Speedy Cafe: Redefining Convenience Store Foodservice  6/30/2017

Speedway is redefining what it means to serve “Convenience Store Food,” and I had the opportunity to see firsthand just how the convenience store chain is accomplishing this during a recent visit to one of its Speedy Cafés with some colleagues from ECRM's Foodservice team.

The 2,730-store Speedway chain currently operates 77 Speedy Cafés inside of its stores, with plans for 214 by the end of this year and 360 by the end of 2018. Why? Because consumers are turning to c-stores as a place to buy more than just gas and beer, and the folks at Speedway recognize this demand from consumers and don’t want to miss out on these incremental dollars it drives.

According to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) most recent State of the Industry data, foodservice contributed 21.7 percent of in-store sales in 2016 and accounted for 35.2 percent of gross profit dollars, with prepared food and cold dispensed beverages driving the category’s growth. In 2016, convenience stores experienced growth in every foodservice subcategory except for commissary and frozen dispensed beverages.

So the team and I took a trip down to Speedway to meet with several members of the operations and sourcing team, then headed to the new flagship Speedy Café just down the street for lunch and to see its foodservice operations in action.

I was pleasantly surprised by my experience. These are true cafes – you won’t find hot dogs that have been sitting on rollers for hours. The menu includes a unique variety of round pressed paninis, made-to-order pizzas, fresh baked donuts and hand-crafted beverages. From hearty breakfast sandwiches to unique specialty dogs and rich, flavorful coffee drinks, each order is made fresh.

A Digital ‘Do You Want Fries with That?’
Then there’s the tech. I ordered a panini from the touch screen kiosk, which laid out the complete menu in a very intuitive manner, complete with calorie counts for each item. It even did some upselling on behalf of the retailer, asking if I wanted to add a frozen lemonade to my order. Based on the fact that three of the five of us who visited opted for the lemonade, I’d say this digital suggestive selling works well (and adds some incremental dollars to purchases).

I was impressed by how quickly the food was ready, and we headed outside to a picnic table to enjoy our lunch. The sandwich was great -- the bread was nice and toasty, cheese evenly melted and my baked, not fried, tater tots were the perfect side dish. Certainly not your typical convenience store fare.

As a busy mom of two young boys, I would have to say that if there were a Speedy Café in my neighborhood, I would easily consider it for a lunch option for me and my family. Here’s why:

  • The ordering process was fast and easy using the digital kiosk.
  • Meal prep was quick
  • The outdoor seating area was clean and fenced in (a plus for a mom with toddlers!)
  • The food exceeded my expectations
  • We received great value for the money we spent
Speedway is one of the many retailers who I have the pleasure of working with to help them uncover new product innovation and plan their categories. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, feel free to drop me a line!

Editor's note: Speedway will be at our Foodservice: Natural, Organic & Healthy Foods EPPS in November. Click here for more information and to register!

Consumers order meals from the touchscreen kiosks at the counter
The signage in the cafe is bright and easy to read
Me with my frozen lemonade -- an upsell courtesy of Speedy Cafe's digital kiosk. Glad I opted for it!

Stephanie Nicklos

Director of Sales

Stephanie can be reached at 440-528-0426

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