Kangaroo Express’ Foodservice Legacy

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Plenty of news headlines were generated earlier this year when Concerned Pantry Shareholders (CPS), a group led by JCP Investment Management LLC and Lone Star Value Management LLC, were successful in getting three new directors voted onto The Pantry Inc.'s board.

One of CPS' major concerns is foodservice operations at Cary, N.C.-based The Pantry's 1,538 Kangaroo Express convenience stores. In several statements released before the board election, the activist group argued that The Pantry had acquired too many small-format locations over the past several years and many of its legacy stores were not large enough to bring in big foodservice dollars.

During a recent trip to Greensboro, CSNews Online visited a Kangaroo Express legacy location that was retrofitted to include foodservice last year. The convenience store and 16-pump gas station at 3101 Pleasant Garden Road opened in 1984, sits on a 3,200-square-foot lot and employs six workers.

The made-to-order foodservice operation was added in October 2013, followed by a menu refresh occurring this January. Although the foodservice operation is small, the store's manager LaTonya Lee said the customer response has been positive thus far.

According to Lee, the chicken wings -- available five for $2.99 -- are the biggest seller. "We even added the wings to our breakfast offer," she said. "We have people lining up as early as 6 a.m. to get them."

The Greensboro store also offers plenty of other made-to-order offerings depending on the daypart. CSNews Online visited the store in the morning and saw available sausage, biscuits, brown sugar cinnamon rolls and a Roo Pouch, a flour tortilla with sausage, egg and cheese inside.

According to Lee, prior to the January menu refresh, her location mostly offered plate lunches as its main foodservice staple. Since the changes were made, the c-store now serves primarily quick-service items, which are a big hit with its main customer base, English- and Spanish-speaking employees at the nearby United Parcel Service Inc., FedEx Corp. and a variety of construction firms.

"We've been very pleased. The customers are very pleased," said Lee. "The only thing we may want is a little broader menu in the future."

Kangaroo Express draws customers inside the Greensboro store with pumptoppers. Another significant source of marketing comes from word-of-mouth from a large residential community located next to the store. It's not uncommon for the complex's residents to walk to the store to pick up some items.  

While many of today's top convenience store chains are building large-format locations that encompass 4,000 square feet or larger, Kangaroo Express' Greensboro location is proof to its doubters that the chain's smaller legacy stores can provide foodservice profits.

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