With the variety of crusts and toppings readily available, there’s no “same old, same old” when it comes to pizza.
While familiar cheese and pepperoni remain the favorites, creations such as chicken bacon ranch, mac and cheese, and breakfast pizzas are growing rapidly in popularity, noted Mark DiDomenico, director, customer solutions for Datassential research company.
At 29 of the 35 Cubby’s convenience stores in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, either the company’s own brand or Godfather’s Pizza is available. In most of its markets, pepperoni is still king, except in Nebraska, where beef is the most requested topping. Cubby’s customers also go for specialty pies such as chicken bacon ranch, bacon cheeseburger, buffalo chicken and taco as well as a “create your own” option.
Adapting to Trends
Breakfast pizza is also a very big seller, noted De Lone Wilson, president of Cubby’s. The stores sell a lot of Godfather’s minis, its own Cubby’s-branded slices and made-to-order large pies.
“The latest trend in pizza is having customers go down a Chipotle-esque line of ingredients and build their own pie, which is quickly cooked in a wood-fired or extremely hot oven,” DiDomenico reported.
Lunch is still the biggest daypart for pizza at Cubby’s, but snack occasions are accounting for an increasing number of sales, Wilson said. The company switched from minis to slices for individual consumption of their own branded pizza “because we’ve found that people are more likely to grab a slice than a full mini for a 3 p.m. snack.”
Cubby’s has introduced online ordering with Godfather’s Pizza.
“Online ordering has increased our sales by 10% and increased our average order size,” Wilson reported.
Some of the locations also offer home delivery to customers who order online, by calling the stores or through an Uber Eats app on their phones.
At Yesway and Allsup’s convenience stores (Yesway acquired Allsup’s in November 2019 and now operates 415 stores), pizza is a core offering. At Allsup’s, a new signature innovation, a deep-fried pepperoni slice, quickly became a top 10 item within the stores’ hot food program and “has carved out a unique position in the market,” said Derek Gaskins, senior vice president of merchandising and procurement.
While the deep-fried pepperoni slice is Allsup’s sole item in the category, Yesway offers an array of pies, both made-to-order and grab-and-go, including cheese, pepperoni, sausage, breakfast and a frozen pie for customers to “take and bake” at home. Lunch is the key daypart for pizza. Gaskins noted that later evening snacking sales are growing.