LA CROSSE, Wis. — Kwik Trip Inc. is launching its line of take-home meals chainwide in response to changing consumer habits as a result of COVID-19.
The initial lineup features 12 options, such as chicken enchiladas and meatloaf that can be heated up quickly in a microwave, according to a WisBusiness report.
"It's our expectation that you're going to see a lot of restaurants not survive the pandemic," said John McHugh, director of communications at Kwik Trip. "We think that the consumer is going to be a little less inclined to go to a sit down restaurant for a meal. They're going to be worried about safety, social distancing, and yet, we know that there's a large percentage of consumers that … don't like to cook. Or there's a certain percentage of people that frankly don't know how to cook."
Take-home meals were previously available at approximately 40 stores. The convenience store retailer began offering the meals after opening a temporary test kitchen inside a former restaurant, as Convenience Store News previously reported. Kwik Trip's new kitchen facility in La Crosse opened Sept. 14.
According to McHugh, Kwik Trip is having its "best year ever" despite the pandemic. The line of take-home meals builds on Kwik Trip's habit of expanding into rural areas, particularly those without a nearby grocery store.
"We just think it's a community need," McHugh said. "Some of the small communities, you have an elderly population. They don't feel comfortable driving 35 minutes to the next biggest town for their groceries; they just don't. So if we can provide something that helps the social fabric of those small towns still exist, because a small town needs a grocery store, it needs a place where you can get the bread, eggs, milk, butter, steak. For the social fabric of Wisconsin, if we can keep small towns alive by our presence, that's a value for us."
Known as Kwik Trip in Minnesota and Wisconsin and as Kwik Star in Iowa, Kwik Trip operates more than 675 family-owned convenience stores.