Offering everything from salads to wraps, the Express quick-service restaurants are growing in popularity so quickly that sales are forecasted to top $20 million by year’s end.
The Exchange operates 53 quick-serve restaurants and plans to open up to 20 more this year in the Expresses.
As of July 3, sales were $7 million in the Express quick-service restaurants—a 69% increase over the same time last year.
The Exchange’s quick-service restaurants include:
39—Hunt Brothers Pizza, offering pizzas and wings.
10—J. Walken Chicken, serving grilled chicken sandwiches and more.
3—Austin Blues Barbecue, featuring ribs, pork, beef brisket, chicken and salads.
1—Chopz, with salads, wraps and sub sandwiches in line with the Exchange’s BE FIT program.
“In-store quick service restaurants (QSRs) continue to be the dominant trend in the convenience category,” said Eric Sidman, vice president, convenience channel. “Within five years, we want QSRs in the top 200 Expresses.
“Our Express stores are continually evolving to make sure Warfighters have what they need to stay ready and resilient. We are offering BE FIT options through Chopz so they can maintain healthy lifestyles, but also delivering other options that are among their favorites and always in demand.”
In 2018, on-the-go customers shelled out nearly $12 million for barbecue, chicken and pizza at Exchange quick-service restaurants. The restaurants boosted Express sales by 8% in CONUS and 11% in 2018, compared to the previous year.
Hunt Brothers makes up 40% of total Express Snack Avenue sales worldwide.
The Exchange rolled out quick-serve restaurants five years ago as the convenience-store industry began offering grab-and-go meals, starting with pizza and then chicken.
In 2013, the Exchange’s first Hunt Brothers opened in the Fort Hood Corps III Express.
Three years ago, Hunt Brothers opened at Ramstein AB, Germany—the first among 13 locations in the Europe/Southwest Asia Region.
“The Ramstein restaurant was a huge hit,” said Division Merchandise Manager David Arens. “Troops were looking for a taste of home from a brand that many of them recognized, plus the pizza was a great value compared to pizza they were getting outside the gate.”
J. Walken Chicken and Austin Blues opened their first Exchange locations in 2017 in Fort Riley’s Big Red One Express.
In January, Chopz opened its first Exchange location at Fort Sill’s 24-hour Sheridan Road Express.
To emphasize BE FIT, the Exchange plans to open 10 Chopz restaurants next year. Arens said the Chopz locations are forecasted to top $10 million in sales annually.
“We plan to keep up with growing trend of customers who want to grab and go, especially those who want BE FIT options,” Arens said. “This trend will continue to grow as convenience stores become more than places to go for just some chips and soda.”