NAFEM Show 2019 Features Solutions to Boost Foodservice at C-stores

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NAFEM Show 2019 Features Solutions to Boost Foodservice at C-stores

By Don Longo - 02/14/2019
Fresh Blender by Multiplex, a Welbilt Co.
Fresh Blender by Multiplex, a Welbilt Co.

ORLANDO, Fla. — With foodservice now an established and still-growing product category at convenience stores nationwide, foodservice equipment suppliers are addressing the channel more aggressively with new preparation, cooking and beverage dispensing options that deliver greater flexibility, speed and other enhancements over standard kitchen equipment.

This was on display at the 2019 NAFEM Show, conducted by the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers, held last week at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

The increase in convenience store solutions was particularly illustrated at this year's "What's Hot! What's Cool! What Works!" pavilions on the show floor.

Among the featured exhibits was Fresh Blender by Multiplex, a Welbilt Co. Created for a Midwest c-store chain that needed an appliance that could serve freshly blended iced drinks without the oversight of an employee and in a small footprint, the Fresh Blender was first developed and tested in the chain’s headquarters and then installed at 29 stores. The self-serve beverage dispenser was a hit with the chain's customers and achieved full return on investment in less than eight months.

Another c-store success story spotlighted was Pak-a-Sak's implementation of the Horizon Elite 2110 Series Ice Machine by Follett. To solve the problem of harsh local water conditions, which required the 22-store chain to descale its ice machines every six weeks, the retailer tested this high-capacity ice maker that dramatically reduced scale buildup with a fraction of the water usage of a comparable cube ice machine. Pak-a-Sak was able to go a full 18 months with no descaling, saving $1,200 in annual maintenance costs.

Here's a look at some other solutions that foodservice equipment manufacturers were showcasing at the 2019 NAFEM Show that cater to the convenience store industry:

Antunes

New this year at Antunes was a mini egg station that allows operators to flexibly serve fresh, made-to-order eggs for all dayparts with a small footprint and no vent. Egg Station Mini makes it easy to prepare perfectly cooked eggs, omelets and scrambles in two minutes, while saving valuable grill space. 

Using a combination of heat from the grill and steam, the unit cooks the eggs while the nonstick rings give the product its shape. Steam is created under the pivoting cover that is lowered over the rings. As water is poured into the trough on the cover, it drips down onto the plate, which produces steam to keep the eggs moist as they cook. Cooking time is approximately 120 seconds for room-temperature eggs and 150 seconds for refrigerated eggs.

"Steaming is becoming the preferred choice over microwave now," said Sue Pucchini of Antunes.

Curtis

The Wilbur Curtis Co., noted for its coffee and tea brewing equipment, said it introduced more new products in 2018 than in any other year in its 75-year history.

Among the new items being shown this year to c-store retailers were the Curtis Nitro Infuser for making consistent and delicious nitrogen-infused cold brew coffee, and the Chill-X Frozen Beverage Machine, perfect for slushies and frozen dairy beverages.

Fetco

"Tea is a big trend in beverages right now," noted Fetco Marketing Vice President Krista Reddington.

Fetco's new Twin 3.5-Gallon Tea Brewer combines the simplicity of a touchscreen with new features such as the innovative "intelligent brew basket" for quick, efficient operation and producing flavorful taste profiles. With the twin brewers, one side could be used for brewing iced tea and the other side for a variety of beverages, such as cold brew tea or cold brew coffee.

Franke

Franke's A800 allows c-store operators to launch a successful fresh brew coffee program. The A800 produces barista-quality coffee with each cup brewed to order, but with less waste and labor. With the ability to use three different bean types, every customer gets a custom coffee. The elevated user experience means it takes just a touch of a finger to brew the perfect cup of coffee.

Already in use at Indiana-based Family Express, the A800 results in less waste with brew-on-demand and gram-throw flexibility. It also sports a reduced footprint that optimizes counter space in the store, and the machine features an intuitive 10.4-inch touchscreen that can be programmed to deliver marketing and promotional messages.

