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RICHMOND, Va. -- Uppy's Convenience Stores recently added Dominic's of New York to a new store being built in western Henrico County, Va., with a Dominic's of New York Pronto Cafe opening last week inside an Uppy's On the Run Exxon station.
The collaboration was unexpected for John Felico, president of FoodNet
Franchising, the Henrico County-based owner of the Dominic's food eateries, which specializes in Italian sausage.
"It just wasn't the type of environment I saw us being in," Felico told the Times Dispatch, noting most Dominic's locations are kiosk carts in front of Lowe's home-improvement stores.
But he changed his mind when he got a call from Steven Uphoff, owner of the Uppy's chain. Felico liked the Uppy's operation, and decided to give the convenience store arena a try. "It is hard to take your concept that people are used to seeing in a specific venue and convert it to another venue and tweak it, but that's what we are doing. It is working," Felico told the newspaper.
Uphoff said he is pleased with having Dominic's inside one of his stores.
"They are such a high-quality branded product and they care about the value they present to the customer," he told the Times Dispatch.
Operating Dominic's cafes inside the Pentagon and some office buildings in Pennsylvania has helped the company transition to a convenience store setting, Felico said.
One difference is those cafes have seating, while The Pronto Cafe
concept does not. Also, the cafe menu is greatly expanded and different from what is offered at the kiosks. The Pronto Cafe sells paninis, wrap sandwiches, hamburgers and wings in addition to signature Italian sausage sandwiches. It also has made-to-order salads and breakfast items.
Dominic's similar operation at the Pentagon serves about 500
lunchtime customers in 1.5 hours.
If the c-store concept works, Felico and Uphoff plan on putting more Pronto Cafes in about 20 Uppy's current locations and in all five new locations, planned for early 2008. Dominic's has an arrangement to operate inside convenience stores only in Uppy's in Virginia.
Uppy's has 38 locations, mostly in central Virginia. The chain has nine more locations in development in the Richmond area.