Pan Asian hot food and the Sushi Burrito



This edition we’re thrilled to tell you about two new Snowfox items creating a buzz in grocery deli, Pan Asian hot food and the Sushi Burrito. One is an initiative of our largest client and has required an all-hands-on-deck approach to develop it behind the scenes and in stores. The other follows an innovative culinary trend and, frankly, tastes pretty incredible. Their ultimate success may take time, but we’ll fill you in here on promising developments and how both can create long-term franchisee success.

Pan Asian and the Snowfox Sushi Burrito contribute to the same goal of attracting customers to the store and also contributing to our sushi sales with that traffic. We’re excited to see how each chef’s customers react and to continue the excitement Snowfox has always created!

Just when you thought we had packed every flavor we could into a sushi roll—for example, in our #9 Roll—we’ve developed the sushi burrito. Once we spotted this trend, we carefully researched everything from diner reactions online to the way food writers discussed it.


Sushi and the burrito, long associated with Mexican cuisine, are a natural pair. Both offer the culinary combination that seems to work in most countries: a starch, a protein, plus flavor accents ranging from salty to bitter to sweet. The burrito may be the first food most Americans picture when they think of grab-n-go. It’s also interesting that just like our Westernized version of the maki roll, according to most food writers, the burrito we know today was invented not in Mexico but in southern California!

Once we decided to excite customers with something new, we shared our idea with Kroger. Based on our presentation, they greenlighted launching it in our Kaysville, Utah, Smith’s store. We’ve now expanded to offering it in 10 stores in five regions.

Though at a price point higher than most of our menu, our sushi burrito is really packed with premium ingredients and will be a unique experience for customers who’ve never tried one. And we’re already seeing from their smiles that they’re responding to the flavors and grab-n-go portability; sushi burritos may also attract sushi beginners to the rest of our menu. By the time you read this, we will have sold over a thousand of them!

We also make our new Poke Rice Bowl at these locations, and we’re excited to see if customers love the flavor profile of the Poke sauce and the contrast of textures and colors as much as we do. Even though they’re trendy, we believe that, just like grab-n-go, these items are here to stay.

You know by now that it’s essential for grocery deli to stay competitive with area restaurants in attracting lunch and dinner traffic. Asian food is popular, but with the success of restaurants like Panda Express, we see what we’ve known for years in running our sushi bars: people want new and classic Asian flavors, reasonably fresh, with a human touch and a to-go option.

Having just opened our 30th hot food location, we’ve been fortunate to add our personal style to Kroger and their family of stores’ Pan Asian program. Though these aren’t designed to be groundbreaking recipes, each dish is a result of intensive work behind the scenes, where we considered taste, ingredient sourcing and cross-utilization, and customer experience.

Honestly, this operation can be labor intensive and sales sluggish depending on the market. However, there are two important considerations to remember.

The first is why it’s important to our client. Shopping trends indicate more and more customers are shopping online, even for groceries, and our clients are understandably concerned. While this trend is affecting center store (dry goods) more than it’s impacting deli, the grocers we work with need to add value to the customer experience and keep surprising them. So we’re honored that Kroger and other clients are exploring new chef-prepared food categories that keep drawing customers to the store.

The second reason we need your energy in supporting Pan Asian is that our largest grocery client has made significant investments in kiosk design that match our style: contemporary and sophisticated. If you keep up with business news, you’ll know they have a national track record of growth, competing for customers, and winning. It’s vital that we continue to be part of that.

“As our business expands so will the demands on us,” says JFE Vice President Brian Lee. “But what franchisees can continue to expect, along with the responsibility of taking a large store, is that, even if sales performance varies between menu items, their net profit from the whole operation will still be attractive.”

In July, our top 10 selling hot food stores, representing five of our regions with Pan Asian, averaged just under $1,200 per week. Also promising signs are that in two banners, Fry’s and Smith’s, these new categories are exceeding our sales projections.

As Kroger expands its Marketplaces into rural areas, making them the retail center of entire counties, we expect stronger Pan Asian sales. “Asian hot food is more familiar than sushi,” explains Arizona Regional Manager Joseph Beck. “I’ve seen that, unlike how neighborhood sushi restaurants help our sushi sales, hot food seems to do well when neighborhoods have fewer Asian fast-casual options.” Beck’s top two Pan Asian stores, for example, averaged more than $3,000 weekly in July!

We’re excited about creating these new chef-prepared choices. If you know our 10-year story, you know we’ve been a valued player in creating new categories and deli excitement for our clients. An added bonus is that our expanding restaurant operations and grocery operations can learn from each other, the brand we share getting more widely known by the day. With your continued teamwork, we’ll all win the long game!