Spanning an impressive 22,000 square feet, the new Slovacek?s in West, Texas ? located 77 miles from Dallas ? is much more than your run-of-the-mill pit stop. A dog park, drive-thru and gift shop are just a few of the unique features found at the sausage company turned convenience store retailer?s second location.
This one-of-a-kind store, which opened Dec. 8, comes nearly two decades after the first Slovacek?s store debuted in Snook, Texas, approximately 100 miles from Houston. The company got its start in 1957 when ?Uncle John? Slovacek founded Slovacek Sausage Co. in Snook. In 1995, current owner Tim Rabroker took over and decided to open a retail shop adjacent to the company?s headquarters.
?Our strategy is slow and meticulous,? Rabroker said, explaining that he pursued the new store in West as an opportunity to further build the Slovacek?s brand. He initially sought a smaller downtown location, but the thought process soon became: ?[Go for] gold or go for broke.?
?We thought if we were going to do something, we were going to go all the way. It?s just the way we do things,? he told Convenience Store News. ?In today?s atmosphere, I think you have to have several niches, and customers are responding positively [to our niches].?
Slovacek?s West is located next to a Best Western hotel off Interstate 35 in a predominantly Czech and German area. About 60 percent of the store?s customers are travelers and 40 percent are locals, according to Rabroker. ?More than 12,000 vehicles a day pass through West, and we have a strong local base [that extends] more than a 20- to 30-mile radius,? he noted.
The building was originally 14,000 square feet and home to a restaurant with an attached meat market. Rabroker partnered with design firm Paragon Solutions Inc., out of Fort Worth, Texas, and added another roughly 8,000 square feet to the existing operation. The remodel took 17 months to complete from the time he began talking about purchasing the property.
In the middle of construction, the town of West was rocked by an explosion at a local fertilizer plant that killed 15 and injured hundreds more. Rabroker said the store?s construction was not affected by the blast, but the project was temporarily shut down so that the Slovacek?s team could assist with the relief effort.
Now open 24 hours a day, Slovacek?s West offers such distinctive services as:
- The Kissing Pig Café: This full-service, made-to-order deli features sandwiches, Paninis and wraps prepared by a gourmet chef.
- Meat market: A full-scale meat counter is always full of fresh-cut beef, chicken, pork, cured sausage and other premium meats.
- Dog park: Situated behind the store, the dog park is an expansive pet area designed for dogs of all sizes to run freely in a fenced area and play on a state-of-the-art jungle gym.
- Fresh-baked goods: The bakery offers an array of fresh pastries, desserts and breads, including muffins, cookies and Czech-style kolaches, all handmade in the store.
- Laura Belle?s Frozen Yogurt: This frozen yogurt station offers many flavor options and more than 14 toppings, including seasonal, hand-cut fruit, granola and nuts.
- Drive-thru: Especially convenient for travelers, most items from The Kissing Pig Café and bakery are available for purchase at the drive-thru.
- Gift shop: A wide variety of novelty items are available for purchase, from company-made fruit preserves to sweaters and shirts.
As a regional brand, Slovacek?s maintains a deep devotion to community, but according to Rabroker, the West location should be the last convenience store for the sausage empire.
?I came from a family business and that?s what I wanted Slovacek?s to be. We want people to feel like family, whether it?s family or not,? he concluded.