The Pilot Express stores are “still travel centers, with diesel lanes, just a much smaller format and total site layout,” Ferguson said. “They’re focused on food, speed and fantastic customer service.”
The company has opened Pilot Express stores in Steubenville, Ohio; Grand Prairie, Texas; Newark, N.J.; and Houston. A fifth is in the works in Jacksonville, Fla. Additional locations will open throughout 2018, beginning this summer, said Ferguson.
As to where, “the sky’s the limit,” he said. “Because they are a smaller format, we have the flexibility to build them wherever we’d like, wherever the drivers need these services, wherever there are opportunities in the market, whether it’s interstate highways, U.S. highways or urban or suburban environments.”
Shannon Johnson, the chain’s new vice president of food innovation, has “put together a tremendous new food offering and experience,” Ferguson said. “We’re layering that into our new stores, and into our larger formats as well.”
The new Pilot Express concept “puts food front and center, with homestyle meals, fresh salads, made-to-order sandwiches, grab and go, premium beverages and coffees—those are really the hallmarks of the new concept. The whole store and the entire environment is built around food innovation and our PJ Fresh Marketplace concept,” he said.