QuikTrip expands fast-dining options with QT Kitchens

08/07/2014 11:10 AM

08/13/2014 12:34 PM

Back in 2007, Wichita QuikTrip stores were remodeled to accommodate big rolling cookers laden with hot dogs, corn dogs, egg rolls and all manner of fried delicacies.

Hungry Wichitans on the run thought they had it made.

About a year later, new display cases full of fresh, piled-high deli sandwiches, salads, fruit cups, veggie trays and yogurt creations appeared. No longer was it necessary to make two separate stops for lunch and gas.

How could it get any better?

QuikTrip, which has 37 stores in the Wichita area, began answering that question earlier this year by adding a new line of hot foods, coffee drinks, fresh-made shakes and ice-cream treats to its list of offerings – and somehow doing so in the stores’ existing space. (Though in some retrofitted QTs, the kitchen area gets pretty congested and chaotic, especially over the lunch hour.)

So far, 21 of Wichita’s QuikTrips have begun operating their new QT Kitchens. The remaining 16 will have their kitchens operating by the end of the year, said Laurie Roberts, a spokeswoman for the Tulsa-based chain. The latest QuikTrips to open their kitchens include Douglas and Washington and the new Generation 3 store that just opened at 37th St. North and Rock Road.

The new QT Kitchens offerings don’t fall in the category of health food, but the hot, fresh-made concession-stand type items stand up to fast food competitors.

The offerings include a list of toasted sandwiches served on crunchy, buttered bread with fillings such as bacon with American and cheddar cheeses or BLT with cheese. They run between $2.49 and $3.99.

Personal pizzas ($4.99) come in pepperoni, cheese, supreme or build-your-own. Slices to go also are available after 10 a.m.

The kitchens offer three soft giant pretzels – classic, Parmesan and cinnamon sugar – each for $2.49, and cheese or marinara sauces are an extra 49 cents. It also sells three flatbread sandwiches: chicken, bacon and ranch; spicy barbecue steak; and chicken quesadilla ($2.99-$3.99).

Customers also can now get coffee shop style drinks, including lattes, mochas, espressos, Americanos and frappes ($2.79-$3.49). There are real-fruit smoothies in strawberry, banana, mixed berry and mango peach for $3.49, as well as frozen lemonade for $2.89.

Ice cream treats include soft-serve, “Twisters,” which are like Dairy Queen Blizzards and cost $2.89 to $3.29, and fresh-made milkshakes are $3.49. Throughout August, the kitchens are serving a much-discussed bacon milkshake, a super-sweet concoction with maple flavoring and tiny shreds of bacon.

I’ve tried several items, and while some are better than others, the kitchens are a nice addition. The frappe, for example, stood up well to a Starbucks Frappuccino and costs less. Same with the iced latte, which wasn’t as rich as some lattes I’ve had but still tasted good for the price.

The pizza produced by the QT Kitchen is a little greasy to make everyday consumption a good idea, but the crust is thick and bready and the pizza is absent of any off-putting freezer burn flavor typical of convenience store pizza.

People are nuts about the QT Kitchen pretzels, and they are good, though if you get them with butter, they’re dripping. The next time I order one, I’d ask for light or no butter.

The breakfast sausage kolache featured a sweet dough wrapped around a hearty piece of link sausage and had a great flavor. The toasted sandwiches are tasty, too, though the bread is quite buttery. I’m not crazy about the flatbread sandwiches, which taste fine though are too small to satisfy a typical appetite but too big and caloric to eat two. If you order one, I advise paying the extra 69 cents to have fresh lettuce and tomato added.

The ordering system is new for QuikTrip customers but utilizes the self-serve, touch-screen concept that’s becoming popular at more and more fast food restaurants. Customers order their QT Kitchens items at a touch screen, which then spits out a receipt. They take the receipt to the regular cash register, pay, then go retrieve their food when it’s ready. This works beautifully, and it’s pretty fun to punch the buttons. Each kitchen has two touchscreens, though you may have to wait to use one depending on the crowd.

The convenience store chain introduced the kitchens, said Wichita division manager Terry Williams, because it wanted to provide good food for its customers. The company also is looking to fill a financial gap left by declining gasoline and cigarette sales, he said.

“This is a win for our customers and a win for us,” he said.

The kitchen hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, which means the hungry, post-bar crowds still will have to settle for the fried delicacies on the rollers.

Wichita has been a test market for the kitchens, Roberts said, but it plans to have them operating in all of the chain’s 700-plus stores by the end of the year.

QuikTrip stores with QT Kitchens

The following QuikTrip stores already have their QT Kitchens up and running:

12825 E. 21st St.

7991 E. 37th St. North

750 S. Broadway

5611 S. Broadway

11223 E. Central

1112 W. Douglas

625 S. Hillside

2801 S. Hydraulic

14402 E. Kellogg

1500 S. Maize Road

3945 S. Meridian

2510 W. Pawnee

110 S. Rock Road

2106 S. Rock Road

1532 S. Seneca

242 S. Tyler

1620 S. Webb

324 S. West

2801 N. Rock Road, Derby

1430 Nelson Drive, Derby

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