C-Stores Adjust Foodservice in Face of COVID-19

Steps range from stopping roller grills to suspending self-serve coffee stations and soda fountains.

March 19, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—As coronavirus affects foodservice operations nationwide and government officials call for more “contactless experiences,” convenience retailers are working to ensure customer safety while continuing to provide services.

Kwik Trip, based in La Crosse, Wisconsin, alerted its Wisconsin customers through Twitter that it is discontinuing its self-serve food offerings until further notice. This includes its self-serve coffee and cappuccino bar, self-serve fountain sodas, rollers grills, bakery case, condiment bar, nacho/chili cheese machine and soup bar. Kwik Trip said the products still would be available via delivery in select markets, with delivery fees waived through the end of April. The c-store chain also said it would follow suit in its Minnesota and Iowa stores except for fountain sodas and coffee-related beverages.

“From everyone at Kwik Trip: Thank you for understanding, and thank you for your continued courtesy toward our coworkers. We’re all in this together,” Kwik Trip said in its social media post.

Kum & Go of Des Moines, Iowa, yesterday announced a similar move via Twitter. The c-store notified customers that it is stopping roller grills, self-serve bakery and refills of self-serve hot and cold beverages. It is replacing self-serve condiments with prepackaged individual portions, stopping food sampling and converting its self-serve pizza station to associate-served slices. The chain also has closed its in-store seating areas.

“Our number one priority is your health and safety,” Kum & Go said, calling the changes temporary.   

Yesterday, 7-Eleven, based in Irving, Texas, reminded consumers that it offers delivery to more than 30 million households through its 7NOW delivery app, which recently added a contactless delivery option so customers can instruct carriers to leave packages at the door. Like other companies, 7-Eleven said it is enhancing cleaning standards and procedures and staying updated on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).

Sheetz, the Altoona, Pennsylvania, chain, sent an online message to customers, letting them know of the company’s food and sanitation advisory board, which was formed to stay abreast of all health measures related to COVID-19. Sheetz is working closely with local health and government officials, as well as the CDC, and is following preventive measures, including additional cleaning on high-touch surfaces, ranging from door handles and tables to gas pumps.

And like most businesses, the c-store industry is asking customers and employees to remain at home if they are ill.

Cleaning practices across the board have been amped up. The CDC considers the coronavirus a respiratory virus and not a foodborne illness, but establishments are doing thorough cleanings on touch screens, push plates, railings, switches, counter tops and door handles. Food contact surfaces such as counters and tables are getting thorough wipe downs.

Meanwhile, full-service restaurants and QSRs are shifting from sit-down dining destinations to take-out foodservice operations. Nationwide chains such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Chick-fil-A, Tim Horton’s, Chipotle, KFC and Taco Bell have closed their dining rooms but are still providing drive-thru services. Dunkin’ has removed all tables and chairs from restaurant dining rooms and limiting service to drive-thru, carry-out and delivery

Coronavirus Resources

NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.