Why QuikTrip Is Year’s Best Prepared Foods Innovator

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Why QuikTrip Is Year’s Best Prepared Foods Innovator

By Don Longo, Convenience Store News - 12/21/2015

TULSA, Okla. — QuikTrip Corp.’s creation and launch of its QT Kitchens program positions the Tulsa-based retailer as one of the best-in-class foodservice retailers in the convenience store industry. With more than 700 stores generating over $11 billion in revenue across 11 states, QuikTrip is becoming a major factor in improving the perception of fresh foodservice in the c-store industry.

For this reason, Convenience Store News’ Foodservice Innovators Awards judges selected QuikTrip as the Best Prepared Foods Innovator for 2015.

Presented in partnership with Tyson Convenience, the fourth-annual Foodservice Innovators Awards recognize convenience retail chains who are raising the bar on quality, service and innovation in this fast-growing and critically important product category for c-stores. Winners are chosen by CSNews’ How To Crew panel of foodservice experts from the retailer, supplier, research and consulting fields.

QuikTrip is no stranger to the awards program. The retailer was the Best Cold & Frozen Beverages Innovator in 2012, the Best Hot Beverages Innovator in 2013, and was the silver medal winner in both the Cold & Frozen Beverages and Best New Program categories last year.

At the beginning of this year, QuikTrip rolled out its highly-praised, fresh, made-to-order food and beverage concept — QT Kitchens — to more than 90 percent of its stores nationwide.

“The complete change from their previous foodservice program to the more fresh-made with touchscreen ordering Kitchens program is difficult to achieve, especially for a chain their size,” commented How To Crew member Jerry Weiner, a long-time industry foodservice guru who recently retired from Pennsylvania convenience store chain Rutter’s Farm Stores.

QuikTrip CEO Chet Cadieux, in a recent interview with CSNews, acknowledged how proud he is of having installed the QT Kitchens concept in almost every store. “Of course, that necessitated us hiring a lot of people to run those kitchens, which created a 30-percent increase in employee count companywide,” he said. QuikTrip has more than 18,600 employees. “And, of course, we had to train all those newbies as well as our existing employees on how to run those kitchens. To get all of that done in just one year was a real biggie for us.”

QT Kitchens was created in 2006 when the retailer realized it needed to do something to offset the decline of two of the industry’s biggest categories: gasoline and cigarettes. “We always thought we were pretty good at selling gasoline and convenience store items,” said Cadieux. “Over time, our goal is to be as good at selling fresh food as we are at other items.”

As noted by How To Crew member Maurice Minno of the MPM Group, QT innovated its operational systems so that it could use made-to-order customer service as the basis for the new food and drink products. This new offer includes made-to-order breakfast pizza, pizza for lunch and dinner, toasted sandwiches, flatbread sandwiches, kolaches and fresh-baked pretzels, among other items.

“QT, which has been known in the past for foodservice innovation, has clearly stepped up its game with its QT Kitchens concept that focuses on fresh, made-to-order, innovative products,” said Minno.

For more on QuikTrip and the other 2015 Foodservice Innovator Awards winners, check out our specially created Foodservice Innovators Awards microsite at http://foodserviceinnovators.csnews.com.