Loose-meat sandwich seller Maid-Rite Corp. opened its first fast-food restaurant in a Hy-Vee Inc. convenience store in Omaha, Neb., this week and said it has plans to open at least four others in Iowa and Missouri.
The convenience store shops will be about 900 square feet and offer the same menu customers find at its other restaurants, Bradley Burt, Maid-Rite chief executive told The Des Moines Register.
“We hope this will expand our market and expand our sales,” Burt said. Other stores planned next year include ones in Ankeny, Dubuque and in Gladstone and Osage Beach in Missouri. Between 1,500 and 2,000 customers frequent one of Hy-Vee’s 77 convenience stores on any given day, Burt said.
Maid-Rite fits into Hy-Vee’s business philosophy, said Tom Watson, Hy-Vee vice president of general merchandise, in a written statement.
“We each built our brands on helpful, friendly customer service, and we’re excited to work together,” he said.
Convenience store owners, who are struggling to make profits off gas sales alone, are trying to find ways to draw customers into their stores, said Jeff Lenard, a spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores in Alexandria, Va.
“Some fast-food restaurants can drive more traffic than gas does at some convenience stores,” he said. “And while they are in the store buying food, they may buy other things.”
Maid-Rite will have a sign on the outside of the convenience store. It will not have drive-through windows, however.
The Maid-Rite shops in the Hy-Vee convenience stores with seating for 25 to 30 people will all be owned by franchisees, Burt said. The initial investment will be about $150,000, compared to about $270,000 for a traditional Maid-Rite store, he said.