PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Neon Marketplace is a new prototype that aims to dynamically change the perception of convenience stores by delivering premium food in a technology-driven atmosphere.
Based in Providence, the budding chain with four locations in Rhode Island and Massachusetts takes fresh food — its primary core competency — very seriously, especially the word “fresh.”
“The word ‘fresh’ is somewhat bastardized in this channel,” said Elise Babey, senior manager of product development at Neon Marketplace. “Our ‘fresh’ vs. someone else’s, there’s a big difference. And I’ve made it my goal to let the food do the talking.”
In fact, Neon Marketplace could be considered a multifaceted quick-service restaurant (QSR), according to Babey, who cited its brick oven pizza program, made-to-order kitchen, sandwich program, hot express breakfast program, and “robust” barista program featuring customized espresso drinks and bean-to-cup coffee.
“We take the concept and model of a quick-service restaurant, but we’re four of them — all-encompassing — under a food and energy marketplace,” she said.
Neon Marketplace currently operates two full-concept stores, which opened in December of last year and January of this year, one in Rhode Island and the other in Massachusetts. There are also two Neon Marketplace Express stores, both in Rhode Island, which launched the brand in 2020, but don’t offer pizza or the premium café.
Neon Marketplace can’t “harp enough on quality, quality, quality,” according to Babey. “We put it at the top of everything,” she said, along with taste.
To emphasize this point, she discussed the differences between Neon Marketplace’s English muffin breakfast sandwich vs. other c-stores. “We source the highest-quality bacon, and our English muffins are baked fresh daily through a partnership with a local bakery distributor. We cook the English muffin and the egg protein separately; we don’t pop it into a TurboChef. Then, we assemble it. All that just for a little English muffin sandwich,” she said.