Convenience store chain 7-Eleven opened a concept store this month in Dallas featuring a fast-casual taco restaurant, bar and other decidedly restaurant-like amenities.
The move has its roots in 7-Eleven’s acquisition early last year of the Stripes convenience store chain, known for its Laredo Taco Company concept. That restaurant, with its housemade tortillas, had gained a loyal following, even earning a visit from the likes of Anthony Bourdain on one of his last trips through West Texas.
“The 7-Eleven lab is an experiential testing ground where customers can try and buy our latest innovations in a revolutionary new store format,” a 7-Eleven spokesperson told CSP Daily News. “7-Eleven plans to open other lab stores in geographically dispersed markets across the United States. We will study sales results, shopping trends and customer feedback to help determine the innovations that could launch in other stores around the country.”
Here’s a look inside the first of several 7-Eleven lab stores that will serve as launching pads for new ideas.
New menu additions
The retailer is piloting an expanded Laredo Taco Company menu in the store. Customers can try new signature entrees and sides. Additionally, 7-Eleven is also deploying a new Street Taco menu with seven meat choices served on corn tortillas. The fast-casual restaurant has also added three new salsas, including Chile de Arbol, Habanero and Cilantro Verde.
The Dallas concept is the first 7-Eleven store to feature made-to-order coffee drinks, cold-pressed juices and aguas frescas. The beverage lineup offers customizable drinks in a full-service beverage format. Customers can also grab drinks on tap, such as nitro cold brew, kombucha and organic teas.
The store showcases an expanded alcohol section called The Cellar. The alcove merchandises wines and craft beers and leads customers to a growler station. Customers can get local 64-ounce beers and ciders packaged to go or sip libations at the bar seating at the front windows or Laredo Taco Company’s indoor and patio seating.
Frictionless payment options
As more Amazon Go and other frictionless retail concepts sprout up around the country, the lab gives 7-Eleven the opportunity to test Scan & Pay technology. Customers can make non-age restricted purchases directly by scanning products with their smartphones.
This technology is deployed at the c-store’s Sweet and Cold Treats Bar, which invites customers to choose between frozen yogurt or ice cream and customize with an assortment of sweet and savory toppings. Near where shoppers select their cup or cone, the store has posted QR codes that they can scan to pay for their items.