7-Eleven Finds Hot-Food Fans in Nation's Capital

WASHINGTON, D.C. — 7-Eleven Inc. is building up a presence here as its popularity in the market grows, but customers are coming for more than traditional convenience store staples. They are coming for a hot meal.

According to The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., is the retailer's top market when it comes to hot food. The interest in its hot offerings is driving the c-store chain to take up more real estate in the nation's capital.

Among the top sellers in the market are pizza (both whole and slices), chicken wings, mini tacos, sandwiches and 7-Eleven's Big Bite hot dogs. Other grab-and-go foods like bakery items — mostly doughnuts and muffins — along with soft drinks and coffee are also bigger sellers in Washington, D.C., compared with other urban areas, the newspaper reported.

At area stores, signs outside promote Big Bite hot dogs or a variety of "melt" sandwiches. A number of local stores also place hot food displays on the key counter spot next to the register.

"They're going after a select component of items that people need daily, convenience items. Mostly food," Henry Fonvielle, president of McLean-based real estate developer the Rappaport Cos., told the newspaper.

He said that while traditional grocery stores are now battling Wal-Mart, Target, CVS Health and other companies over grocery sales, 7-Eleven has doubled down on prepared foods, particularly in markets like Washington, D.C.

"There's a lot more food in each 7-Eleven store," he said, "and they're doing a pretty good job with quick service."

7-Eleven officials said the hot food sales are indicative of a large number of singles, young people and people who are busy and don't always have time to cook. The chain has 433 stores open or under construction in the area, including 45 in D.C. proper, and it added 16 in the area last year alone.

As people keep ordering those mini tacos and hot dogs, Margaret Chabris, 7-Eleven spokeswoman, told the newspaper: "We'll continue to be on that pace of about 15 to 20 stores for the next three to five years."

Dallas-based 7-Eleven operates, franchises and/or licenses approximately 10,500 7-Eleven stores in North America.

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