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Convenience store operator 7-Eleven announced this week the opening of a new Dallas store that it describes as “a lab store and an experiential testing ground, where customers can try and buy the retailer’s latest innovations in a revolutionary new store format.”

COO/president Chris Tanco says that “this new lab store will serve as a place to test, learn and iterate new platforms and products to see what really resonates with customers and how we can use those learnings to influence future store designs.”

One of the big innovations in the new store, according to the company: It is “the first 7-Eleven location to incorporate the Laredo Taco Company taqueria … Laredo Taco Company is famous in South Texas for its handmade tortillas made from scratch in stores every day as well as its popular salsa bar with on-site, daily prepared salsas, guacamole and pico de gallo. Tacos, quesadillas and plate meals include specialties not always seen in quick-serve Tex-Mex restaurants such as carne guisada, barbacoa, picadillo bistec, carnitas and breakfast tacos made with hand-cracked eggs.”

The taco bar also has indoor, bar and patio restaurant-style seating.

The store also features made-to-order coffee drinks, cold-pressed juices, smoothies and agua frescas” as well as “novelty beverages on tap such as nitro cold brew, kombucha and organic teas.” And it has Scan & Pay technology “that allows customers to skip the checkout line and pay for their (non-age-restricted) purchases on their smartphones.”
KC's View:
I don’t know about you, but when I read the description of the Laredo Taco Company, I immediately got hungry. If the experience lives up to the description, then it seems to me that 7-Eleven may have itself a winner.

It also strikes me that this kind of experience - if it moves beyond the lab phase and the Texas borders - is precisely why food retailers ought to be concerned about convenience stores with the ambition to transcend their roots. A lot of us would go anywhere for a great, mouthwatering taco … the name on the door or the type of format doesn’t really matter much.