7-Eleven Goes Gourmet

Store operators taste test new fresh-food options

RICHMOND, Va. -- The 7-Eleven chain is taking a new perspective on convenience-store foods, offering much more than hot dogs and Slurpees, according to a report in the Daily Press.

Many 7-Eleven stores already offer fresh sandwiches, salads and other fare, but at a corporate training session in Richmond, Va., today, the company plans to roll out numerous new food items it will be testing in its stores.

About 2,000 “students”—store operators and field staff from 7-Elevens in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia—will take part in the annual University [image-nocss] of 7-Eleven. This year, the company will unveil its new gourmet product line of fresh foods and beverages, according to the report.

The Richmond show will focus on the approximately 100 stores where hot food is being tested. Some of the fare being sampled at the session includes 90-second Pepperoni Pizza, Phast Philly Cheese Steak, chicken tenders, chicken wings and churros, fried dough snacks with cinnamon and sugar.

Also among the food offerings will be Jazz apples, a variety that is a combination of two other kinds of apples and have a sweet-tart taste, Margaret Chabris, spokesperson for 7-Eleven Inc., told the newspaper.

National products that will come soon are the Slurpuccino, which is the company's first coffee-flavored Slurpee drink, reformulated blends of dark roast and decaf coffees, and the new Midnight Madness hot chocolate.

Adding a touch of culture, egg roll-inspired Asian rollers will be on the grill, along with the three-cheese bite and the Go-Go Taquito-Chicken Fajita.

The Dallas-based company also will offer more freshly made sandwiches, with artisan breads. A soft Italian focaccia roll is used with the turkey bacon ranch club, and there's a turkey havarti sandwich.

All the new foods are expected to be in stores between late spring and early fall. "The inspiration behind these new products is what the consumer wants, which is fresh, quality affordable foods," Chabris said.

Nationally, the company has regionalized some fresh foods and baked goods according to the tastes of the areas.

· In Ontario, Calif., visitors sampled items like grilled Slim Jim Sizzle Sticks and Chicken Pesto Croissants.

· In Orlando, Fla., guava-infused pastries and Cuban sandwiches with Mojo ham were offered.

· And in Portland, Ore., it was the Tillamook bulk jerky and blueberry cheese Danish.

Not only is the food new, so is some of the wrapping. The company is taking part in the "green" movement by introducing environmentally friendly food packaging.

Also hitting stores next month is a new credit card co-branded with Chase.