Classic Chain Pizza Inn Gets in the Quick-Service Game

The 150-unit brand’s new Express concept is a perfect fit for C-stores, but the possibilities don’t end there.

You can’t fault any brand for wanting a piece of the C-store pie. The industry has ballooned into a $575 billion juggernaut, according to The Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing. The amount of locations increased 0.2 percent from 2016 to 154,535, and 70 percent of sales were attributed to in-store purchases. Data from NPD showed that consumers made nearly 4.9 billion visits to C-stores for prepared meals and snacks in the year ending May 2016, representing a 15 percent increase over 2010.

But here’s a lesser publicized reality: While standouts like Sheetz, Cumberland Farms, and Wawa have grown to the point where they can produce their own products and branding, the majority of C-store locations still rely on outside labels to drive food and beverage sales. In other terms, amid all the rapid growth, there is still room for the majority of the industry to upgrade.

Bob Bafundo, president of Dallas-based Rave Restaurant Group’s Pizza Inn concept, believes his brand can heed the challenge. “We feel like we can present a high-quality pizza product in a venue where maybe the customer expectations aren’t very high for quality,” he says. “If we can exceed those expectations and do a small menu very consistently well, we think we’re going to offer operators a great value and a great way to drive profitability.”

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