Aramark takes a bite of the bakery-cafe pie

Aramark takes a bite of the bakery-cafe pie

PHILADELPHIA —With bakery-cafe concepts ranking among the sales growth leaders of the industry’s commercial sector, contract foodservice players are seizing opportunities to cash in on the lack of such operations at institutional venues and are developing their own proprietary brands.

Among those competing in the noncommercial arena for a slice of the bakery-cafe field’s lucrative market share is Aramark Corp. [3], which has begun rolling out branches of its proprietary Bleecker Street Cafe, an urban-style concept geared toward college students seeking fast-casual options. The company also has devised Soluna Cafe as a bakery-cafe vehicle for health care venues. —With bakery-cafe concepts ranking among the sales growth leaders of the industry’s commercial sector, contract foodservice players are seizing opportunities to cash in on the lack of such operations at institutional venues and are developing their own proprietary brands.

“Within the current [portfolio of] offerings on college campuses, there aren’t a lot of bakery-cafe brands,” said Oscar Budejen, vice president of marketing for Aramark’s Dining Solutions division, which developed Bleecker Street for deployment on medium- to large-size campuses across the country. “We wanted to be able to offer [a concept that college customers] feel is most relevant to them, so we developed one in-house.” —With bakery-cafe concepts ranking among the sales growth leaders of the industry’s commercial sector, contract foodservice players are seizing opportunities to cash in on the lack of such operations at institutional venues and are developing their own proprietary brands.

Karen Parker, Aramark’s national director of marketing for higher education, said the wide acceptance that bakery-cafes have enjoyed inspired her company to develop its own concept for college campuses. After surveying a cross-section of 456 college students, faculty members and staff, Aramark tested five bakery-cafe formats before finding that Bleecker Street Cafe was the clear winner. —With bakery-cafe concepts ranking among the sales growth leaders of the industry’s commercial sector, contract foodservice players are seizing opportunities to cash in on the lack of such operations at institutional venues and are developing their own proprietary brands.

“We offer a number of fast-casual retail proprietary brands on our college campuses, but what we did not have was a comprehensive solution to the bakery-cafe brand, particularly one geared toward the Gen Y group,” she said. “And from a trends standpoint, at mealtimes, particularly during lunch, the sandwich ranks No. 1 in the category.” —With bakery-cafe concepts ranking among the sales growth leaders of the industry’s commercial sector, contract foodservice players are seizing opportunities to cash in on the lack of such operations at institutional venues and are developing their own proprietary brands.

Budejen said Bleecker Street’s menu was designed to offer fresh-baked artisanal breads, pastries and baked goods as well as made-to-order signature sandwiches, paninis, soups and salads. The cafes boast a New York City-loftlike decor featuring high-backed, circular booths. —With bakery-cafe concepts ranking among the sales growth leaders of the industry’s commercial sector, contract foodservice players are seizing opportunities to cash in on the lack of such operations at institutional venues and are developing their own proprietary brands.

Fresh-baked pastries are $1.50 to $2 while made-to-order salads are $4 to $6 and gourmet sandwiches are $5 to $6. Signature dishes include the Mandarin Cranberry Crunch Salad with mixed greens, Mandarin oranges, red onions, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries in raspberry vinaigrette, $4.39; and a tarragon-seasoned roast beef sandwich on wheatberry bread with leaf lettuce, plum tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers and an herbed cream sauce, $4.99. —With bakery-cafe concepts ranking among the sales growth leaders of the industry’s commercial sector, contract foodservice players are seizing opportunities to cash in on the lack of such operations at institutional venues and are developing their own proprietary brands.

The company tested the concept late last year at several campus accounts, including East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C.; the University of Delaware in Newark, Del.; and the University of Southern Maine in Portland, Maine. The first rollout of 2007 is scheduled to take place during the second quarter, at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. That unit is still in the design stages. —With bakery-cafe concepts ranking among the sales growth leaders of the industry’s commercial sector, contract foodservice players are seizing opportunities to cash in on the lack of such operations at institutional venues and are developing their own proprietary brands.

The multibillion-dollar Aramark organization provides foodservice at approximately 280 college campuses in North America. —With bakery-cafe concepts ranking among the sales growth leaders of the industry’s commercial sector, contract foodservice players are seizing opportunities to cash in on the lack of such operations at institutional venues and are developing their own proprietary brands.

The company’s new bakery-cafe concept comes in two different formats, one sized to fit inside a food court and the other a 1,000-square-foot, sit-down platform with Wi-Fi access. Based on data that Aramark already has gathered, the brand appears to work best on larger college campuses, particularly when situated in a central location, Parker said. —With bakery-cafe concepts ranking among the sales growth leaders of the industry’s commercial sector, contract foodservice players are seizing opportunities to cash in on the lack of such operations at institutional venues and are developing their own proprietary brands.

“Generally we’re finding that Bleecker Street fits best in public universities with populations of more than 5,000 people,” she said. —With bakery-cafe concepts ranking among the sales growth leaders of the industry’s commercial sector, contract foodservice players are seizing opportunities to cash in on the lack of such operations at institutional venues and are developing their own proprietary brands.

John Cornyn, co-founder of Portland, Ore.-based foodservice consulting firm the Cornyn-Fasano Group, said Aramark’s decision to roll out a bakery-cafe concept for college campuses is a smart one, reflective of current desires expressed by college students today. —With bakery-cafe concepts ranking among the sales growth leaders of the industry’s commercial sector, contract foodservice players are seizing opportunities to cash in on the lack of such operations at institutional venues and are developing their own proprietary brands.

“It has become very evident that college students are very much interested in the fast-casual bakery-cafe theme,” he said. “Aramark is following the trend we’re certainly seeing at all contract management companies now. Over the course of time, they’ve had to develop their own concepts to compete with retail brands. A good example of this is Sodexho [4]’s Jazzman’s Cafe and Compass Group’s Cafe Ritazza. It’s a natural evolution—variations on a theme—of what they’re all doing.” —With bakery-cafe concepts ranking among the sales growth leaders of the industry’s commercial sector, contract foodservice players are seizing opportunities to cash in on the lack of such operations at institutional venues and are developing their own proprietary brands.

Compass Group, which retained a 25-percent ownership stake in the Woburn, Mass.-based 255-unit Au Bon Pain [5] bakery-cafe chain following a management-led buyout in 2005,also indicated that it too plans to capitalize on the college market by accelerating unit growth on university campuses. Au Bon Pain last year reported foodservice sales of about $300 million worldwide and a same-store sales increase of approximately 8.7 percent. —With bakery-cafe concepts ranking among the sales growth leaders of the industry’s commercial sector, contract foodservice players are seizing opportunities to cash in on the lack of such operations at institutional venues and are developing their own proprietary brands.

Bakery-cafe segment leader Panera Bread [6], based in Richmond Heights, Mo., in 2005 recorded systemwide sales of nearly $1.51 billion, up a whopping 29.7 percent for the year. —With bakery-cafe concepts ranking among the sales growth leaders of the industry’s commercial sector, contract foodservice players are seizing opportunities to cash in on the lack of such operations at institutional venues and are developing their own proprietary brands.

In addition to the financial prospects bakery-cafes may represent for on-site feeders, consultant Cornyn said another reason for contractors to create proprietary brands is to eliminate having to pay an already established retail chain sales royalties or marketing fees to operate its concept on a campus or other on-site venue. —With bakery-cafe concepts ranking among the sales growth leaders of the industry’s commercial sector, contract foodservice players are seizing opportunities to cash in on the lack of such operations at institutional venues and are developing their own proprietary brands.

Aramark, which previously launched Soluna Cafe, a fast-casual bakery-cafe concept geared for employees and outpatients at hospitals and medical campuses, said it plans to debut more branded concepts at its various on-site accounts. —With bakery-cafe concepts ranking among the sales growth leaders of the industry’s commercial sector, contract foodservice players are seizing opportunities to cash in on the lack of such operations at institutional venues and are developing their own proprietary brands.

“Developing branded concept identities is the future,” marketing vice president Budejen said. —With bakery-cafe concepts ranking among the sales growth leaders of the industry’s commercial sector, contract foodservice players are seizing opportunities to cash in on the lack of such operations at institutional venues and are developing their own proprietary brands.