With QuikTrip recently opening its remodeled store at 15th St. and Denver Ave., some residents are discovering food options available to alleviate the lack of grocery stores downtown.
"We now have the bakeries and commissaries in place and the employees to service that," said Mike Thornbrugh, QuikTrip's spokesperson. "We now have the distribution. The food options are unlimited with what we'll be able to do."
The renovated store is one of three prototypes in the Tulsa area. These new QuikTrips, called Generation 3s, have been remodeled or constructed to test the success of the new design and products in various locations.
The 15th St. and Denver Ave. remodel was chosen to test the performance of the store in an urban setting, Thornbrugh said. Another Generation 3 store was opened in June on 51st St. and 129th E. Ave. to observe the store in a suburban setting, along with another store set to open in late August on Gilcrease Museum Road to study the store in a high-traffic area off of a major highway.
These 5,700 square foot prototypes are more than 1,000-square-feet larger than an average QuikTrip, leaving room for more products. The downtown location has a new tea section, with 16 flavors of tea, an area with 12 frozen drink flavors and a full-service specialty drinks section. In addition to the QTKitchens products with deli sandwiches, pastries and salads, the Generation 3s have Grab and Go products.
"If you want to pick something up, it's not immediately consumable," Thornbrugh said. "You have to take it back home and cook it.
"It's fairly limited right now -- take-home pizzas, lasagna, and tsao chicken -- but ultimately, we're going to add more and more."
These dinner options have already been a success, sparking QuikTrip to put the products in all stores. However, although Grab and Go products have become popular among downtown residents who live in an area of the city without a local market, Thornbrugh said the new store will not completely alleviate the problem.
"There is nothing downtown," he said. "We pretty much are an option for a lot of people, but I don't think we'll ever replace a grocery store. That's not who we are.
"But can we get more items for people to take home to cook and consume? Yes, we think so."
Other than new food options, the new stores also have more space for parking, with parking in the front of the store and on both sides. Additional gas pumps have been added along with patio seating along the front of the store.
Inside, a full-service specialty drink area takes up a portion of the store, where employees serve different flavors of hot and cold coffees and ice cream.
"Getting away from solely self-service was a big deal for us," Thornbrugh said.
Additional employees have been added to the stores, with an average store team including 12 to 15 employees and the new store teams having 18 to 20.
Although, depending on the success of the prototypes, changes might be implemented at other locations, Thornbrugh said QuikTrip will not venture far from what made the corporation a success.
"We're not going to abandon what we do right now," he said. "What we are is a destination for somebody who is hungry, somebody who is thirsty and somebody who needs motor fuel. But times are changing, and we know to stay in this business and be successful, you have to change with it."
Thornbrugh said the company started looking into possible changes years ago and built a model Generation 3 design in a warehouse in Tulsa two years ago. The model went through continuous changes, from its layout to its paint color.
"I don't know how many times we modified it before (the public) got to see it," he said. "We'd like to think it was a complete secret, but employees talk and people working on building it talk."
With the new design now available for the general public to see, Thornbrugh said it will take more time and more tweaking to see if the Generation 3 design is the best choice for QuikTrip.
"It's too early," he said. "We've been doing this long enough to know there's always novelty in something new. It will take a long time to really evaluate if this is working or not."
"Are sales up? Yes, big time. But to do a true comparison, it just takes some time."
The corporation has no time frame for the Generation 3s' trial period. QuikTrip has only created one of the Generation 3 stores outside of Tulsa, which is in Independence, Mo.
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