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SAN DIEGO -- San Diego is the first West Coast region to take part in 7-Eleven's revamp of its foodservice program, which has been moving forward since early 2012, reports the Union-Tribune of San Diego. The addition of hot food cases that contain products such as pizza, tacos and taquitos, along with the expansion of existing coffee bars, is meant to help the Dallas-based convenience store chain become known for quick meals.
"It's not every day that you have the opportunity to make a 'new' first impression, and we are taking the opportunity to do just that," Tom Lesser, company zone leader in San Diego, Arizona and Las Vegas, told the news outlet. "With the across-the-store remodels, great new products like pizza and wings, and staff members enthusiastic about all the improvements, we believe the entire shopping experience is improved."
7-Eleven plans to open 12 new stores in the San Diego region this year, and 18 or more in future years. The market is viewed as a favorable one due to its population density and projected population growth, the ratio of population to c-stores, a positive economic outlook and favorable weather, recreation and outdoor activities, according to the report.
San Diego stores that received the foodservice program update worked on renovations mainly at nighttime. Changes also include interior decoration upgrades, such as new walls, floors, ceilings, lighting and fixtures, as well as some exterior fixes such as parking lot resurfacing. Changes to equipment include refrigerated display cases with wheels that push products forward when a customer takes out a bottle, and enhanced LED lighting to make items stand out.
Customers can choose from a variety of new hot foods, primarily fried and seasoned, and lower-calorie selections in the stores' refrigerated cases. New items in the San Diego market include four shredded beef mini-tacos for $1, slices of cheese or pepperoni pizza, and jalapeño cream cheese taquitos, all for $1 each, according to the report. Turbochef ovens cook the hot foods, which are then held in glass-window hot cases.
Coffee is also a major focus of the changes. "We sell more cups of coffee than anything else throughout our store," said Lesser. "Our research shows that our customers want high quality coffee, any time of the day. They want more elbow room. And they want to make it just their way."
7-Eleven's current self-service coffee bars will be expanded and feature extra space for sweeteners and creamers. Instead of pot warmers, revamped stores will brew coffee at special stations that hold it for up to two hours in thermal servers. These keep the temperature constant and protect the coffee from exposure to outside air. Digital displays allow employees to keep an eye on how full the servers are and when to discard old coffee.
"It's all about freshness and quality: Air and heat are the enemies of quality," Lesser noted.
San Diego-region stores have reported positive reactions to the changes, especially to the hot food additions. "Our guests especially love the four-for-a-dollar mini tacos and hot pizza," Bea Virk, co-owner of three area franchises, told the news outlet. "It's even hard for me not to eat the cheese pizza when it's hot and smells so good."