Hardy Eats

Hardy Oil grows its foodservice with blend of branded, proprietary platforms

Abbie Westra, Director, Editorial, CSP

IRVINE, Ky. -- As Hardy Oil Co. Inc. rolls out Chester's Chicken kiosks in six stores over the next few months, district manager Jeremy Brock is looking forward to the draw the popular brand will bring. But Chester's is just one component of the foodservice equation at this 18-unit convenience store chain.

Along with a few stores carrying the Hunt Bros. pizza brand, Hardy also has its own menu, which includes fish, fried foods and the "plated lunch," a home-cooked hot special of the day. Served from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the plated lunch is made in advance and held in [image-nocss] a steamer table. If stores run out, they just make more. The revolving menu includes roast beef and meatloaf and classic sides such as mashed potatoes, rolls and corn.

"We really get a lot of response from it," Brock told CSP Daily News about the popular program. While most customers take the plated lunch or other food items to go, othersparticularly at stores near factoriesdine in. "For people who don't want the fast-food experience all the time, they want somewhere where the can sit down and have a good, home-cooked lunch and mingle with their friends."

Nine Hardy Food Marts have a foodservice program, and six of them serve the plated lunch. The meals are prepared in kitchens consisting of a convection oven, a four-burner stove, deep fryer and a griddle, as well as the steam table. "With this, we can make almost any home-cooked meal, and most from scratch," said Brock.

The company hires employees to specifically work the foodservice side, but Brock optimizes labor by placing the foodservice area near the c-store register. "This way, the cashiers can assist in foodservice, and deli employees with the c-store."

In the future, Brock and Hardy Oil, Irvine, Ky., will continue expanding the foodservice offer with a combination of branded, licensed programs and its own menu items. "I think the mix of the two is really what makes us successful," said Brock.

The mix also guides advertising. Locals are targeted with the Hardy menu, while travelers are lured in with the branded names such as Chester's.Click here to read CSP Daily News' previous coverage of Hardy Oil's rollout of Chester's Chicken kiosks.

"These areas tend to draw travelers with familiar names, such as Chester's, but draw locals by the daily specials where they can get a meat, two veggies, roll and a drink for $5.29," Brock said. "Simply advertise your menu for the week in the local paper and you're all set. Now that we have partnered with Chester's, it's just icing on the cake."

Abbie Westra, CSP/Winsight By Abbie Westra, Director, Editorial, CSP
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