Grocerant Expert Q&A: Leana M. Salamah, National Restaurant Association

Foodservice@Retail: Grocerants gets the skinny on this month’s unique grocerant day at NRA Show, from NRA’s own Leana M. Salamah, Senior Director, Convention Marketing, Communications & Programming. 

Foodservice@Retail: Grocerants: Why are grocerants such a hot topic now? How can they help supermarkets and convenience stores succeed?
Leana Salamah, National Restaurant Association: For as long as we can all remember, families relied on their local retailer (grocery store or a c-store) for ingredients to feed their families. Time has become a more limited commodity, so the idea that those stores might supply fully created home meal replacements makes perfect sense.

FRG: Will NRA Show help us determine if grocerants are right for our formats and locations - and which themes to start with, given our particular retail strengths?
Salamah: NRA Show education is designed to provide an overview of best practices, of real-life experiences, and the wins and losses inherent in those real-life experiences. NRA helps by providing real-world insights and teachings from peers, rather than mere prescriptive advice.

FRG:  Will we find resources to pull it all together at NRA Show?
Salamah: Of course! Many issues grocerants are working through right now are areas that the traditional restaurant community has been tackling for years (such as food safety and inventory management/shrinkage). So there's a lot to be learned here from both traditional operators and peer grocerants. The latter are solving challenges specific to this retail space, such as developing a culinary culture in a traditionally non-culinary environment.

FRG:  Will speakers and other experts be accessible to us?
Salamah: You bet. NRA Show believes in peer-to-peer education and accessibility. Our brand new one-day Foodservice@Retail: Grocerants Conference includes off-site tours and networking at local Mariano's stores, plus a post-event networking reception. Our plan and expectation is that the group coming together at this Conference will connect with new peer-to-peer resources that benefit them way beyond May 23.

FRG: Will other retailers who are already succeeding with grocerants share insights and network with us?
Salamah:  Absolutely. Folks from both the supermarket and c-store communities will be on-hand - both as presenters and as fellow attendees, including Hans Kissle, Kwik Trip, Mariano's, Oasis Stop’N Go, RaceTrac, Sheetz, Wakefern/ShopRite, Wawa and more!

FRG: How does NRA Show differ from other events being offered in the marketplace?
Salamah: This is the original playground and learning environment for restaurant operators. For 97 years the foodservice industry has convened here to attack big challenges and capitalize on big opportunities. Here you will learn not only from others succeeding in the FS@R/Grocerant space, but also from other industry segments that might inspire you moving forward.

FRG: Where can we see details on your specific grocerant education sessions and how can we register?
Salamah: You can view the full agenda and register for the conference here

FRG:  Why is NRA truly steeped in what it takes to succeed in retail foodservice?
Salamah:  We are the original "food prepared away from home" community. Our charge is to advance the business of hospitality no matter the source, so if your goal is at-home meals served up with genuine hospitality, no one does it better. Grocerants in both the supermarket and c-store space are part of this community and should consider themselves at home here.

FRG: How do you see grocerants evolving as part of the supermarket/c-store portfolio?
Salamah:  Given time constraints on the modern family (of which I am a great example, with two small kids and a full-time job), the ability to shop for groceries and also pick up dinners or another meal for that same-day is huge. I've seen the forecast numbers, and both personally and empirically, I see this segment continuing to outpace others in growth and profitability.  So I am delighted to spearhead offerings to this group around education and networking to further their success.