It’s been a busy season for convenience-store retailers seeking to improve their foodservice offering: Rare is the new store format that doesn't strategize around fresh food, or the grand opening that doesn't put it front and center. Take a look at what some leading operators are rolling out, from menu extensions (lots of pizza and smoothies) to full-blown revamps with notable square footage.
At Spinx, a new smoothie program still is in the introductory phase, but early success at seven stores bodes well for expansion. Also on tap at Spinx’s latest 6,800-square-foot store format: food ordering via touch-screen kiosks, dine-in seating with free Wi-Fi and Spinx’s Fresh on the Go program of healthier food options.
“The need for a new store design arose in part from our focus on our foodservice offer,” said Rick Glay, company operations excellence manager. “We wanted to allow our associates the right amount of space, based on industry best practices, to prepare our expanding menu of meal and snack choices.”
R.H. Foster Energy
R.H. Foster Energy’s newest convenience store has a fresh new look and a fresh new focus. It took a small, outdated 954-square-foot store in Ellsworth, Maine, and transformed it into a 4,170-square-foot location that features a Freshies deli, the Ellsworth American reported.
“Our focus is going to be fresh, healthy food” because that is what more and more customers are looking for, Robert Foster, president of R.H. Foster, told the newspaper.
The store offers made-to-order smoothies, prepackaged and made-to-order salads and sandwiches, pizza, breakfast sandwiches and more. While pizza may seem like traditional c-store fare, consumers visiting the new store can get adventurous with options such as fig and prosciutto and brie and spinach. The smoothies can be customized to include ingredients such as kale, goji berries and flaxseeds.
Within the last year, Austin, Texas-based Snap Kitchen has expanded its grab-and-go meals concept into new markets, boosted its executive suite and received an investment injection from private-equity firm L Catterton. Snap Kitchen stores offer only ready-to-heat and ready-to-eat meals and meal complements such as snacks and beverages, all with a focus on healthy ingredients and special dietary needs. Not quite a convenience store, not quite a restaurant, Snap Kitchen is a concept to track as both a competitive threat and an inspiration for ideas. It landed in the No. 4 spot in Restaurant Business’ annual Future 50 list of fastest growing chains.
Rutter’s Farm Stores
Another chain strategizing around pizza, Rutter’s Farm Stores has rolled out a new fresh-baked, made-to-order pizza program. Customers can choose from two different sizes, an 8-inch personal pizza or a 16-inch family pizza, and 50 toppings.
Personal pizzas, including breakfast varieties, will be available in the hot-hold for customers to pick up as soon as they arrive, and call-ahead ordering also is available for larger purchases or for pickup, according to Rutter's.
“We are excited to bring another restaurant-quality menu item to our loyal fans, and we believe that customers will enjoy being able to customize the pizza any way they like,” said Ryan Krebs, director of food services.
Lone Star Food Store
Sherman, Texas-based Douglass Distributing has reopened its remodeled Lone Star Food Store in Denison, Texas, with an enviable collection of new merchandising areas and a new foodservice concept.
The store was expanded from 2,400 square feet to 6,300 square feet, and 600 of those feet are dedicated to a Tex-Mex concept called Mí Taco, which offers burritos, tacos, nachos, quesadillas and salads—all built to order with fresh tortillas made on site, six protein options and 16 other filling options.
The company plans to expand the Mí Taco footprint further in future stores. “We have 2,300 square feet to work with at our next site, so we’ll be able to expand the menu to include more ancillary items, such as a wider range of beverages, snacks and desserts,” Lone Star CEO Diane McCarty said.
Maverik Inc. recently opened a convenience store in downtown Salt Lake City on the ground floor of its new corporate offices, coined Base Camp by the adventure-sports-themed chain.
Maverik also is opening its first full-service Bodacious Bean barista bar in the Base Camp location. It offers hot coffee, nitro-tap cold-brew coffee (coffee injected with nitrogen for a smooth, creamy finish), espresso, cappuccino, hot chocolate and other handcrafted drinks. The store also includes a Cinnabon bakery and the brand’s Bonfire Grill, where employees serve up pizzas, burritos and more.