Convenience stores pose a growing threat to restaurants

Retail Watch: Technomic’s State of the Industry report sounds a c-store alarm, Grubhub expands grocery delivery and 7-Eleven completes its Laredo Taco Company acquisition.
C-store chain Buc-ee's is known for its robust foodservice program. | Photo: Shutterstock.
Retail Watch

Welcome to Retail Watch, a new Restaurant Business column highlighting news from convenience stores, grocers and other retailers that compete with restaurants.

Convenience stores are getting super-sized. And they’re trying to steal your restaurant business.

That was one of the messages from Joe Pawlak, managing principal of Technomic, in a state of the industry presentation at the recent Restaurant Leadership Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Pawlak noted the opening of a two-story, 8,200-square-foot QuikTrip c-store in Fort Worth, Texas,  late last year as one example. The store is heavily focused on prepared foods.

And fast-growing Buc-ee’s is known for opening stores that are more than 70,000 square feet, with more than 120 gas pumps and robust foodservice programs that draw drivers from around the country.

“Now we’re seeing a whole new evolution,” Pawlak told the crowd at RLC. “They’re going big.”

Buc-ee’s specializes in Texas barbeque, fudge, kolaches, jerky, fresh pastries and, of course, Beaver Nuggets, according a recent story in sister publication CSP Daily News. (I’ve never had a Beaver Nugget, but the internet tells me they are a “delectable puffy-yet-crunchy corn nugget with a brown sugar-caramel coating.”)

But wait. There’s more to give restaurant operators pause.

As Pawlak noted, Buc-ee’s pays its foodservice store managers between $175,000 and $225,000 per year.

Convenience stores, apparently, aren’t just trying to steal your customers. They’re trying to steal your employees.

Grubhub. It’s not just for restaurants anymore.

It seems like just yesterday when Grubhub was just a restaurant delivery platform.

But the third-party delivery platform is getting into the grocery business.

On Thursday, the Chicago-based company said it had partnered with Mercato, an online marketplace for independent grocers, to add more than 950 retailers to its offering.

“Grubhub started as a marketplace for independent restaurants, so it’s only fitting that as we expand into the grocery space, it’s first with a partner that works with independent grocers,” Craig Whitmer, Grubhub’s VP of new verticals, said in a statement.

7-Eleven now owns even more taco restaurants.

Convenience giant 7-Eleven recently completed its acquisition of 204 convenience stores from Sunoco LP, which includes Stripes c-stores and Laredo Taco Company quick-service restaurants, according to a report in CSP Daily News.

With the closing of the deal, 7-Eleven now owns all 600-plus Laredo Taco locations in the U.S.

Laredo Taco debuted in a 7-Eleven store in Dallas in March 2018.

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