Taco Bell is experimenting with a new concept: Adding a drive-thru for Laredo Taco Company, which shares space with the convenience retailer at one of its Evolution stores in Dallas.
The addition is a first for 7-Eleven, which has never had a corporate-owned drive-thru at any of its nearly 73,000 stores across 17 countries. The company acquired Laredo Taco Co., as well as Stripes convenience stores in South Texas, as part of its takeover of Sunoco in 2018.
7-Eleven two years ago introduced its concept Evolution store, which all include a restaurant-though the company notes “no two are alike.” The company now operates six such Evolution stores, including three in Dallas, and plans to open more in North Texas and Manassas, Virginia, with more slated for later this year.
The move has strong sales growth potential on the crest of a surge in drive-thru rates, fueled by the Covid-19 pandemic--as consumers shifted away from in-restaurant dining. And 7-Eleven is not the only company taking notice of changing food-purchase behaviors. Family Express, a Valparaiso, Indiana-based convenience and gas store chain with 75 locations, is beta testing an at-pump food ordering service that allows guests to order food from its Cravin’s restaurants while filling up.
The combination of Laredo Taco Co., which also has inside seating at the Dallas drive-thru location, and 7-Eleven means that guests can order slurpees with their taco orders.
"7-Eleven is known as a beverage destination, and Laredo Taco Company makes some of the best quick-serve Mexican food anywhere,” Chris Tanco, executive vice president and chief operating officer at 7-Eleven, said in a statement. “Throw in the convenience of grabbing a taco paired with a Slurpee drink through a drive-thru, and it's a match made in heaven."
Evolution stores are also where 7-Eleven drops its new drink ideas for testing, and its unique offerings have solidified the company’s reputation as a beverage destination. The company has also promised to continue tweaking the concept as customer feedback comes in, giving the retailer a truly innovative way to pioneer new store formats.
The Dallas drive-thru location also offers exclusive items, services and features customized to its local consumers.
"While opening the first Laredo Taco Company drive-thru restaurant with a 7-Eleven store would be exciting any time, we think customers looking for socially distanced ways to grab breakfast, lunch and dinner will really appreciate it now," Tanco said. "Soon I hope, ordering tacos and beverages for in-person get-togethers with family and friends will be the norm once again."