"The A800 Fresh Brew allowed our company to decrease product waste by 30 percent," said one foodservice director at a leading c-store chain. "We love that we’re saving money, and our customers love tasting our fresh coffee."

Hatco

Available in stainless steel or optional designer black, Hatco's Intelligent Heated Display Cabinet regulates air temperature and simultaneously balances humidity to provide the best environment for holding pizza or other c-store food options.  

Robin Alfano, director of advertising for Hatco, pointed out that the shelves are totally adjustable, perfect for effectively showing off hot pizza and other warm food products.

Alfano also showed Convenience Store News Hatco's redesigned TQ3-10 Toast-Qwik Conveyor Toaster. This toaster uses a patented sensing system to monitor and adjust conveyor speed for consistent results, even during peak use periods.

Masterbilt

Masterbilt displayed a broad line of merchandisers, walk-in coolers and freezers, refrigeration systems, reach-ins, prep tables and ice cream cabinets. For c-stores, one interesting new item was an upgraded dipping display merchandiser that is more operator friendly, with a reduced back to make reaching in easier for employees.

Ovention

Ovention Marketing Leader Jordan Robinson-Delaney pointed out that the company's new MiLo colored, manual load ovens are perfect for assembly-line concepts like at Chipotle and they cater to operators in need of a small-footprint oven.

Ovention was also showing an under-the-counter version of its popular ventless shuttle oven, a great space saver for c-stores where space in so scarce.

Restaurant Technologies

Restaurant Technologies' automated frying oil storage, handling, filtration monitoring and disposal management system alleviates the risk of employees touching hot oil. Its newest technology, AutoMist, mitigates the risk of catastrophic fire by automatically cleaning hoods, flues and fans daily through a spray mixture of detergent and water.

AutoMist eliminates the hazardous buildup of grease in foodservice kitchens and keeps hoods, flues, and fans clean. The company added approximately 1,500 new grocery and c-store customers for its AutoMist oil system in 2018, according to Marketing Manager Whitney Murphy.

Schaerer

Schaerer's bean-to-cup solution is "working out very well at several major c-stores," said Emily DeLong, director of marketing. The Schaerer Coffee Art C provides fresh hot and iced coffee on demand at the push of a button. Other benefits include: real iced coffee without sacrificing taste (no melting of ice or dilution); consistent brew cycles and product ground straight from the bean for unsurpassed freshness, aroma and taste; and faster than a traditional drip brewer without recovery time.

The Schaerer Coffee Art C also results in less waste because there's no need to hold coffee anymore and less labor because it avoids the handling and maintenance required of drip coffee makers.

Taylor

The "c-store business is booming," said Vickie Sims, global brand marketing director at Taylor.

Among several new products, the company was showing c-store retailers its new Model 708-SHAKE heat treatment shake freezer. This countertop, shake-only version of its popular soft-serve freezer allows customers to draw their own shakes, doing away with labor-intensive and time-consuming methods of blending hand-dipped ice cream.

Tortilla Masters Equipment

The continued growth of Hispanic food makes the Ventura Flex Tabletop Corn Tortilla Machine a hot item. This new piece of equipment drastically reduces both tortilla prep time and employee stress, in a small footprint. It can handle daily demand for more than 1,000 corn tortillas.

TurboCheF

On trend with brightly colored ovens ("Ferrari colors"), TurboChef also highlighted the small footprint of its ventless rapid cook ovens, ventless high-speed conveyors and ventless high-speed impingement ovens.

"We are seeing rapid growth in the c-store business," said company rep Kerry Chace.

Vitamix

A familiar workhorse at the Vitamix booth was "The Quiet One," a powerful, premium blender with exceptional noise-reducing qualities. Created for coffee shops, smoothie shops and high-end bars, this mixer is also perfect for c-stores contemplating a barista-style coffee/smoothie blended drink bar.

For more serious cooking and prep uses, the new Vita-Prep 3 can handle a wide variety of dishes with sturdy, intuitive controls, an improved motor and a bold, new look. "Sixty percent of chefs use Vitamix products," noted Scott Tennant, as he extolled the versatility and durability of the new product.