Carrie Rengers

QuikTrip dreaming: drive-throughs, carside service and crushed ice, ice baby

QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh swears he already told us this, but we swear we would have remembered if he did.

The Tulsa-based convenience store chain is not only testing carside service, but it’s been doing it in Wichita since November.

QuikTrip stores at Kellogg and Maize Road and K-15 and 31st Street South were chosen for the tests along with two stores in Tulsa and two in Des Moines.

“To a degree, this is reincarnation of something we tested years ago,” Thornbrugh says.

The company tested a car-hop concept at a Tulsa store.

“We’re just trying to figure out if attitudes have changed since the last time we tried it 10 to 15 years ago.”

After testing it ourselves, here’s our attitude toward it: Please do it at every store.

While we pumped gas, a helpful QuikTrip employee took our very-specific phone order: an unsweetened iced tea in an extra large plastic cup filled with crushed ice to the top, a Coke Zero in a 32-ounce plastic cup filled only halfway with crushed ice and a box of Hot Tamales.

The employee made it out to our car in the pouring rain in under four minutes and before the gas even stopped pumping. She would not accept a tip.

Thornbrugh says some new signs at the test stores are causing them to have a bit of attention now.

The service is available from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Customers have to pay with credit or debit cards. For now, employees have to run back in the stores to swipe cards, but that could change in the future with pay-at-the-pump options.

QuikTrip also is testing a drive-through and a seated restaurant area at another Tulsa store.

“We’ve been looking at it for probably a couple of years,” Thornbrugh says. “We’re still learning from it.”

As exciting as carside service and drive-throughs may be — the drive-through in particular is something Wichitans have dreamed about for years — some Wichita QuikTrip customers have slightly simpler needs.

Many tea drinkers would like to know why crushed ice is not available at all tea stations as it is at all soda stations.

For instance, at the QuikTrip at Broadway and Murdock recently, one sheriff’s deputy commiserated with a reporter as they had to walk to the soda station on one side of the store to get crushed ice and then walk to the other side of the store for tea.

Thornbrugh says he has no idea why the tea drinkers are being denied handy crushed ice, but he says he’ll look into it.

“I want to make everybody happy.”

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Carrie Rengers has been a reporter for almost three decades, including 16 years at The Wichita Eagle. Her Have You Heard? column of business scoops runs five days a week in The Eagle. If you have a tip, please e-mail or tweet her or call 316-268-6340.