- As part of its New Horizons initiative, convenience-store and truck-stop chain Pilot Company has launched its newest foodservice concept, Burrito Junction — a 24/7 Tex-Mex deli located at its travel center in Corbin, Kentucky.
- Pilot’s chef and food innovation team spent two years testing Burrito Junction’s menu, the company said in a press release. The menu features meals across all dayparts, from customizable breakfast burritos to tacos, bowls and quesadillas that can be personalized with house-made guacamole, queso, salsa and a variety of toppings.
- Several other Pilot travel centers remodeled as part of the New Horizons initiative have improved their food offerings in a response to guest feedback, receiving kitchen and fresh food upgrades.
Pilot is exploring opportunities to bring Burrito Junction to more locations while continuing to innovate its food offerings, said Jamie King, senior director of food and beverage for the Knoxville, Tennessee-based company.
"We strive to connect people and places," he said. "Food is always a great way to connect with our guests and Burrito Junction is another way for us to do just that.”
Besides adding Burrito Junction to its original travel center in Corbin, Pilot also updated five other travel centers — in Bakersfield, California; Battle Creek, Michigan; Cartersville, Georgia; Phoenix; and Staunton, Virginia — with various foodservice enhancements, such as new kitchens, grab-and-go delis, made-to-order hot and cold food items, expanded beverage selections and self checkout. In addition, the Georgia location has a fully remodeled Subway, while the one in Virginia features a renovated Arby’s.
"With every store that we remodel, we take care to make improvements that will better serve our guests and team members now and into the future," said Allison Cornish, VP of store modernization for Pilot. "It's amazing to see the transformations and to see the progress as we ramp up renovations at more travel centers across our network."
Pilot isn’t the only c-store chain with a big appetite for upgraded food operations. QuikTrip is expected to open its second gasoline-free site centered around prepared food this month, while 7-Eleven reportedly acquired Skipcart last week — a white-label delivery startup providing same-day and on-demand delivery — to compete with DoorDash.
All three moves come amid a growth period for c-store foodservice, as the industry continues to boost its fresh and prepared food offerings and compete with restaurants and grocery stores.
Pilot launched its three-year New Horizons project in March. The initiative is centered around upgrading the customer experience at 400 Pilot and Flying J travel centers. Beyond foodservice upgrades, Pilot’s enhancements include new interior and exterior lighting; the addition of more restrooms, showers and laundry services, expanded seating, new staff break rooms and electric vehicle charging stations. Pilot put $1 billion into the project, marking its largest investment in store modernization to date, the company said.