Slideshow: Love's Looks to 'Appetize'

Store remodels, burrito bar, frozen yogurt, sandwiches set foodservice tone

Abbie Westra, Director, Editorial, CSP

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Change is in the air at Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores. The 299-store chain has commenced remodels at a handful of stores, which include a new frozen carbonated beverage and frozen yogurt station with some special bells and whistles. It also continues to expand its made-to-order burrito program at select stores.

Watch the slideshow below.

The chain expects to complete remodels at upwards of 20 stores by the end of the year, Mike Herman, director of convenience stores, told CSP Daily News. The upgrades include a stone and brick theme on exterior walls. Interiors will receive new lighting, ceiling, flooring and walls with cherry walnut accents "for an appetizing look that's more suited to foodservice--not the typical c-store look," Herman said.

New equipment upgrades are allowing Love's to offer more options in a smaller footprint. A four-head frozen carbonated beverage dispenser lets customers choose from eight flavor shots--including watermelon, apple, strawberry, grape, even Dr Pepper--that are added to a neutral base. "Push one or push them all, and it all dispenses into the cup," said Herman.

A soft-serve frozen yogurt machine dispenses eight different types of candy pieces and eight "flavor bursts" such as cotton candy, strawberry or pecan. All toppings come out of the yogurt dispenser--a perk that made the offer possible for Love's.

"If you go to a yogurt shop, they might have five or six dispensers that take up 15 linear feet. Then they have another 10-foot refrigerated bar that has the candies and fruits. And we're doing this in basically a 6-foot space," said Herman.

"Space is a premium, and it's not like you can just stretch these stores. So it took me a while to figure out how I was going to do this in the limited space that I've got."

Stores currently under construction for the remodel include locations in Chickasha, Ada, Oklahoma City, Kingfisher and Shawnee, Okla.

Meanwhile, the chain continues to expand its made-to-order burrito offer to about 19 stores. Steam tables running along the Love's Subs sandwich line include 12-inch tortilla that can be filled with the customer's choice of meats, rice, hot sauces, sour cream and guacamole and vegetables.

The burrito line is the third phase in Love's made-to-order foodservice evolution, now six years in the making. It started with the Love's Subs line, followed by a pizza program two years ago; 45 stores offer made-to-order sandwiches, while 40 stores feature the pizza program.

Founded in 1964 by Tom Love, Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores is based in Oklahoma City and remains entirely family-owned and operated. With more than 290 locations and 130 Love's Truck Tire Care centers in 39 states, Love's approximate growth rate is 20 stores per year, it said.

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