Taco John’s® growth strategy embraces the C-store and travel plaza segment

Posted Jan 10th, 2017

Our Mexican food brand is the perfect fit for travelers who want higher quality, convenient food

A tray featuring several wrapped tacos and burritos and 2 servings of Potato Olés®
Guests can fill up their tank, buy a lottery ticket and get a quality meal on the go when Taco John’s teams up with C-stores and travel plazas.

When the Stinker Stores chain of convenience stores was looking for a Mexican food brand to partner with, they knew it would have to dovetail with their high standards and would also have to be an established brand with a recognizable name. The 65-unit, family-owned Stinker Stores brand focuses on strong performance in a welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere, with an emphasis on guest service. They needed a brand that would be a match on every point.

Taco John’s fit that bill.

“It was important to find an organization that was highly professional, had its processes buttoned up and had a tight training plan and strong operational procedures,” says Steve Watts, COO of Stinker Stores. “Company culture was a big thing. Stinker Stores is defined by its company culture, and we wanted a company that had similar corporate values.”

After heading out to our Cheyenne, WY, headquarters and meeting with the Taco John’s leadership team, Watts and his CEO no longer had any questions. The first Taco John’s inside a Stinker Store location opened up in September 2016, and guests were very excited to welcome them to the Meridian, ID, area. Watts predicts there will be more to come.

Fans lined up around the block of a Taco John's franchise.
Fans of Taco John’s lined up around the block when our Mexican food brand opened for the first time inside one of the locations with 80-year-old convenience store chain Stinker Stores.

Mutually beneficial

By venturing outside traditional locations and partnering with travel plazas and convenience stores, Taco John’s is making the most of the opportunity to grow in a smart way with brands that match our own values. We now have 13 C-store and travel plaza locations open, with two more under construction and commitments in place for 10 more in the coming years.

“Co-locating a quick-service restaurant with a convenience store creates a natural synergy,” says Brian Clark, Executive Director of the Kentucky Petroleum Marketers Association. “With foot traffic generated from each component, convenience takes on new meaning as patrons can grab a snack, pick up lunch or dinner and fuel up all in one stop.

“The marketplace continues to change, and the symbiotic relationship created between a C-store and QSR is a smart way for owners to stay relevant in consumers’ minds — with appealing products, unique promotions and a convenient location that caters to the time-conscious consumer.”

How we support C-stores and travel plazas

Taco John’s understands the unique considerations of this segment, and we have tailored an approach to work with experienced convenience retail operators like Stinker Stores. Our experience with Stinker Stores and our other C-store and travel plaza operators have made us even more committed to this industry. Our development team will be exhibiting our plans for C-stores and travel plazas this year at three industry-specific trade shows — NATSO, NACS and M-Pact.

The Stinker Stores leadership was impressed with our responsiveness.

“The Taco John’s team was professional, timely and provided the level of support we would expect from a top-tier franchise,” Watts says. “They sent a team of people out before the store was even built, and there was a lot of correspondence with the team in terms of site layout, architecture, equipment and making sure they were doing what they could to ensure that we were on track for our target opening date.”

Stinker Stores sent a small team they hired to manage the Taco John’s location to our four-week training program, which Watts called “impressive. It’s a big investment in time, and it prepared them well.”

Learn more

To find out more about the opportunity to bring our Mexican food brand to your C-store or travel plaza, please fill out the form on this page. You can also contact Van Ingram, our Vice President of Franchise Development, at vingram@tacojohns.com or 307-421-0300.