The Retail Design Institute has recognized a New York firm for the “foodvenience” concept it created for an Upa! convenience store in Chile. Joseph Bona, president of Bona Design Lab, was the creator of the concept. Their definition of “foodvenience” means a store that has a product assortment typical of c-stores combined with a grill serving fresh, gourmet-quality foods and the offer of other freshly prepared food and drinks.
The award-winning design was created for a 2,900-s.f. stand-alone Upa! store located on the ground floor of a new office building on Avenida Apoquindo in Santiago. The location also offers an extensive selection of wines and liquors, a 5° beer cellar, an ice cream station and a variety of seating options that includes sofas and armchairs and even workstations equipped with Wi-Fi. All told, the store can seat approximately 60 people.
“What differentiates this store is that it really is a destination for people who want to relax and enjoy a high-quality offering of food and beverages,” said Joseph Bona. “The typical convenience store on a fuel site is for people who are in a hurry. Here, customers can enjoy a leisurely meal or drink or even use the space as a workplace away from home.”
The design was one of the finalists in the “Class of 2018 Winners” named by the Retail Design Institute in its 48th annual Store of the Year competition.
According to Nicolás Correa, GM of Enex, which operates c-stores under the Upa! and Upita! brands, the store was the first of three scheduled to open over a 12-month period. It also was the chain’s first location to exclude fuel; it opened in December 2018.
The architectural design of the high-rise building, which results in floor-to-ceiling glass on three sides of the store, dictated a layout that places the extensive seating in the front half of the store and concentrates the foodservice operations in the rear.
“In order to draw customers’ attention to the food and drink offerings, we used dramatic, theatrical lighting that creates visually arresting highlights and contrasts,” Bona said.
The concept drew praise from judges in the Retail Design Institute’s competition, with one summing up the project as “solid fresh modern food and convenience. The nice cafe section would make you spend more time there.”
Another judge called Upa! a “well-thought out concept and inviting design,” while a third credited Bona Design Lab for “good use of low-cost materials.”
Enex plans to open 100 new convenience stores by 2022, of which about a third will be stand-alone outlets.
Bona Design Lab is known for its elevated approaches to convenience store, food and fuel retailing. Its suite of services includes brand strategy development, consumer insights, naming/logo development, site planning, store layout, exterior/interior design and graphic design. Its capabilities in business analysis and consulting run the gamut from menu and communications strategies to equipment layout and workflow analysis, to financial metrics and operational consulting.