Trends in Convenience Retailing Favor Stores Geared toward Packaged, To-Go Foods, Advise Experts in C-Store Architecture, Engineering and Design

BOSTON and NEW YORK, March 8, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Marketplace trends are creating stronger incentives for convenience retailers to embrace store designs geared toward the sale of sandwiches, wraps, salads and other packaged, to-go foods, advise executives from HFA Architecture and Engineering and Bona Design Lab in an online opinion piece for Convenience Store News

Today’s employment and supply-chain shortages, along with the increasing availability of ghost kitchens, stand to affect c-store design, architecture and infrastructure, write HFA’s James Owens, a Boston-based architect with two decades of experience in c-store, retail and other sectors, and Joseph Bona, a veteran c-store designer and Principal of New York-based Bona Design Lab.

That could translate into c-stores that more closely resemble those of Pret-A-Manger, with its coolers full of high-quality, prepared foods, compared to Chipotle Mexican Grill, where meals are assembled on the spot by employees at the foodservice bar.

"Packaged goods involve less preparation, waste and cleanup, and are easily scannable for self-checkout. That means they require far less labor—an important advantage today," they explain in the Feb. 25 piece ("Is Pret A Manger the New Model for C-store Foodservice Programs?"). "Packaged goods also take up less space than the kinds of make-it-yourself foodservice bars that have become more commonplace in the industry."

The column is based on a chapter in the 2021 HFA/Bona Design Lab whitepaper, "Reimagining Sites & Stores: Perspectives on the Future of Convenience Retail." The two firms announced a strategic alliance on Sept. 9.

But while today’s trends favor to-go SKUs, Owens and Bona draw an important distinction between traditional c-stores and larger-scale, newly built convenience retail outlets, which are designed to meet the greater space requirements of QSR-like operations. "While the likes of open-kitchen designs for cuisine prepared onsite can dramatically convey the seriousness of the offer, they are not for everybody," they explain. "The reality is that most c-stores continue to be legacy locations with their smaller, traditional footprints."

Given these considerations, c-stores should:

  • Make sure their elevated offerings are highly appealing in taste, novelty and ingredient quality;
  • Revisit their distribution models to maximize the use of ghost kitchens; and
  • Adopt creative and efficient approaches to site and store design to further enhance the offering.

"This could mean working with a third-party consultant to better celebrate displays of these new SKUs through location, lighting, signage, color palettes and more," they conclude.

The full column is available at:

The full whitepaper is freely available at:

Media Contacts: At Jaffe Communications: Elisa Krantz,
, (908) 789-0700, or Bill Parness,
, (732) 673-6852.

Note to Media: James Owens and Joseph Bona are available as resources for your articles on convenience store foodservice, architecture, engineering and design. Contact Jaffe Communications to arrange interviews.

SOURCE HFA & Bona Design Lab