DALLAS —When 7-Eleven Inc. acquired Stripes in January 2018, onlookers contemplated the fate of the Laredo Taco Company. The Stripes foodservice concept known for its handmade tortillas and freshly cooked offerings had gained a loyal following, even earning a visit from the likes of Anthony Bourdain on one of his last trips through West Texas. Over the past year, Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven had started capitalizing on its new synergies, such as rolling out Slurpees at some Stripes locations. This month, the company has taken one of its biggest steps toward merging the foodservice programs with a new 7-Eleven lab store in Dallas featuring Laredo Taco Company and a cafe.
- 7-Eleven is No. 1 in the Top 40 update of CSP's2018 Top 202 ranking of c-store chains by number of retail outlets.
“The 7-Eleven lab is an experiential testing ground where customers can try and buy our latest innovations in a revolutionary new store format,” a 7-Eleven spokesperson told CSP Daily News. “7-Eleven plans to open other lab stores in geographically dispersed markets across the United States. We will study sales results, shopping trends and customer feedback to help determine the innovations that could launch in other stores around the country.”
Here’s a look inside the first of several 7-Eleven lab stores that will serve as launching pads for new ideas ...
New menu additions
The retailer is piloting an expanded Laredo Taco Company menu in the store. Customers can try new signature entrees and sides. Additionally, 7-Eleven is also deploying a new Street Taco menu with seven meat choices served on corn tortillas. The restaurant has also added three new salsas, including Chile de Arbol, Habanero and Cilantro Verde.
A fresh beverage offer
The Dallas concept is the first 7-Eleven store to feature made-to-order coffee drinks, cold-pressed juices and aguas frescas. The beverage lineup offers customizable drinks in a full-service beverage format. Customers can also grab drinks on tap, such as nitro cold brew, kombucha and organic teas.
The hard stuff
The store showcases an expanded alcohol section called The Cellar. The alcove merchandises wines and craft beers and leads customers to a growler station. Customers can get local 64-ounce beers and ciders packaged to go or sip libations at the bar seating at the front windows or Laredo Taco Company’s indoor and patio seating.
A frictionless format
As more Amazon Go and other frictionless retail concepts sprout up around the country, the lab gives 7-Eleven the opportunity to test Scan & Pay technology. Customers can make non-age restricted purchases directly by scanning products with their smartphones.
This technology is deployed at the c-store’s Sweet and Cold Treats Bar, which invites customers to choose between frozen yogurt or ice cream and customize with an assortment of sweet and savory toppings. Near where shoppers select their cup or cone, the store has posted QR codes that they can scan to pay for their items.