Mexican foods like burritos and tacos have long been popular menu items, but c-stores are expanding further with other Hispanic or Latinx foods, like empanadas, tamales and more. Fresh ingredients and customization take the offer up a notch.
Jacksonville, Fla.-based Gate Petroleum’s GATE Fresh Kitchen stores serve a variety of items made fresh every day, including empanadas, tamales and burritos, which Sara Wilson, GATE’s food service supervisor, said are popular among customers at its stores across Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
And they’re not confined to any daypart. Offers include breakfast styles, too, like breakfast burritos, as well as GATE’s sausage, egg, cheese and potato empanada, in addition to chicken and beef options.
“GATE is continually evolving its foodservice offerings to satisfy our customers’ tastes and provide the on-the-go options they need,” said Wilson.
Temple, Texas-based CEFCO Convenience Stores, with more than 200 stores in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Florida, offers a variety of tacos and burritos, all of which are made to order using fresh ingredients.
CEFCO Director of Foodservice Jeff Foley pointed to the Steak Fajita Burrito as a customer favorite, featuring marinated steak paired with freshly prepared pico de gallo, lettuce, rice, black beans and shredded cheddar cheese with a side of guacamole. The hand-breaded fresh chicken, offered with a variety of sides and sauces, is another popular offer, he said.
CEFCO recently launched new self-ordering kiosks in two of its Texas-based CEFCO Kitchen locations. Both stores feature CEFCO Kitchen’s new menu lines, including made-to-order mac and cheese bowls, sandwiches, grilled cheese and new breakfast offerings to complement the current lineup of burritos, tacos, fried chicken and more.
“We expect self-ordering kiosks to positively impact the customer experience at CEFCO by offering our customers’ favorite foods they’ve grown to love in a customizable format,” Foley said.
Extras like sauces and toppings, too, enable customers to make an order their own.
“We offer over 20 toppings and sauces for our burritos and tacos,” said Foley. “Some of our favorites are the Spicy Guacamole Salsa, Jalapeño Corn Salsa, Chipotle Ranch, Mild to Hot Buffalo sauces, Cholula, sour cream, guacamole and many more.”
At GATE, popular condiments for customers to pair with the chain’s Hispanic food offerings and more include jalapeños, pico de gallo, salsa and onion, said Wilson. “GATE also offers a variety of sauces, queso, jalapeño cheese and chili.”
“Consumers love customization,” confirmed Datassential Trendologist Mike Kostyo. “In fact, customization is a real area of opportunity for c-stores.”
When Datassential asked consumers about various trends they were interested in when visiting their local c-store, customizable options rose toward the top, with over half of consumers (51%) noting they were interested in customizable burritos and tacos. Yet, according to Datassential, only 14% of c-stores offer these items.
“Overall, 66% of c-store consumers say customization motivates them to visit a c-store over a competing foodservice location,” said Kostyo. “In many ways, customization gives consumers that freshness cue they are looking for in c-store because they know it has to be at least partially made from scratch, often right in front of them.”
Ultimately, Foley said, he sees personalization as “the future of the c-store industry.”
“Customers are hyper-aware of what they are eating now more than ever,” he said, “and this gives each customer the ability to choose exactly what goes on his or her food. Some customers like loading their burritos with veggies, while others prefer additional meat. Giving customers the ability to choose is what makes this program great and will continue shaping the future of CEFCO foodservice.”