MEADVILLE, Pa. —A Pennsylvania Quick Stop’s $1 million renovation project is complete as of Jan. 17, and it now boasts a quick-service restaurant (QSR), gas station and more store space.
Store Manager Indy Patel said his cousins, who are also in the c-store business, recommended Krispy Krunchy, which features Cajun-style chicken, he told CSP Daily News.
“It’s doing pretty good for us. I’m doing more business than what I thought I would,” Patel said of early sales of the chicken. “I’m having a hard time finding employees.”
Before the expansion, he had 12 employees including himself, Patel told the Tribune, and he anticipated he would need eight to 10 more afterward.
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Patel said the expansion of the kitchen and store, originally slated to finish in October 2020 but delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, doubled the location’s footprint from 2,400 to 4,800 square feet. Only 3,800 square feet are being used now, leaving them to decide what to do with the rest.
“Before, we had a very tiny kitchen, but we made it big [with the renovation]. We would buy frozen food, half-cooked,” he said. “We had a smaller fryer for chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, fries, onion rings, boneless wings. We’d make it up. But now, we’re a Krispy Krunchy Chicken franchise. It’s all from raw.”
Patel said he plans on adding more items to the lunch/dinner menu, as well as scooped ice cream down the road, but first he wants the chicken business to become a well-oiled machine, including getting the food staff lined up and trained on all aspects of the chicken process. “I want to add it little by little as employees can handle,” he said. “Quality is No. 1. You have to give the customer what they’re paying for.”
In the meantime, he intends to get breakfast up and running in a few weeks, at which point the c-store will open an hour earlier, at 5 a.m.
“We’ll add burgers and grilled Philly cheesesteak subs,” he said, items he’ll purchase from a distributor. “But I’m so busy with the Krispy Krunchy Chicken program that I want to get that in order first. With breakfast, there’s nothing going on.”
Seating in corner
Previously, Patel said, the store included 30 seats to accommodate a liquor license, but they went mostly unused. “But now they’re used for seating. It’s a whole corner of the store, which is L-shaped,” Patel said. “The shorter side of the L is the restaurant.”
In addition to the chicken, the other recommendations on which food items to carry also came from his cousins, who suggested items selling well in their Georgia c-store. “We’ll be making it our own brand. It will be a Quick Stop food store brand,” he said, noting that Krispy Krunchy Chicken allows franchisees sell other brands, a policy not all franchisers permit.
Upon getting the Krispy Krunchy Chicken QSR set up, the franchiser came to the Quick Stop for a week of training. “The first day they covered dates, labels, how to put items in the cooler. The second day, we started cooking everything with their recipes,” Patel said. On the fourth day, observation began, allowing the staff to run the kitchen itself, but a trainer was there to observe and provide help as needed.
“He continued observing until we were good to go, about seven days,” said Patel.
Fuel pumps added
Outside the c-store, Patel added a new Shell-branded gas station with four pumps, allowing for eight vehicles. The c-store previously did not have a gas station. City records put the estimated construction costs at $550,000, the Tribune reported.
Adding equipment and fixtures brings the project’s total cost to $1 million, said Patel, whose family has owned the store for more than 15 years.
More down the road?
Plans in the future might include a car wash. It was originally in the expansion plans but eliminated due to cost, although the plan left a space for one. "We did an analysis on it, and it wasn't worth doing that big of a project, but we might put a small one in. We don't know when yet," he told the Tribune.
Krispy Crunchy Chicken, based in Alexandria, La., started in 1989 and is in 47 states and American Samoa, as well as Mexico.