Kangaroo Express Hops on Taco Restaurant Concept

The Pantry testing latest offer in two locations

CARY, N.C. -- The Pantry's Kangaroo Express chain is testing a new co-branded quick-service restaurant concept with the hope of further boosting food sales in its stores.

The Cary, N.C.-based chain of convenience stores is testing the Taco Del Mar concept in two recently remodeled stores, CEO Dennis Hatchell reported on a quarterly earnings conference call May 7. The stores are in Hastings and Orange Park, Fla.

"Taco Del Mar is a Mexican food concept specializing in fish tacos [and] owned by [the same people who own] Subway," he said. "We will continue to look for additional opportunities to grow this promising concept as we see more results and find additional locations where it will be a good fit."

Begun in Seattle in 1992, the Taco Del Mar menu offers a "fast, fun and delicious alternative to traditional Mexican food," according to the franchised restaurant group's website. Each restaurant features large, hand-rolled "Mondo Burritos and rippin' fish tacos" made to order.

The chain aims for fast service, enthusiastic employees and restaurants inspired by beach culture.

The Taco Del Mar test is the latest in The Pantry's foodservice focus, which today includes adding Subway QSRs in many of its sites, as well as its proprietary Aunt M's offer. Kangaroo Express has 219 restaurant locations, featuring Subway, Dairy Queen, Krystal and Hardees.

The c-store chain's newest store design includes a Subway drive-thru and both indoor and outdoor seating.

"Adding QSRs has been a significant focus," Hatchell said. "We currently have six new QSRs under construction and plan to add 17 more over the second half of our fiscal year."

Based in Cary, N.C., The Pantry Inc. is a leading independently operated convenience store chain in the southeastern United States and one of the largest independently operated convenience store chains in the country. As of May 7, 2013, the company operated 1,567 stores in 13 states under select banners, including Kangaroo Express, its primary operating banner.

For more on The Pantry's retailing strategy, see the May issue of CSP magazine.

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