to heat their meal up for them to eat in the stores' small dining area, which also has free Wi-Fi.

The home-meal replacements--with which the supermarket industry has struggled to gain momentum for decades--are not met without trepidation. But the team believes a c-store is a more natural fit for them than a grocery store is anyway.

For the Nice N Easy team, that's just it. "Wegmans is an Easter egg hunt," Jack Cushman, the company's executive vice president of foodservice, told CSP Daily News, referring to the regional grocery chain's stores. "It's not convenient, and isn't meant to be."

Cushman helps bring the chefs' creative ideas into c-store reality.

As for the chefs, all arrived at Nice N Easy with a sense of curiosity and a desire to escape the late nights and long weeks of being a restaurant chef. "After you hit 42, it gets old," said Walters.

"A convenience store and doing what I do for a living and trying to marry the two?" said Haynes. "I couldn't resist."

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

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