Saturday, December 15, 2007

Souper Chef

The promotions that occur out of sight – in different regions of the country or other parts of the world – sometimes come into view thanks to relatives. This morning, Alison Bond (friend of Rachel Baron) is participating in the Quick Chek “Souper Chef” finals at the company’s South Plainfield, NJ store.

Quick Chek is a family-owned and -operated chain of 110 retail food store locations that operates mainly in the northern part of the state. Founder Carlton C Durling started it in the 1960s as an outlet for the milk from his dairy business.

That’s one way to begin a convenience-store operation – especially since Quick Chek didn’t start putting in “fueling islands” (that’s gasoline pumps to you) ‘til 2000. In 2006, the overall growth of the C-store industry was 15%. But that same year showed a 23.5% drop in profits, because of shrinking margins on gasoline and higher credit card costs (also associated with gas sales). So [a] Quick Chek’s slow movement toward adding pumps is probably a good thing for its profitability; and [b] its concentration on fresh food is critical to maintaining strong customer relationships.

Unlike the Stripes chain I blogged about in September, Quick Chek promotions seem to be more tightly tied to its products. The winter promotion is based on its fresh soups. It’s been well-advertised in the North Jersey, but there’s nothing about it on the company website. I’d say Quick Chek missed a bet, but not by much given the participation reported by our own team: Alison (chef) and Rachel (supporter).

In her “Food for Thought” blog, Angela Wyatt already noted: If you think you have a soup recipe that’s worth prizes valued up to $750, share it with Quick Chek. Starting today through Dec. 5, Quick Chek customers will have the chance to put their culinary skills to the test by submitting an original recipe that incorporates one of Quick Chek’s 14 fall menu soups as an ingredient to the company's first ever Quick Chek Souper Chef Cooking Contest.

Unfortunately, I have to report that Alison’s recipe, using the chain’s Roasted Tomato & Garlic soup as a basis for a risotto, did not bear away the bell. As a runner-up, Alison received a $50 Quick Chek gift certificate.

But she got chosen as a semi-finalist (out of 65 entrants in the month-long promo period) and had the chance to prepare her “Roasted Tomato and Spinach Risotto” to compete against four other contestants and their recipes on site. The event was previewed in today’s Bridgewater, NJ, Courier-News.

A soup-powered promo for a C-store makes a nice change from the ordinary gas and credit card activities. Quick Chek’s PR people ought to be able to get some winter-time mileage out of this

I also hope Alison will share her recipe with Signalwriter’s readers. More of this anon.

No comments: