Tried-and-true c-store foodservice staples like roller grill hot dogs, pizza slices and chicken tenders are an ideal base on which to build an extensive high-quality food offering.
Clark’s Pump-N-Shop, which has 68 locations in Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Florida, has long been a foodservice destination with its successful chicken and roller grill programs. As of last April, the chain also added pizza to its meal mix at one of the stores, and the results have been even better than expected, said Jessica Russell, Pump-N-Shop’s food service director.
Just as important as dollar sales, the newly available pies have grown overall foodservice sales instead of cannibalizing from the other offerings, she noted. Even the stores’ morning daypart, their highest volume time of day, increased with the introduction of a breakfast pizza.
Pizza Slices & Pies
Pump-N-Shop offers two crust options, one of which is gluten free, and creates specialty pizzas such as the buffalo chicken, bacon and ranch and barbecue to showcase the variety of topping options. A hot case with a digital menu on top is dedicated to the slices for easy grab and go.
Russell noted that rollout of the program is set to begin to around 30 additional stores.
Pizza is a staple at Pilot Flying J convenience stores and travel centers, which includes 750 locations in 44 states and six Canadian provinces. According to Jamie King, senior director of food and beverage, “pizza sales are driving incremental sales growth over prior years.”
In addition to traditional toppings, the stores offer a constant rotation of seasonal and specialty pies such as chicken, bacon and ranch, barbecue brisket and cordon bleu.
Those toppings are built on a signature, hand-stretched crust that is “hand-roped” 46 times “to create the perfect pizza canvas,” King pointed out. Slices are the bestsellers.
“We promote our pizza in multiple ways, including through special offers on the myRewards Plus app and signage inside the stores,” he said.
Until the beginning of this year, FriendShip Food Stores in Ohio was best known as a pizza slice purveyor, but now the company is focused on growing whole pie sales. Of its 28 total stores, 20 serve pizza.
“We’ve more than quadrupled our pizza sales, particularly whole pies,” explained Kirk Matthews, vice president of foodservice and marketing for FriendShip.
Made with a proprietary sauce and cheese, 16- inch, one-topping pies are available at an everyday value price of $9.99. The company also creates clever promotions such as a $5 Pizza Day to incentivize loyalty members and Tax Day prices of $4.15 and $5.17 on the dates tax returns are due this year.
But just because whole pie sales are soaring does not mean slice sales are suffering. According to Matthews, that part of the business is growing as well, particularly with promotions like a $2.99 price or two for $5 specials.
Chicken & Roller Grill
Chicken is a huge part of the foodservice offering at Pilot Flying J, not only in its own category, but also across the pizza, salad and sandwich categories, King said. It is the star of a slate of items introduced in May including Southern Chicken and Spicy Chicken Sandwiches and a Greek Chicken Wrap.
At its 20 stores with kitchens, FriendShip entices customers with tenders that are 35% larger than aver- age, fresh never frozen, store-battered and breaded at value prices, Matthews said. Available at an every- day price of $9.99, the nine-piece meal with battered and fried jojo potatoes is the top seller.
Fresh, store-breaded chicken has been a strong seller at Clark’s Pump-N-Shop for the past 12 years, Russell stated. The 13 stores that showcase the chicken in hot cases right by the checkout areas have a “great lunch volume,” with tenders leading the sales.
Roller grill continues to present a host of meal and snack options at Pump-N-Shop. Available in 30 of the stores (and growing, according to Russell), there are two grills in each location — one for hot dogs and the other for taquitos.
Taquitos are the best movers, beating out hot dogs 3:1. Four varieties of each are featured on the roller grills every day. Limited-time offer (LTO) items are promoted with vendor participation.