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SAN ANTONIO — It’s been less than a month since Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes officially became part of the CST Brands Inc. and CrossAmerica Partners LP family, but already some of Nice N Easy’s ways are rubbing off on its new owners.
Kim Lubel, chairman, CEO and president of San Antonio-based CST Brands, shared with CSNews Online that four of its Corner Store convenience stores in the San Antonio market are currently testing a heavier grocery mix, similar to what customers now find in a Nice N Easy store.
“With acquisitions, we can tap into the talent there. We get that rich knowledge base,” Lubel said.
Nice N Easy, which operates 77 corporate and franchise stores in central New York State, has long been a grocery category leader in the convenience channel. As CSNews Online previously reported, the Canastota, N.Y.-based chain even has some stores that are designed as mini grocery stores.
At these stores, customers walk in, grab a cart and go up and down the aisles just like they would at a grocery store, even though all of the customers know Nice N Easy is a c-store company. Dairy, fresh produce, fresh meats, pet foods, paper products and cleaning supplies are just some of the items offered.
Foodservice, also a category where Nice N Easy stores shine, presents another knowledge- and talent-tapping opportunity for CST Brands.
Heading into 2015, Lubel said CST is trying to “crack the code” on what type of foodservice to offer in the 60 percent of its stores that cannot accommodate a full kitchen.
“We’re working on a central commissary/kitchen operation,” she shared.
The 40 percent of Corner Store locations equipped with kitchens prepare breakfast tacos with homemade tortillas, empanadas, whoopie pies, cookies, doughnuts, savory kolaches and other items in the chain’s signature food line, Fresh Choices. This fall, Corner Store introduced several new offerings made with authentic Hatch chiles, including a turkey puff pie filled with Hatch chiles and cheddar; and a kolache with Hatch chile sausage.
Nice N Easy corporate-owned stores, meanwhile, offer an array of items under its signature Easy Street Eatery program. The menu includes 14 varieties of appetizers, seven types of hot subs, a dozen different cold sandwiches and wraps, four varieties of fresh salads, a dozen sandwich melts, and more.