"May I help the next customer?" That was the constant refrain heard inside the Quick Chek store on 53rd Street in Bayonne, N.J. when Convenience Store News visited in late June. Opened less than a year, the location has quickly become the go-to convenience store for area residents, workers and travelers â as evidenced by the constant flow of customers.
As the clock struck noon on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon, parking spaces did not remain empty for long as the lunch rush officially rolled in. But even as construction workers, mothers with their children and teenage girls dressed for a day at the pool streamed to the order kiosks for one of Quick Chek's famous $2.99 subs, the crowd never seemed overwhelming thanks in part to the employees who work like a well-oiled machine.
Leading that machine is store manager Angelo Perito. Born in Italy, he moved to the United States when he was 5 years old. As he grew up, he toiled in landscaping and construction, but knew he wanted something more. "Going forward, [construction] was too much," he said. "I knew I couldn't do that for the rest of my life."
Upon the suggestion of his sister-in-law, who was a Quick Chek employee, Perito applied to the company and found not only a job, but a career. He said there are a lot of opportunities at Quick Chek â both in the stores and at the corporate level â and he is looking forward to growing with the c-store chain. However, he admitted he is not done at the 53rd Street store yet.
"I am looking for another two years," he said. "There is still a lot to do."
The North Bergen, N.J., resident began as an assistant store manager at a Quick Chek in Fanwood, N.J., in March 2004. He hopped around the next year between the Fanwood location and one in nearby Garwood. He then settled in as a store manager at the River Road store in Piscataway, N.J., down the road from a nationally known university. That store, according to the company, is one of the most prominent foodservice stores in the chain.
"I was there for two years and it was a very busy store near Rutgers University," he said
After leading the Piscataway store, Perito was given the keys to Quick Chek's newest Bayonne location when it opened about 10 months ago. The 53rd Street location joins two others in the Hudson County city: one on 12th Street and the other on 38th Street. Perito's is the largest store and has the highest-performing food-service in the Bayonne market, further demonstrating the company's commitment to fresh convenience.
A typical day begins at 6:30 a.m. with Perito touching base with his employees, which total 38 between inside and forecourt staff. Between 7 and 9 a.m., it's "all hands-on customer service," he said, adding that during the morning rush, every employee including himself jumps in where needed â whether it's the register, foodservice area or coffee bar.
When the rush dies down around 9:30 a.m., Perito makes time for back-office work like counting deposits. But then 30 minutes later, he is back on the floor helping his employees get the store back in shape after the morning's craziness. This includes cleaning up, touching up and restocking the foodservice area, the coffee bar and the front registers.
During the lulls of the day, Perito handles more of the managerial duties such as employee scheduling and communications with corporate. But finding a lull on the day CSNews visited was a challenge considering it was Wednesday, the day the store gets its two biggest shipments of the week from McLane Co. and Performance Foodservice-AFI.
"It is a day the manager has to hustle a little because we try not to leave anything for the second shift. We want to free them up to be on the floor," Perito explained.
"Susan, AFI is here," the employees chime in unison, letting out a little cheer. That's good news for Susan Moscatiello, foodservice manager. She has held that title with Quick Chek for three years and joined Perito in opening the 53rd Street store. She has been with the retailer for five years, joining soon after layoffs hit the hospital where she previously worked.
"It keeps me busy," she said. "I can't stay in one spot and there is always something to do."
That may be an understatement in a store where foodservice (along with dispensed drinks) accounts for a third of inside sales. "Foodservice is growing every day," Moscatiello explained, adding that the $2.99 subs are big sellers.
And surprisingly, she said, the soup continues to be popular even in the hot New Jersey summer months. "Soup is a big seller. Even in the summertime, we do about $300 [of sales] a day."
As the day continues, you get the sense that it's not just the subs, soup or coffee that is drawing loyal customers on a day-in, day-out basis. It also has to do with the employees themselves. Customer service is not just a buzz word as employees greet customers they recognize and welcome those they don't. For example, Nina, a Quick Chek employee since 2008, comments to one man that she hasn't seen him in a while. Turns out there is a good reason: he moved to Florida and still comes to the store when he is in town.
That speaks volumes about Quick Chek customers' loyalty.
"Quick Chek goes the extra mile for you and the company is not going anywhere," Perito noted. "If you really want to succeed, they give you the tools. I'm proof."