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