RaceWay Fine-Tunes Its Design

ATLANTA -- RaceTrac Petroleum Corp.'s RaceWay division rolled out its first new prototype in 2009, featuring a larger footprint, more cooler doors and an expanded foodservice area. The division, which focuses on the company's contractor-operated convenience stores vs. its RaceTrac company-operated stores, then reached out to its franchisee operators for feedback and decided to make a few more adjustments to accommodate new foodservice programs and better meet the demands of being a one-stop shop.

In 2011, RaceWay opened seven stores featuring its new design, and the chain will add 20 more prototype stores this year. The division, which has approximately 290 c-stores across 12 states in the Southeast, is also retrofitting some existing buildings with features taken from the new prototype as well.

"Seeking this kind of feedback from our operators follows our mission: 'to build long-term mutually beneficial relationships with outstanding operators,'" Justen Giambalvo, director of RaceWay operations, told CSNews Online.

The retailer's latest design includes changes to both the exterior and interior compared to the original 2009 prototype. On the exterior, the company chose a center tower design with a larger soffit in order to direct a customer's attention to the front doors of the store. For the same purpose, the design also incorporates new front windows. This draws attention to interior signage, while also allowing for more natural light, according to Giambalvo.

"Our goal on the exterior was to make the building stand apart from the canopy," he explained. "We wanted to create a classic look for the building that would stand the test of time."

Materials used for the exterior façade include brick, stone and an exterior insulation finishing system (EIFS). The use of both brick and stone offer different textures to "create a warm feel, telling our customers visually that 'this isn't your average convenience store,'" Giambalvo noted.

For the interior, the company added a beer cave, a flexible foodservice area, larger coffee and fountain areas, expanded restrooms and a larger back room. The main goal was to use the feedback received from the operators to create an attractive and efficient overall layout, he said.

"We wanted the inside to be inviting to the customers and have all the features necessary for our operators' success," he added. "We wanted to create an environment where customers can navigate the store easily and find the items they need quickly."

Ceramic tile flooring is featured throughout, and LED lights were installed in the coolers. In the coffee and fountain area, 12 feet of millwork was added to allow operators the needed space for the latest coffees, teas and other fountain offerings. Additionally, the deli or foodservice area is now near the center of the store -- in close proximity to the checkout -- so operators can maximize labor and make food the "centerpiece of the store," Giambalvo said.

Adding the beer cave to the new design was also based on operator feedback. They wanted the ability to expand specialty beer in the cooler, while also bulk-buying cases for the cave, Giambalvo said. This allows operators to provide their customers with the best selection and pricing possible.