Convenience Store Cuisine: Chips And Hot Dogs Don’t Cut It

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- There was a time, if you stopped for a snack at a convenience store, you might pick up some chips, a hot dog or a container of beef jerky.  Well, that doesn't cut it anymore.

Convenience stores are stepping up their game when it comes to food.

“We really want to be a destination for food," said Quik Trip Corporate Chef, Nick Powell.

Quik Trip is now offering gourmet sandwiches, specialty drinks and made to order flatbread.

"Chicken bacon ranch is our most popular," said Powell, while touching a screen that allows customers to select toppings and then sends the order directly to the kitchen.

"I started out in catering and then I went to culinary school," explained Powell.  "I worked at a few restaurants and then I went into research and development."

Powell has helped devise Quik Trip's new menu.  He says there's a trend toward healthier items, like the made to order smoothies, which come in three flavors.  For a little extra, you can add an "enhancer," like protein powder.

But Powell acknowledged, "We want to sell what sells."  And what really sells are things like made to order gourmet sandwiches and pizzas, which will be out of the oven before you're done pumping your gas.

Quik Trip has the pizza making process down to a science.  For the breakfast pizza, the pre-made dough is topped with sausage gravy, cheese, more sausage, egg and bacon.  The 500-degree convection oven bakes it in less than three minutes.

Chef Powell doesn't talk about the amount of fat or calories in the pizza.  Consumer testing proves, if it tastes good, people will buy it regardless of how much it might sabotage their diet.

For instance, you won't find the matcha green tea shake on Quik Trip's new menu.

"It did not make the cut," said Powell smiling.  "It's a very unique flavor."

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