Guest Column - July 2009
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Food Service & Concessions:
Give Branded Food a Chance

During Hard Times, Consumers Look for Value and Familiarity

By Liz Smethurst

One positive reason for bringing in branded fast food is that it is quite often considered to be comfort food by a large segment of the population, including those who are part of your prime demographic target audience.

The appeal of a branded concept is that it comes with built-in name and product recognition, consumer loyalty, existing menus, recipes, operational systems, suppliers and advertising programs. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. Also, with rising costs just about everywhere, it's good to know that many favorite quick-service brands are seeing upticks in business while customers in general are cutting back from more indulgent purchases.

Some brands have made inroads into the park and recreational arena, and are expanding rapidly in non-traditional venues. In the restaurant industry, "non-traditional units" are those that are found in places other than mainstream shopping malls, strip centers or street-front locations. Non-traditional sites might include captive-audience situations, such as college campuses, hospitals, airports, convenience stores, highway rest stops and much more. For example, of the 30,000-plus Subway stores located around the world, 180 can be found inside park and recreational facilities, stadiums and arenas, health clubs and gyms, and other such venues. In fact, they can even be found at car dealers, pharmacies, laundromats—and even one inside a church!

Boasting some of the lowest startup costs of the food-service and franchise industries, these restaurants can fit just about anywhere due to minimal space and equipment requirements. Plus, an added benefit of the brand's business model is that an outlet can be custom-designed to fit into just about any space and be incorporated into a facility's current food-service operation. It can be run by the staff on hand, or space can be leased out to an established local franchisee who would handle all of the business details of the restaurant, essentially transforming you into a landlord. It all depends on how much time and effort you want to devote to your food-service operations.

There are many reasons why branded fast food is a natural fit for park and recreational facilities—keeping ahead of the competition, uniqueness, increased or implied value, healthy options, or boosting attendance and bottom line. But no matter which one resonates with you, a branded concept can be an integral part of your guest's overall experience.


Liz Smethurst is global account manager for SUBWAY New Business. For more information, visit