The convenience store probably best known for the Slurpee is hoping customers will want to linger as it introduces a restaurant and cafe.
7-Eleven has debuted a new concept selling coffee drinks and smoothies at one of its Dallas-area locations, reports the Oak Cliff Advocate.
The store also features restaurant Laredo Taco Co., which came with 7-Eleven’s purchase of gas station chain Sunoco and its 1,000 locations, and a bar offering wine and craft beer that can be consumed on site or taken home in growlers.
The Dallas Morning News says the test store has been revamped with indoor and outdoor dining areas.
The Texas pilot is the first of six locations across the country that 7-Eleven is testing; others are planned for San Diego and Washington, D.C., per the Advocate. The cafe’s espresso drinks and teas will be priced between $2.69 and $3.49; customers also can order smoothies, shakes and kombucha on tap.
Related: See DFW’s top 18 coffee spots
7-Eleven operates almost 10,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada, according to The Motley Fool.
Encouraging customers to linger has become increasingly popular with convenience store and grocery chains in recent years. Convenience chains like Wawa and Sheetz offer food service and a number of grocery retailers have added bars, seating areas and made-to-order food stations, reports the Financial Post.
“If you serve convenience to consumers, you can increase margins,” Sylvain Charlebois, a professor who studies the food industry at Dalhousie University in Canada, told the Financial Post. “They want to welcome you. They want to make sure you spend as much time as possible.”
Whether customers will want to hang out in a 7-Eleven as they do a Starbucks is the question.
The pilot stores are "an important step for the chain to see if it can serve a different market, and offer an alternative to Starbucks that's cheaper while being more of a cafe than what either Wawa or McDonald's offers," per the Motely Fool.
Business Insider recently ranked 7-Eleven’s iced coffee above Starbucks, Dunkin, Peet’s Coffee and McDonald’s.
In Taiwan, a competitive retail market inspires 7-Eleven to keep offerings interesting and get customers to linger. Their locations go beyond drinks and food to include a wide range of products and services, including books, cosmetics, private-label clothing, chef-crafted holiday meals or baked goods — even a gym, reports Forbes.
Last year, 7-Eleven began testing mobile scan-and-go checkout in Texas stores and is bringing that option to more locations, per Forbes. A recent Nielsen study notes shortcuts and automation have become increasingly important to consumers.