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    Mastering the Daypart: Lunch Time

    C-stores are known for their roller hot dogs and heated pizza, but customers are looking for more when it comes to lunchtime. Now is the time to start thinking about broadening your lunch selection in order to get those extra mid-day profits. Here are some of the lunch items and trends you may not be aware of, and how you can start to implement them in your store.

    Must-Have Ready-to-Eat Options
    Lunch-time is all about taking a moment to stop and eat something to help energize you throughout the day. Many customers will be coming into c-stores in order to purchase options that are quick and satisfying. Consider stocking some of the most commonly reached for items that your customers will love.

    Pre-made Salads; salads can be prepared in-house or outsourced from different companies who create their own ready-made salad options. Earthbound Farms is one of many companies that create delicious filling salads that come with a hearty protein and nutrition info right on the front. This helps customers looking for something lighter know exactly what they are consuming. This is also great for c-stores since it keeps customers from having to search through lengthy nutrition information to figure out their best options. Sandwiches; whether these are semi-made with a pre-selected meat and cheese or a part of a make your own.

    Sandwiches; whether these are semi-made with a pre-selected meat and cheese or a part of a make your own sandwich bar, customers often reach for this filling choice. Make your sandwiches even more delicious with available to-go condiment packs like mayonnaise, mustard, and even different dressings. This can easily take your sandwich options to the next level.

    Frozen Meals; these are becoming more and more popular with customers who have access to microwaves at work. Frozen options can range from burritos to fully made meals like chicken and rice. These options also do not have to be unhealthy. Companies like Evol have shifted customer perspective on frozen dining. Their chicken and rice dish is said to be, "light but still satisfying with flavorful sauce and abundance of snap peas, carrots, and broccoli". With only 250 calories and selling for $5, a package health-conscious customers will be reaching for this healthier option to fill them up.

    Don't Throw Away Your Heated Items Just Yet

    Although some customers may be leaning towards healthier and unique items many shoppers are still wanting the traditional items that c-stores offer. Here are some ways that you can spice up your current offerings in order to keep your shoppers happy.

    Offer breakfast for lunch options. 

    In the mornings you are most likely offering pre-heated breakfast sandwiches and burritos. Consider offering these at lunch too for those customers who have gotten a late start on their day and are still wanting that morning treat.

    Mix up the flavors and meats.

    Instead of just having hot dogs try new types of meats that could also be eaten hot-dog style. These could include Italian sausages with grilled onions, buffalo chicken sausages, and even bratwurst. This way you are still taking advantage of your grillers and you are giving your customers variety they have not had before.

    Add in the delciious extras.

    In addition to hot dogs try adding hamburgers or wings to your preheated menu. Chicken grillers and a variety of pizza flavors can also be great items to consider trying. You can start with classics like cheese and pepperoni then expand with different toppings and crust styles. These are items that are easy to order and incredibly easy to heat up on your grills.

    A Beverage Trend You Need for Lunch: Bubbles

    When it comes to lunch you cannot enjoy your meal without a delicious beverage pairing. Recently customers are wanting a bubbly assortment to choose from. Items like flavored sparkling water, new energy drinks, and carbonated sodas are quickly becoming crowd favorites. You can expand on this category by offering all natural sodas that have no fake sugars or adding new brands of carbonated waters such as LaCroix or Perrier. Even adult beverages like craft beers, ciders, and hard sodas are bubbly options that customers are reaching for to go with their midday meal.

    Overall, c-stores have the ablity to offer amazing foodservice options to customers during lunch. This daypart can be conquered by offering variety and quality. Shoppers want more choices and the ability to choose healthier options when they are available. As an owner you should be thinking about what options will compliment your current selection and how you can start improving sales for this daypart.