CSN EXCLUSIVE: Murphy USA Invests in Foodservice Success

The convenience retailer is adding to its team and taking a people-first approach to the category.
Angela Hanson

EL DORADO, Ark. — When Murphy USA Inc. acquired QuickChek Corp. in 2021, it was no secret that the Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based chain's established, high-quality food and beverage program was part of the appeal. Three years in, Murphy USA is embracing a foodservice category strategy that makes the most of both brands' strengths.

The company's current foodservice identity is based on the three pillars of value, quality and convenience, according to Daniel Haskell, vice president and head of food and beverage at Murphy USA.

"Food and beverage is a very intentional focus for us as a company," Haskell told Convenience Store News. He made it clear that while Murphy USA's offering is still a work in progress, consumers can look forward to innovation and enhancements that match the company's core values. 

"We are always an organization that prides itself on being self-aware and humble, and knowing our customers and engaging with them where they are and what they need. Whether that's breakfast, lunch and eventually into the later dayparts — dinner and overnight," he said.

[Read more: Murphy USA Sets Its Sights on 'More']

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Some positive effects of the integration of the QuickChek and Murphy USA foodservice teams are smaller but practical, such as rearranging the food and beverage areas in new Murphy USA stores to the benefit of both employees and customers.

"When we label the cabinets, where do the cups go? Where did the sandwiches go? How do we store things? The mindset has evolved, shifted in many ways and evolved to being more food and beverage-centric. Though we still have a lot of runway, we accept and embrace that," Haskell explained.

While the food and beverage offering at a Murphy USA store is relatively simplistic compared to the company's QuickChek stores, this could change over time.

"Who is the Murphy customer that we are catering to? We know who they are today, and I think they will evolve and therefore the offer will evolve," Haskell said. "But we don't have a specific intention to take a QuickChek and just drop it into a Murphy store tomorrow without really clearly understanding what that offer is and who that customer is."

The Building Blocks of Value

The company is currently growing its Murphy USA-QuickChek foodservice leadership team through multiple roles in specific areas, and the retailer wants to double down.

"I wouldn't say it's just about headcount. I'd say it's also about investment in food and beverage," Haskell noted. "When you think about efforts that we are making around our digital transformation effort, our operations, our production plan, how we put out product, when we put out product, where we put out product — that all needs to be supported."

QuickChek has seen positive results from its partnership with the New York Giants after just one season as the NFL team's official sub sandwich. Additionally, everything related to QuickChek's soups and warmer program have performed "exceptionally well," according to Haskell.

"Whether it's breakfast sandwiches in the mornings, burritos or empanadas, the snack category, the pretzel breads — it has been very, very successful over the last 12 months," he added.

For its efforts, Murphy USA-QuickChek was named the 2024 Foodservice Innovator to Watch as part of the 13th annual Convenience Store News Foodservice Innovators Awards program. The company is among nine other convenience retailers being honored in this year's program.

The convenience retailer's focus on production planning — balancing freshness with waste avoidance — is a major factor in the quality of its warm grab-and-go items. Haskell noted that this process has gotten much more sophisticated over the past year, allowing QuickChek customers to rest assured that snacks in the warming case have not been sitting there all day.

"It is fresh, it's made to go, it's convenience, it's value and that's why it's done well," he said.

Haskell credits the adaptability of store-level employees and their consistency in execution as being major contributors to the company's performance in recent years.

"The store team members that we have at QuickChek and Murphy USA have been really unbelievable when you think about the last couple of years, coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift [that occurred] in terms of readapting to the customer and their changing behavior," Haskell said. "We take a lot of pride in execution and operations and you see that, I hope, on both sides of the house."

At both Murphy USA and QuickChek stores, whether it involves grab-and-go or made-to-order food and beverages, the company has an "all about people" mindset as it focuses on the customer experience.

"That sometimes is taken for granted, but we've got such a strong team that truly cares," Haskell said. "So, folks that join us, whether they're in the field, in the stores or in the home office, the values don't change, the principles don't change and the customer mindset doesn't change."

El Dorado-based Murphy USA has more than 1,700 stores located primarily in the Southwest, Southeast, Midwest and Northeast United States. The company and its team of nearly 15,000 employees serve an estimated 2 million customers each day through its retail network in 27 states. The majority of Murphy USA's stores are located in close proximity to Walmart Supercenters. The company also markets gasoline and other products at standalone stores under the Murphy Express and QuickChek brands.

About the Author

Angela Hanson

Angela Hanson

Angela Hanson is Senior Editor of Convenience Store News. She joined the brand in 2011. Angela spearheads most of CSNews’ industry awards programs and authors numerous special news reports. In 2016, she took over the foodservice beat, a critical category for the c-store industry. 

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