By Christine Blank, SeafoodSource contributing editor
Published on 01 July, 2013
Customers who walk into the Coco Cove convenience store in Honolulu immediately notice that this is a store unlike any traditional c-store they have seen. Fresh foods — from made-to-order sandwiches to a full-service sushi station — are prolific in the small store.
In addition to 15 different varieties of sushi, the Coco Cove store also features salmon cakes, seared salmon and bento boxes with seafood, all prepared fresh daily. Coco Cove, a brand of the Sullivan Family of Companies that operates the Foodland grocery chain and other retail formats, is mimicking a growing national trend. More convenience stores are now offering a full fresh ready-to-eat meals program — including healthier items like salads and seafood — and are giving restaurants and retailers a run for their money.
“There are huge changes happening right now. Whether it is 7-Eleven or Flying J, the companies that are at the forefront are turning gas stations into mini restaurants,” said Keoni Chang, executive chef for the Honolulu-based Sullivan Family of Cos. Sullivan’s smaller format stores, which include Coco Cove, Accents and Whalers General Store, are snaring customers from grocery stores, quick-service restaurants and hotels.
“A hotel guest that has to pay USD 15 (EUR 11.51) for a sandwich or double digits for sushi knows they can get equal to better quality at a fraction of the cost,” Chang said.