Kwik Trip


Quality and Consistency for an Expansive Fried Chicken Program

When you serve your customers 24/7, like many convenience stores/gas stations, it’s increasingly important to offer high-quality food around the clock. That was one of the key motivations behind Kwik Trip’s decision to offer fried chicken at its stores and to install Restaurant Technologies’ Total Oil Management system to help do it.

Kwik Trip is a family-owned company of convenience stores based in La Crosse, Wisconsin, with more than 25,000 co-workers at 600+ stores in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. The company has been offering healthy snacks, cheeseburgers, breakfast sandwiches and pizza since 2002. It recently made the decision to offer fried chicken at several of its locations.

This decision was rolled out by Retail Food Service Director Paul Servais who has been with the company for 21 years. He said, “Whatever food program we decide to roll out, my team gets it done at store level, such as our new fried food program just implemented at many Kwik Trip locations.”

Servais added, “Our hot food program been around a while and I think we’re good at it. We decided to enhance and expand that program into fried chicken in fall of 2018. Our goal was to grab the customers at lunch time looking for a two- or three-piece tender, and also help build our dinner daypart with eight-piece chicken dishes, whole birds and things like that.”

The company learned about Restaurant Technologies and its Total Oil Management system through the industry.

“As we started looking into it and asking questions of our industry peers and other people in our market, Restaurant Technologies’ name kept popping up. We started looking into it and made some phone calls. They presented, and we got it into our stores.”

Installing Restaurant Technologies’ oil management system was first tested in five stores. Once proven successful, Kwik Trip started a rollout plan to have the oil management system in every store with fried chicken by October 2020. “It was a big program,” Servais said. “We started with just five stores, and today we have over 350 using it. By October, we plan to be at over 500!”

Quality and Consistency

Servais said installing the Restaurant Technologies oil management system has helped Kwik Trip improve both quality and consistency of its fried chicken, due in part to Restaurant Technologies’ training program.

He said, “Coworkers can watch three-minute videos as they get started on a shift cooking chicken and learn a great deal about the consistency of breading, quality of oil, and things like that. We’ve used all their training materials. They even provided video for us to use in our stores to help everyone understand when to change the oil, how to filter, when to filter, and so on.”

The results were outstanding. “The Restaurant Technologies system helped us exceed expectations of how much chicken we would sell. But we’ve kept it very simple. We still believe to do fried chicken right it has to be fresh and hand breaded. You have to go through all the steps. There are no shortcuts to quality chicken.”

Operational Efficiency

When expanding its food program with chicken, Kwik Trip knew its first and foremost priority would be how it impacts coworkers.

Servais said, “That was really our first consideration. Not cost. It was more about what kind of system would last a long time, be efficient for our team to use, and be easier for our coworkers. That applied to fryers, sifting tables and every piece of equipment we needed, including oil management.”

“The simplicity of pumping the old oil out and pumping the new oil in –– and us not having to worry about it –– sold me on the Restaurant Technologies system. It’s one of those things you don’t want to have to think about. It’s just there. When you need the oil, it comes in. When you have old oil to pump out, it goes out. And it works. It’s simple and reliable,” he said.

Safety and Sustainability

The Restaurant Technologies oil management system has made Kwik Trip operations more efficient. It has also enhanced safety through less slips and falls due to grease on the floor.

“Everybody knows about the hazards of slipping or falling on fryer grease. But with the Restaurant Technologies system, safety has improved, and our coworkers love it. They were not looking forward to dumping canisters of oil in a vat outside, so when they saw how we were going to handle this, they got very excited in a hurry,” Servais said.

The system also aligns nicely with the company’s sustainability goals. “We’ve been in sustainability before it was cool –– using paper cups, less plastic in stores, concrete instead of asphalt parking lots, LEED certified toilets. And over the years, we keep making more changes. We knew that installing the Restaurant Technologies system was going to be a big part of that by helping us use less oil long-term,” Servais said.

The Results

• Quality and consistency: The Restaurant Technologies oil management system has helped Kwik Trip ensure the quality and consistency of its new, rapidly expanding fried chicken program.
• Operational efficiency: The system met the company’s objectives of being efficient for its team to use and being easier for coworkers.
• Safety and sustainability: Safety has been enhanced by reducing potential for slips and falls due to grease on the floor, and sustainability results have aligned with Kwik Trip’s goals.
• Customer service: Restaurant Technologies has delivered on building a partnership with Kwik Trip throughout implementation of the system

Overall, Servais said the company has been more than happy with the results of the Restaurant Technologies oil management system and said forming a strong partnership was key to this success.

He said, “The vendor partnership is important to us. We made it clear in the beginning that when we sit down with a vendor, we want them to be partners with us. We want to work together, be honest with each other and have a good relationship. Restaurant Technologies delivered on that and it makes me feel good that we went down the right path. Establishing long-term relationships is very important to us.”

“Our goal was to have fried chicken in every store so we can market it companywide and Restaurant Technologies has been instrumental in helping us get that done.”