RICHMOND, Va. -- The Fas Mart convenience store chain is testing a new foodservice program--Red's--as an update to its Fas Lane Cafe, a concept that has changed little over the past decade.
"The Fas Lane Cafe menu was built on fried chicken. And it's super-high-quality fried chicken. It's fresh, never frozen. It's all hand-battered. It's a great product," said COO Chris Giacobone. "But it's fried chicken; if I don't like fried chicken or I don't want to eat fried chicken every day, I want to be able to go in the store and find a healthy option, and that's the change with Red's."
Currently fully operational in only one Fas Mart store, Red's adds to the Fas Lane Cafe menu with salads, sandwiches and yogurt parfaits made on site, as well as paninis made to order.
"It's got a healthier menu in addition to the fried chicken, which we are very well-known for. It's the old menu plus some new items, with a facelift," Giacobone said in an exclusive interview with CSP Daily News.
Developed by GPM Investments LLC's senior vice president of sales and marketing Bill Reilly, whose c-store experience includes stints at Sheetz and MAPCO, Red's--its tagline is "All in Good Taste"--aims to keep the current clientele happy while adding something for new customers.
"We couldn't get rid of the chicken," Reilly said. "There are people who come in three or four times a week for the chicken."
"But we needed something else. We didn't have a lot of grab-and-go food; you can't really eat fried chicken while you're driving," Reilly said. "We're in markets where we compete with Wawa and Sheetz and a lot of c-stores with great foodservice programs. So we needed to have something for that other end of the spectrum: fresh-made salads, fresh fruit, paninis. … Food is our future. We've got to make it work."
Along with the Red's rebranding and improvements comes an update to GPM's beverage program. While maintaining its Perfect Harvest Coffee Co. brand--supplied through Kraft--GPM brought new, updated equipment to all its stores and redesigned its cups and signage with a soft-purple logo meant to convey a message of freshness. The chain has also put Coca-Cola's Freestyle fountain machines in several stores, drawing a lot of consumer attention.
With the Red's foodservice program in operation at Fas Mart's Montpelier, Va., store only a couple of weeks, Reilly said the site is performing "extremely well," with foodservice sales up 20%.
Read more about what's new at Fas Mart and parent company GPM's other chains in the October issue of CSP magazine.
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