3 Menu Trends That Could Go Mainstream in C-Stores

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CHICAGO -- Like basic laws of physics or the eerie way celebrities seem to die in groups of three, the manner in which food trends tend to trickle down from restaurants to convenience stores seemed to be one of the constant rules of the universe. However, as c-stores prioritize foodservice, it seems more and more retailers are throwing that tenet out the window.

To track common threads in food and beverage, Technomic examined more than 50 menus from independent restaurants across the United States, ranging from food trucks to fine-dining destinations.

Check out the items that could be making their way onto c-store menus, gathered from Technomic’s most recent Independent Insights report, powered by Ignite ...

1. Fried bologna

fried bologna

Bologna is hopping out of brown-bag lunches and onto restaurant and c-store menus. The deli meat is getting a new life as operations highlight its Southern and Appalachian roots. In 2015, York, Pa.-based Rutter’s Farm Stores added a locally sourced sweet bologna sandwich and fried-to-order sweet bologna bites to its menu. Guests can build their own bologna sandwich with a choice of eight cheeses and 10 breads. In 2017, the 65-unit chain added the fried sweet bologna bites to its grab-and-go offerings.

Similarly, at Tenn16 Food & Drink Co. in Nashville, a restaurant offering “Southern cuisine with a Cajun accent,” the menu lists a fried bologna sandwich with provolone, romaine, tomato, local bacon and mustard on sourdough.

2. Urfa

erfa pepper

Urfa could help awaken consumers’ taste buds as they begin to tire of spicy staples such as gochujang and the omnipresent Sriracha. A sun-dried Turkish chili pepper, Urfa has a complex flavor profile with hot, sweet, smoky and sour notes. Although not a c-store, Olio in St. Louis serves Mediterranean fare out of a remodeled service station. Operating out of a former Standard Oil-branded store, the concept serves smoked trout on toast with a red pepper-walnut spread and Urfa pepper flakes.

3. Lotus root

lotus root

Traditional in Chinese cuisine, lotus root is now finding its way into other formats. Chefs are creating dishes with the root, seeds, stem and flowers of the plant. The Asian vegetable is traditionally fried, but it also adapts well to boiling, braising and steaming. Oriental Food Mart in Madison, Wis., offers grab-and-go lotus root and seasoned seaweed to the busy college students that populate the city, according to Madison.com.