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C-Store Retailers Get Hot for Summer

More than 50 retailers either opened new Hot Stuff Pizza units or upgraded existing units during the month of May, the company reported.

“The Memorial Day weekend was a great way to both conclude a successful May as well as kick off what we expect to be a very successful summer,” said Des Hague, president and CEO of Hot Stuff Foods. Hague noted that the May figures bring the total number of new store openings since the beginning of the year close to 150, in addition to nearly 150 upgrades in the same time period.

Hague noted that the company's year-to-date performance is ahead of both last year's numbers and Hot Stuff's 2005 plan. He says several “hot” initiatives are keeping momentum strong, including new summer promotions, pilot programs and operational support to make sure Hot Stuff Foods franchisees are always positioned to provide customers with “24/7 food solutions.”

Chains that opened or upgraded Hot Stuff units in May included 7-Eleven, am/pm, Chevron, Circle K, Flash Market and Quik Chek.

Looking East
Hot Stuff has also added Asian fare to its food solutions initiative. According to Hague, the company's new XXL Chinese Rollz are one of the hottest items on the new summer menu. The new product comes in three varieties (orange chicken, pepper steak and teriyaki chicken) with a suggested retail of $1.99.

“The average daily sales of Our XXL Chinese Rollz have already surpassed last year's record selling pilot -- The XXL Taquito,” reported Hague. “ As a matter of fact, most retailers are offering both and are telling us they've seen no cannibalization of neither Hot Stuff pizza nor XXL Taquito rings.”

Hague admitted that a few longtime Hot Stuff Foods franchisees were a little hesitant to sign up for the pilot, but are now some of the programs biggest proponents.

Roland (Butch) Harris admitted he was a little skeptical, but said the XXL Chinese Rollz “have been a pleasant surprise.” Harris, who operates GOCO stores in Southern Alabama, has reported increasing sales, especially with the teriyaki chicken and pepper steak.

Jodi Laird, a store manager for Oklahoma-based Hop & Sack, has added over $200 a week in sales with XXL Chinese Rollz. “I tell my customers, try it. If you don't like it, I'll pay for it,” Laird said. “I've never had to pay for one yet.” Laird also added that part of her success is knowing what her customers like. She said she knew right away that the pepper steak would be the most popular of the new item in her store. “My old cowboys [a term of endearment Laird has for her customers who work at nearby ranches] said, 'This is really got the beef in it!' They're steak people,” Laird affirmed. Laird said she can break down the taste preferences of her diverse customer base: “My older customers will generally prefer the orange chicken and a lot of my travelers [Laird's Hop & Sack store is located by a main highway] like the teriyaki chicken.”

Elvena Charlton, foodservice manager for Bayfield Shell Truck & Auto Stop, noted the product has been a success from day one. “Our customers, many of them repeat, like the variety, quality and portability of this product. We are selling an average of 15 per day and have not seen any negative impact on our XXL Taquito sales. As a matter of fact, we are adding the new Spicy Nacho Beef XXL Taquito to our menu.”

Hot Stuff Foods franchises and/or licenses its branded food concepts in more than 1,600 locations throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. Hot Stuff Foods offers a number of individual and bundled brands in various categories, including Hot Stuff Pizza, Hot Stuff Food On the Go, Hot Stuff Food Xpress, Smash Hit Subs, Summit Subs, C-Street Bakery, Mean Gene's Burgers, Mean Gene's Pizza, Stone Willy's Pizza, Moose Bros. Pizza, Eddie Pepper's, Asian Creations, Chix Chicken, Nap Hendrix's Southern Grill and Caffé Origins Coffee.

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