Embracing the New World at Sixth-Annual Convenience Foodservice Exchange

Featured speaker John Matthews will address the safety, transactional, marketing, foodservice and store design concerns of c-stores in the new normal.
John Matthews
John Matthews

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In the "new normal," convenience store operators will take safety concerns to a whole new level to assure customers that their stores are a safe environment. In addition, retailers will over-communicate their safety practices to consumers, and their employees will have to remain flexible and accepting of new training to address the new norm.

These are just a few of the insights from John Matthews, president and CEO of Gray Cat Enterprises, and featured speaker at this year's Convenience Store News Convenience Foodservice Exchange event, being held Nov. 9-10 at The Westin Charlotte.

"Do I need a mask or not? Can I pay with cash any longer? Are there any new options for me as a customer, like delivery? Communication of these changes has never been more important," said Matthews, who also will discuss the convenience channel's twin problems of the labor shortage and supply chain disruption.

"Every industry is struggling with attracting employees and minimizing disruptions in the supply chain. Industries far bigger than the c-store industry, such as new automobiles sitting on a lot waiting for a computer chip, are struggling in these areas," he said. "Adaptation is going to be the key for c-stores. Streamlining workflows to optimize what labor they do have on hand to keep the store running, for example. Inviting more vendors to the table to ensure that when one vendor is short on supply, another can fill the gap, is a necessary strategic play."

The world has forever changed, according to Matthews. However, he believes convenience foodservice is here to stay and will continue to accelerate, with roughly 15 percent of all restaurants going by the wayside during the pandemic.

"The longer-term foodservice play is still the road to the promised land," he noted. 

The theme of this year's Convenience Foodservice Exchange is "Solving the Post-Pandemic Riddle: How Convenience Foodservice Needs to Adapt." Foodservice operations were one of the hardest-hit areas of the store as the nation reeled from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic is likely to have a lasting impact on American consumers' tastes and desires, in how they shop, and in their expectations and comfort level for purchasing food at convenience stores. In short, everything has changed for the nation's convenience foodservice retailers.

The sixth-annual Convenience Foodservice Exchange will explore the ways retailers are reviving their foodservice sales in the new normal. The agenda will tackle such key issues as:

  • Optimizing Opportunities in a Challenging Labor Environment: Business Accelerator Team founding partner Kay Segal will moderate a retailer panel discussing real-life logistical challenges in today's market. Featured panelists will include Chris Postlewaite, director of foodservice, Minuteman Food Mart; Ben Lucky, category manager, foodservice, Dash In; and Ed Burcher, Business Accelerator Team.
  • Why C-store Foodservice Will Have a Record Year: Joyce Baird from FoodserviceIP will present the firm's comprehensive intelligence on c-store foodservice and discuss how retailers and suppliers will revise their go-to-market plans over the next two years.
  • Curbside 2.0 — Lead or Get Left in the Dust: King-Casey principal Tom Cook will focus on the state of curbside in the convenience channel, the issues and barriers to entry, and what c-stores must do to be successful with curbside to stay ahead of their convenience store and restaurant competitors. 
  • Food Safety Protocol for Non-Restaurant Operators, Staff and Vendors: A Johnson & Wales professor will discuss the latest techniques and programs for ensuring food safety.
  • The Hottest Foodservice Trends: Participate in an interactive discussion as a Johnson & Wales professor helps identify real food trends plant-based foods, sustainability, ghost kitchens, takeout, delivery and more — that have staying power and are appropriate for the convenience channel. 
  • The New Convenience Retailer: A panel of retailer executives will show off and discuss their newest food-forward stores and programs aimed at meeting the needs of the evolving consumer. Featured panelists will include Ryan Krebs, foodservice director, Enmarket; and Heather Davis, foodservice director, Parker's Convenience.

As in previous years, the 2021 program will also include the presentation of CSNews' annual Foodservice Leadership Awards and one-on-one business development meetings among attendees. This year's award winners are:

  • Foodservice Innovator of the Year: Rutter's
  • Prepared Foods Innovator of the Year: The Spinx Co. 
  • Hot Beverages Innovator of the Year: Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./Circle K
  • Cold & Frozen Beverages Innovator of the Year: 7-Eleven Inc. 
  • Foodservice Innovator to Watch: Family Express Corp. 

In addition, this year's Convenience Foodservice Exchange will feature a guided food and retail tour exploring Charlotte's most delicious and innovative restaurants, food shops and markets. Led by Taste Carolina, guides will introduce attendees to the history and architecture of this beautiful city, too.

Retailers may register at For more information, retailers should contact CSNews Editorial Director Don Longo at [email protected].

Sponsorships are also available for this exclusive, exciting event. For more information on sponsorships, contact CSNews Brand Director Paula Lashinsky at [email protected] or (917) 446-4117.