Whether topped with pepperoni or chicken, ranch dressing or mac and cheese, pizza is a foodservice favorite across the board. CStore Decisions is awarding Kwik Trip a “Best of Pizza” recognition for its pizza program’s quality, consistency and innovation.
“We just keep selling a lot of pizza,” said Kwik Trip Foodservice Director Paul Servais.
And for good reason. La Crosse, Wis.-based Kwik Trip, which operates more than 700 locations throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, sells delicious, high-quality pizzas from its central commissary, with a popular limited-time offer (LTO) program, in-store sampling and now, in select markets, delivery.
Kwik Trip first partnered with Wisconsin-based delivery company EatStreet in August 2019 and, thanks to a “very positive” response, is now working to expand the program to all the markets where EatStreet operates.
“Wherever EatStreet is and Kwik Trip is, we deliver,” said Servais.
Although delivery has been trending all year, it’s especially valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 17, Kwik Trip announced that it would waive all delivery fees through April so customers could more easily order food from the comfort and safety of their homes.
LTOs are a great way to try out new trends and drive sales. If a pizza is really popular, Kwik Trip will bring it back again for a limited time or add it as a permanent menu item — which is what happened with its Mac and Cheese pizza, for example.
The current LTO is Four Cheese Margherita; it’s meat-free for the Lent season and comes on a wood-fired crust first introduced last year.
“You get a little bit of that charcoal-y wood flavor and a little thinner crust,” said Servais, adding that this crust is exclusive to the Four Cheese Margherita pizza.
“The other ones are just on traditional pizza crust, nothing fancy,” he said. “I know there’s still a lot trending out there with wheat-free or gluten-free crusts and things like that. But we haven’t dabbled in that yet.”
In an ideal world, he said, the Four Cheese Margherita will be out of stock by the end of April.
“Since we control the production, we produce our own products in our commissary, we pick a number and say, ‘Let’s make 100,000,’” said Servais. “And when they’re gone, they’re gone.”
Next up, in late April, Kwik Trip will introduce a brand-new LTO pizza: Chicken Cordon Bleu, featuring chicken, ham and bacon on a ranch sauce with mozzarella and provolone cheese.
Past LTOs include the Meaty Italian and the Firehouse Pizza, which is topped with spicy Italian sausage over a layer of pepper jack cheese and roasted red peppers, zesty sauce and crushed red pepper flakes.
“Spicy keeps growing, or anything hot, because the younger, discerning palates, that’s what they like,” said Servais. “So anything you can do to get a little spice or a little heat into the product, people like that.”
To showcase new offers and LTOs, as well as demonstrate overall quality, Kwik Trip does a lot of in-store sampling. In fact, the c-store chain hires people whose sole responsibility is to sample products. Allowing customers to try before they buy builds trust and, for Kwik Trip, has led to increased sales.
Yet, no matter the LTO or the latest trends, some customers just want the classics.
“Pepperoni,” said Servais. “That’s what we still sell the most of.”