QT's 'Latest & Largest'

Wichita's next-gen QuikTrip adds baristas, room for alcohol-beverage sales

A QuikTrip Generation Three store.

WICHITA, Kansas -- QuikTrip rolled out its Generation Three store prototype in Wichita, Kansas, late last week, with the opening of the company's newest convenience store, reported the Wichita Eagle. It's the latest and largest model as the Tulsa, Okla.-based chain steps up its bid for the local fast-food dollar and readies itself to sell more alcohol beverages if Kansas loosens its liquor laws.

The new Wichita store joins three in Tulsa, four in the Carolinas, one in Texas, one in Kansas City and 45 new stores under construction. Currently, QT has 591 stores nationally, including about 20 in the Wichita area.

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The new, 5,700-square-foot store is a significant departure from the QT business model, company spokesperson Mike Thornbrugh told the newspaper. Its features include two front doors, a larger QT Kitchens area, room for more liquor and a first for the chain: a hot and cold drink and ice cream area staffed by baristas.

"Typically, everything in our stores has been self-service, so this is definitely our newest wrinkle," Thornbrugh said. "This is going to require more staff, and it requires a store laid out in a way so the checkstands are completely different. It will require more work and effort to keep everything in place, to merchandise things properly and take care of the customer."

He added, "We know Kansas will change its adult beverage laws. If not this year, shortly. This new look gives us the opportunity to accommodate customer choices."

Currently, c-stores can sell only 3.2 beer and wine coolers, said the report; a move to allow grocery and c-stores to sell liquor, wine and full-strength beer died during the last legislative session.

The extra room also will mean more daily fresh food, and Thornbrugh said QT's venture into the fast-food business will grow. "QT Kitchens offers us the opportunity to grow with a lot more variety, and this concept gives us the opportunity to do so," he told the Eagle. "Our core customer wants something readily consumable, something they can walk in and grab and eat in the car, or take back to work and home. That side of our business is continuing to grow."

The company also plans to grow its "Grab-and-Go" food line, including pizzas, lasagna and pastas, the report said.

The new prototype and store layout represents a change in traditional in-store traffic patterns, Thornbrugh said. It is designed to route customers directly to what they want.

The prototype is "quite a step for them," Wichita State University marketing professor Cindy Claycomb told the paper. "Particularly the baristas. Their business model has always been built on employees who are fairly interchangeable, so it'll be interesting to see if the baristas specialize or if the store will have more cross-training. That would seem logical to me."

But she said, "They really test what they're thinking in Tulsa, and if they go forward, they're confident in it. There's a market for the food expansion, if you can compete with the likes of … McDonald's This certainly seems to ramp them up to be even more of a one-stop shop than McDonald's."

In a separate report, Steve Wilson, with QuikTrip of Wichita, told KSN-TV, "We are very, very excited about this concept. We've listened to consumers and this is what they want.

"What we're really looking to do is increase our fresh food sales."

The store has tables and chairs out front for customers to enjoy some of those new additions to QuikTrip. "Our research shows that a lot of people on the go will actually eat in their cars in the parking lot. We want to offer a better choice," said Wilson.