Springfield, Mo.-based Gier Oil Co.’s Eagle Stop takes foodservice seriously, and its extensive menu is evidence of that.
Depending on the size of the location, its 50-plus c-stores’ menus may feature breaded-chicken sandwiches, roller-grill sausages, freshly made sushi, teriyaki chicken and fried rice, freshly baked biscuits for biscuits and gravy, and quarter-pound 100% all angus-beef bacon cheeseburgers. Plus, its On the Fly pizza program features freshly baked crusts, fresh mozzarella cheese and authentic Italian ingredients.
Ultimately, Eagle Stop Food Service Director Jon Siron, one of CStore Decisions’ 2020 40 Under 40 c-store leaders to watch, is passionate about foodservice, serving his communities and redefining ‘gas station food,’ one meal at a time.
Read on to learn more about Eagle Stop’s upcoming offers, Siron’s go-to foodservice equipment and his thoughts on the future of convenience foodservice.
CStore Decisions (CSD): Can you tell me about any new or upcoming foodservice offerings since we last spoke?
Jon Siron (JS): We are about to launch our new limited-time offer (LTO) Seasonal Salads. We have The Cheffy, a base house salad with locally sourced organic carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers, topped with fresh-cut ham, turkey and smoked bacon; Hail Caesar, our house Caesar salad; The Boujee, a fancy spring mix salad with artichokes, toasted pecans, cranberries, feta and grilled chicken; The Red White and BOOM! — a lovely summer salad with strawberries, blueberries, grilled chicken and feta; and The Buff Chick Salad, with bacon, chicken, bleu cheese crumbles, cheddar, buffalo sauce and a pinch of lettuce, to keep it ‘healthy’ — ha!
We are also hard at work in the kitchen finishing recipes for a new line of dessert pizza offerings from our On the Fly pizza program. I can’t tell much, but I’ll have s’more info soon.
CSD: Which daypart is Eagle Stop’s busiest, and which holds the most growth potential?
JS: Our bread and butter is in breakfast and lunch; we serve thousands of fresh-made breakfast sandwiches, burritos and biscuits and gravy every day. Whether it’s someone getting off a third shift grabbing some food to take home, or someone fueling their day, we have the privilege of being the place they trust to start (or end) their day.
Our new pizza program is shaping up to be a huge contender. We are noticing more to-go orders than ever before — it holds the most growth potential for sure. We want to be the household name in our towns, where people can call in or order pizza online for pickup. We are excited to watch it grow.
CSD: In what ways is the pandemic affecting Eagle Stop’s foodservice?
JS: Let’s be real: In rural Missouri, people don’t care much about a pandemic. We saw maybe a week of slowdown, but we are all workers, blue-collar folks who work hard and push on because if we don’t, things won’t get done.
We saw more local jurisdiction and enforcement than anything — no roller grills, no self-serve, masking, etc. Otherwise, we were already pre-packaging our food, so there wasn’t much difference.
Pricing certainly is affecting certain items — beef, pork, even paper goods are hard to source, so we had to take a couple different routes but navigated that quickly and are moving forward.
CSD: What are some must-have pieces of equipment to make c-store foodservice successful in your opinion, and why?
JS: Walk-in cooler/freezer and a good air induction oven! Every time we rebuild or build a new location, non-negotiables are walk-ins and a new ventless conveyor oven.
Food storage space is something that was never considered in our older locations — gas station food simply wasn’t thought of as an important component to a c-store 20-plus years ago. I have some stores with chest freezers taking up the whole back room; it’s a total waste of space where we could’ve just built correctly and installed the walk-ins.
In this day and age, where foodservice is an essential part of convenience store life, we have to have the storage capacity for our products, and also a good, ventless oven — no hood vent required.
CSD: What’s ahead for Eagle Stop, or for convenience foodservice as a whole?
JS: I am excited to soon move from the corporate office into a test kitchen/office facility adjacent to one of our locations, so I can begin to work on new items and recipes that I will be able to test in said location. I am steering the ship toward an era where we may soon look into building a working commissary to distribute our foodservice products more efficiently and with consistency.
I believe the future looks bright for foodservice in the convenience field. I think companies are finally starting to take it seriously, and I cannot wait to see what the future brings!