by Sudie Crouch/contributing writer
When customers stop in at Weigel’s, they now can fill up on more than just gas.
Earlier this year, Weigel’s introduced quick-service foodservice in five of its locations, offering expanded made-to-order food and beverage offerings. The new concept, called Weigel’s Kitchens, features a menu with made-at-location items like paninis, pizzas, burgers and quesadillas.
Customers place their orders at the touchscreen kiosk, where they get a ticket confirming their order. Then, they either can wait and watch their order as it’s made in the open kitchen area or they can finish up other shopping and check out. Everything is made to order on-site, giving the feel of a quick-service restaurant with convenience store access.
A dedicated kiosk also is available for specialty espresso drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, along with fruit and yogurt smoothies.
According to Weigel’s director of marketing, Charlotte Havely, breakfast was where Weigel’s developed the core of its foodservice offerings, and it continues to grow steadily.
“We have customers that stop into our stores every morning, just for our hot and fresh breakfast biscuits. Our breakfast biscuits have definitely become a regular morning destination in our market,” Havely said.
With breakfast being the busiest daypart for the new Kitchens, the menu expanded to include breakfast paninis and breakfast pizzas.
Building on the popularity of breakfast, Weigel’s expanded its foodservice into lunchtime.
“We have offerings in all dayparts, even though it has traditionally been difficult for convenience stores to get into the evening and snack dayparts. With the addition of all these new foodservice items, and our Kitchens program, we have seen growth in all dayparts,” Havely explained. “We are on trend with customers coming to us for fresh, quick and easy meal options, at a great value. And with our heroic customer service standard, we make coming to us easy.”
To ensure great customer service, the foodservice associates are locals with a passion for food. They also go through rigorous training.
“We hire for that great customer-service, people-focused attitude, and then we train the rest. Each Kitchens associate goes through a series of training classes with our on-staff foodservice experts,” Havely said. “Our training program includes food safety as well as hands-on food preparation. With our friendly staff taking care of people, our guest always wins.”
Weigel’s has 63 stores. Fifty of the locations offer foodservice, and five currently feature the new Weigel’s Kitchen concept.
Havely added, “As we move forward, every store we build or remodel will have foodservice in it, as our passion for ‘fresh’ is in the heart of our company’s culture. We also have our own dairy and bakery, so fresh and local is in our DNA.”
Weigel’s stores are all located within a 50-mile radius of company headquarters in Powell, Tennessee, near Knoxville.
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