While fast-casual upstarts try to win customers with promises of higher quality, convenience stores are sharpening their appeal to consumers who want decent grab-and-go at a sweet price. That pressure from below could be amped by recent moves from c-store innovators, including the market’s Big Kahuna.
Here’s a look at those new attempts to eat quick-service restaurants’ lunch.
Thorntons’ fast-food kitchen
The 184-unit Thorntons chain is equipping new stores with a kitchen that can produce breakfast, lunch and snack items, a departure from c-stores’ usual dependence on commissaries and microwaves. It’s now rolling the QSR-in-a-store concept into the Chicago market.
The breakfast menu includes many of the morning standards: egg-based sandwiches made with a biscuit or croissant, as well as a wrap. Burgers and pizzas are prepared at lunch, and the snack selections include a soft pretzel.
A bakery display case is also featured.
The regional Parker’s chain has opened a c-store with indoor restaurant seating and a drive-thru window just for products included on the extensive QSR-like menu.
The outlet also gives the QSR model a twist with features like a breakfast bar.
The menu extends to fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and deli sandwiches.
The c-store/restaurant hybrid, located in Claxton, Ga., is Parker’s 43rd unit.
Breakfast taunts from 7-Eleven
The king of the convenience sector has added two premium sandwiches to its line of all-day breakfast options, all but making cracks about QSR execs’ mothers in the process.
“While some food outlets are just now realizing the importance of offering all-day breakfast, 7-Eleven has long offered its fresh foods—and every product—morning, noon and night,” said Nancy Smith, 7-Eleven's senior vice president of fresh food and proprietary beverage merchandising.
She didn’t mention McDonald’s by name in announcing the new products, but noted that they’re made with ciabatta, not a ho-hum English muffin, the foundation of the Egg McMuffin. She also noted the sandwiches are made with smoked cheddar cheese, not American cheese.
Two versions are offered: bacon, egg and cheese, featuring thick-cut bacon; and maple sausage, egg and cheese. Both sell for about $2.99.