ALTOONA, Pa. — Capitalizing on a program reputation that precedes it, as well as clout that the chain has accumulated from both employees and patrons, Sheetz Inc. landed a top-five spot on USA Today’s Best Regional Fast Food list.
Chosen by a panel of experts and voted on by readers, the list was announced in April as part of the national newspaper’s “10 Best Readers’ Choice” travel awards.
In the description of Sheetz foodservice, USA Today remarked that “if you’re in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio or North Carolina, be sure to stop at Sheetz, a combination gas station and made-to-order sandwich shop. The menu is available 24/7, with options like subs, sandwiches, salads, wraps and smoothies.”
The Altoona, Pa.-based chain of 564 c-stores took fourth place on the USA Today list, garnering menu-wide recognition, as no specific food or drink item was singled out by the selection team, which noted that all brands on its top 10 list (see accompanying chart) offered the caliber of foodservice that “should be nationwide.”
The honor marks the second this year, as Sheetz in February ranked No. 85 on the 2019 Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For” report, which recognizes companies with “exceptional workplace cultures.” Sheetz was the only c-store chain to appear on the Fortune list.
“It’s another arrow in our quiver,” Nicholas Ruffner, public relations manager for Sheetz, told CSP Daily News about making the USA Today list. The company’s 19,000-plus employees and customers were instrumental in securing selection as they accumulated a swell of votes endorsing Sheetz foodservice program—including the “Sheetz freakz” living both within and outside the company’s retail footprint, he said.
Being mentioned in the same context with brands such as Culver’s, In-N-Out Burger and others is “an honor,” Ruffner said, and mustering the votes speaks to the loyalty of both employees and patrons.
Along those lines, ongoing relationship-building among store associates with customers coupled with Sheetz’ penchant for interacting in local communities was instrumental in helping secure a position on the USA Today compilation, he said.
So was customer demand for one-stop shopping, as a growing number of people fuel up, buy staples and food to go inside the store, which adds additional exposure to a food offer. “It’s in our DNA to innovate. We were one of the first chains to offer touch-screen ordering (tracing to the mid-1990s), and most recently introduced mobile ordering,” said Ruffner. “Our goal is to give customers what they want, how they want it and when they want it.”
Sheetz isn’t planning anything elaborate in the near term to broadcast the USA Today mention, be it menu expansion or beyond, he said, but the plan is staying the course to offer a quality, expansive foodservice menu—founded on service, made-to-order capabilities and innovation.
One way that Sheetz foodservice will grow this year and beyond comes as the chain adds 20 to 25 stores per year across its footprint, as well as through renovations of existing stores, which would result in expanded foodservice programs, Ruffner said.
USA Today’s Top 10
- Habit Burger
- Pal's Sudden Service
- In-N-Out Burger
- Quaker Steak & Lube
- Cook Out