Skip to main content

Best CFX Ever

Retailers are the reason the Convenience Foodservice Exchange shines every year.
Logo for the Convenience Foodservice Exchange

In May, I had the honor of emceeing the 2023 Convenience Foodservice Exchange (CFX) for the fifth time. From Casey's Chief Marketing Officer Tom Brennan's opening address on how a giant chain turned foodservice into a focal point of its operations to BandyWorks CEO Tom Bandy's closing presentation aimed at helping small- to medium-sized retailers excel at foodservice, this year's event in Nashville, Tenn., was the best yet. It was great to see so many familiar and new faces of convenience store industry leaders.

CFX features such variety — keynote presentations, panel discussions, a fireside chat, one-on-one networking, a visit to a new c-store prototype, a local food trends tour and the Convenience Store News Foodservice Innovators Awards reception. It's so much more than a typical business conference.

[Read more: PHOTO GALLERY: 2023 Foodservice Innovators Awards Winners Celebrated]

Casey's General Stores Inc. was the 2022 winner of the Foodservice Innovator of the Year award. Brennan's keynote explained the step-by-step approach Casey's takes to innovation, especially in making foodservice its centerpiece.

Another speaker was Kevin Smartt, CEO of Texas Born (TXB). He rebranded the 52-store chain a few years ago from its former name, Kwik Chek Food Stores. The rebrand emphasizes the Texan roots and values the brand was built upon: authenticity, hospitality and integrity. These are all represented in the food it sells. TXB was the 2022 winner in the prepared foods category of the Foodservice Innovators Awards program.

My favorite sessions every year are our retailer panels. We had a lineup of some of the most visionary convenience foodservice retailers on hand. Billy Colemire of Stinker Stores, Jac Moskalik of Kum & Go (the 2023 Foodservice Innovator of the Year) and Greg Ekman of BP/Thorntons told the audience about how they make their foodservice offerings stand out from the competition.

I moderated our annual New American Convenience Retailer panel featuring three retailers that are redefining the c-store shopping experience. The panel featured Tony Sparks of 2023 Foodservice Innovator to Watch winner, Curby's Express Market; Mike Fogarty of 2019 Foodservice Innovator to Watch, Choice Market; and Ben Lucky of 2023 Prepared Foods Innovator of the Year, Dash In. This panel always showcases some of the most innovative ideas in the industry.

If you find yourself near Baltimore or Washington, D.C., I highly recommend you visit Dash In's new foodservice-forward store in Chantilly, Va. I was so impressed when Ben showed me around last month and I got to try his trademarked Stackadilla quesadilla menu item.

My fireside chat with Kwik Trip Inc. (KT) Retail Foodservice Director Paul Servais was most interesting. Paul talked about how KT built a strong foodservice culture throughout its chain of more than 800 stores. Among the many key points he made was the critical role of KT's foodservice district leaders, who were instrumental in the chain reaching $1.2 billion in food sales last year. It's such an important position that only store leaders who have opened new stores and trained other store leaders can become foodservice district leaders, and only foodservice district leaders can become district leaders. What a great nugget of information.

Retailers like Paul, Tom, Ben, Kevin and so many of the other speakers and attendees are the reason why CFX continues to be the best foodservice event for convenience store retailers.

More Blog Posts in This Series

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds