Leading Spar retailer Baz Jethwa has launched an out-of-this-world in-store diner concept with plans to offer it to other convenience store owners.

Rocket Eats launched in Spar Rocket stores in Bolton earlier this week, developed in partnership between Jethwa, head chef Richard Barrett and restaurant start-up consultant Daniel Furness.

Speaking before liftoff last week, the store owner told betterRetailing: “I’ve always had a dream to create this myself, to do something in hospitality.

“Adding it into the store was the right opportunity to do it, especially with lockdown making standalone offerings unfeasible at the moment.

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“We know food to go in convenience doesn’t have to be basic, but so many of the concepts out there are just basic brands, frozen food and no standout.”

A space theme throughout creates a new take on the US diner concept with green, red and even black burgers, shakes, fries, pizzas and more. “We worked hard to source all the different ingredients – everything is natural, everything is farm to store, fresh and delivered when we need it.

“For instance, the colour in the green buns is from spinach, the red is from beetroot and the black from squid ink,” he said.

Jethwa added he hopes to make the concept available to other convenience operators on a franchise model. “Our goal is to franchise it out to other store owners, but it has to be good operators. The size doesn’t matter, but they’ll need to prove they can maintain the brand standards,” he said.

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The goods can be ordered by takeaway, click & collect and delivered options through Uber Eats and Deliveroo, with in-store dining planned once lockdown restrictions lift.

Asked why the diner is a good fit for within convenience stores, the retailer responded: “The best thing about adding it to a store is the flexibility and low risk, and that’s why there’s potential in franchising it out to other convenience store operators.

“There are fewer overheads like rent and rates, and even though it needs dedicated and trained staff, these can be put on store shifts as well if needed.

“Everything is made to order, so there’s a five-to- 10-minute wait. We see this as browsing time for top-up and impulse shopping.”

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