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A Bite of the Big Apple


In the past, the “convenience” business was all about helping consumers maximize their time. Today, it is about both maximizing their time and maximizing their experience.

A group of leading convenience store foodservice retailers got the opportunity to literally take a bite out of the Big Apple and find inspiration by visiting unique food concepts throughout New York City during the 2016 Convenience Store News Foodservice Summit, held March 15–16 in partnership with Tyson Convenience.

Guided by Chef Mario Valdovinos, Tyson Foods’ director of culinary innovations and corporate executive chef, and trends expert Mikel Cirkus, global director of conceptual design for Firmenich’s flavors division, the Taste of Manhattan Tour featured stops at four New York food destinations.

Each spot highlighted different of-the-moment trends — local, authentic, artisan, farm to table, socially responsible, digitally connected, etc. — meant to inspire the c-store foodservice executives to rethink their foodservice programs and how they could go back and use the ideas seen to elevate their own offer.

The four destinations on the tour included:


This chain sprouted from a hot dog cart in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park and now has 80-plus locations. Foodservice Summit attendees got a taste of the chain’s best-selling ShackBurger and the new Chick’n Shack fried chicken sandwich, plus some shakes to wash it all down. “They’re taking back the basics and elevating them,” observed Valdovinos.


This large, modern food court encompasses a variety of popular fast-casual eateries — 14 in total. Foodservice Summit attendees sampled a Cambodian-influenced sandwich from Num Pang; carnitas tacos and guacamole from Dos Toros; and farm-fresh sides from Dig Inn. “Lots of cultures come through this area,” Cirkus told the group.


This flagship store on Wall Street features expanded fresh food and grocery offerings. Immediately upon entering, the c-store retailers observed the prominent positioning of the store’s “upmarket” section that includes a juice bar, chef-prepared sushi stations, grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, pastries and more.


The world’s largest train terminal sees more than 700,000 people travel through each day and at least 10,000 of them dine while there. There are 35 options to suit every palette. “This is a fascinating place to see innovative foods for people going from Point A to Point B,” Valdovinos remarked.


Following the Taste of Manhattan Tour, the c-store retailers were also treated to a one-of-a-kind dinner experience at Eataly with founder and acclaimed restauranteur Joe Bastianich. Along with partners Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali, they own 30 successful restaurants worldwide.

Eataly is billed as the world’s largest artisanal food and wine market. Since opening its debut location in New York in 2010, a second Eataly followed in Chicago. While at Eataly, the c-store foodservice execs got a personal tour from Bastianich, including an olive oil tasting.

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