Dash In’s neighborhood store concept incorporates an open kitchen in the center of the c-store, where a wide variety of made-to-order, fresh and grab-and-go items are prepared for hungry guests.
Amid the pandemic, the La Plata, Md.-based chain has continued to reevaluate and upgrade its existing foodservice offers while adding high-quality, diverse menu items and flavors — sliders, quesadillas, sandwiches and even seafood — with more in the works.
CStore Decisions is recognizing Dash In with a “Best Foodservice Launch” designation for the food program at its neighborhood stores.
A family-owned company since 1926, the Wills Group operates nearly 300 retail locations across the Mid-Atlantic region, including Splash In ECO Car Wash, SMO Motor Fuels and Dash In convenience stores.
Of the more than 50 Dash In locations throughout Maryland, Virginia and Delaware, 27 sites currently feature the neighborhood store concept, with plans to grow to 34 by the end of 2021.
“We’re slowly remodeling all our legacy Dash In sites and are working to have them all transitioned over to neighborhood stores within the next few years,” said Dash In Senior Director of Food, Beverage and Retail Programs Barbara Nova. “At Dash In, we pride ourselves on being a hub for convenient living and look forward to continuing to expand and enhance our offerings for customers.”
These updated stores add the center-store open kitchen that is a hallmark of the design, along with an array of made-to-order, fresh and grab-and-go items. And each includes specific elements and food and beverage selections to reflect the local community.
Menu items include salads and wraps, sandwiches, sliders, quesadillas and doughnuts, to name a few, all with a focus on fresh, high-quality ingredients.
New Menu Items
Innovation is “incredibly important” to today’s customers, Nova said, and Dash In spends a lot of time identifying and capitalizing on new flavor trends as they enter the market before launching new menu items.
And despite the pandemic, 2020 was a busy year for the c-store chain.
“In 2020, Dash In launched quite a number of foodservice innovations,” she said. “We started by reviewing every recipe on our menu and working to refine each item, looking at different breads, sauces and other fresh, high-quality ingredients we could incorporate on our menu.”
For example, as an extension of its commitment to sourcing high-quality products for its menu, all Dash In slider sandwiches — such as its BBQ Pork or its Buffalo Chicken sliders — now come on King’s Hawaiian buns. The team also upgraded all of Dash In’s cold sandwich recipes and added new sandwiches to the lineup: the Turkey Cucumber Kaiser and the Smoked Ham and Monterey Jack.
Dash In also expanded its quesadilla line by introducing two new varieties: the Pork Carnitas Quesadilla, made with slow-smoked pork shoulder and caramelized onions, and the southwest-style Steak and Cheddar Quesadilla.
The chain’s hot sub line got an upgrade, too.
“We introduced a unique version of a cheesesteak — the Chesapeake Steak and Cheese Sub — which brings a whole new local twist to this menu favorite,” said Nova. “Customers have already been really excited about this menu item in particular.”
2021 has already brought new changes to the Dash In menu with the addition of the Fish & Chips Meal — two crispy, crunchy wild-caught cod fillets and crispy, golden-brown potato wedges — and the Wild Caught Cod Po’boy — two crispy, crunchy wild-caught cod fillets served with crunchy dill pickles, fresh red onions, house slaw and Dash In’s house-made Sriracha Old Bay remoulade sauce.
And its plans aren’t slowing. Nova said Dash In has “a number of new items earmarked for launch in the coming months.”
No matter the offer, quality is key.
“We don’t sacrifice taste and flavor here at Dash In,” said Nova. “Our goal isn’t to make something that is just ‘gas-station’ good but to create recipes that wow guests into saying, ‘Now that’s delicious!’ Dash In is here to show you it’s possible to get flavorful, fresh and quality food at a convenience store.”