Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Place: Hardee's
Lunch: 1/3 lb Original Thickburger (no lettuce, no tomato), onion rings, Coke

Hardee's is hyping "fresh baked buns".  The new buns are baked on site, probably in the same oven they've been making fresh baked biscuits out of for years.  And they're a winner.  A HUGE improvement over the old sesame seed buns.  Soft and a little sweet.  Available on their Thickburger line (not including the "Little" Thickburgers, which still have pre-fab sesame seed buns.)  At least some Carl's Jr's are also doing these on their Six Dollar line from what I've read.  Probably the ones who also sell Hardee's biscuits at breakfast.

Now if we could just get Hardee's to replace American processed cheese with Tillamook cheddar...

People, we need to talk.  We need to talk about QuikTrip.  Specifically, the new Gen-3 QuikTrips and how you are shopping there.

QuikTrip is the greatest convenience store chain in the history of the world.  Bright clean modern stores staffed by bright clean people who, as I understand it, actually earn a livable wage.  Many make their careers with the company.  I know people at the QuikTrip down the street from my office who have been there a decade or more.  Stores are well maintained and replaced routinely.  There are no dumpy old QuikTrips that I know of anywhere.  Rows of beautiful hot dogs and other items on the roller grill.  Rows of neatly organized snacks.  And at the center of it all, an L-shaped counter with three registers where anywhere from one to three cashiers bop back and forth between stations moving customers through at a pace unrivaled by any other convenience store.  People just walk up to any of the open counter spaces and the cashiers come to you, sometimes even while processing another transaction.  It truly is...a quick trip.

QuikTrip adapts with the times and trends.  Trends lately have seen the traditional convenience store profit...gas and cigarettes...falling.  So QuikTrip and some other players have moved towards doing more things with fresh foods.  In QuikTrip's case, this has resulted in a new store design known as "Gen-3".

The new 5,700 square-foot stores are much bigger.  They're even taller to give them a grand exterior presence.  They have an expanded beverage selection...about two dozen smoothies and Freezonis (QT's version of a Slurpee) for example.  They have a kitchen, which is initially offering sandwiches, specialty coffee drinks, and soft-serve ice cream, but will likely expand significantly as the idea evolves.  The initial format, with a touch-screen order display, could become something like the MTO order system at Sheetz.  And they have a big beautiful cashier counter up front with four registers and room in between them for six to eight customers to drop their purchases on and get checked out.

And that's where my problem lies with the QuikTrip customer base.

Customers aren't doing this.  If there's one cashier, customers are now just forming a single line at his/her station.

It's like you've all forgotten how QuikTrip works, and it drives me NUTS.

The cashier will be running somebody's credit card on one machine and motioning the next person in line to come up to the next station and get checked out.  But they WON'T.  They just STAND THERE.

I think it drives the cashiers as nuts as it does me.

Tryst me, this works.  I've walked up when one guy was checking out and set my stuff down at the next station.  The cashier bops right over just like the old stores.

It's fine.


Maybe QuikTrip needs to make a video instructing people on this and play it on flat screens in the stores.

Or maybe people just need to think more.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pulled Pork

Place: Burger King
Lunch: $2 for 5 Mix-n-Match Whopper (no lettuce, no tomato) and Pulled Park sandwich, Coke

BK must have paid for half the advertising slots during last night's football game, pounding us with ads promoting the addition of the Pulled Pork sandwich to the $2 for $5 mix-n-match promo they've been doing.  So I figured I'd try the pulled pork for lunch today.

So I walk up to the counter and order.

Smiling Short Elderly Counter Girl Who's Regular Speaking Voice is Louder Than Most People Shouting With A Megaphone: "WE CAN'T DO THE PULLED PORK ON THE MIX-N-MATCH!"

Me: "But they ran an ad on the football game last night about a thousand times saying you can now."

Her:  "OH REALLY?"  *turns to drive-thru girl* "CAN WE DO THE PULLED PORK ON THE MIX-N-MATCH NOW?"

Frowning Drive-Through Counter Girl Who Could Be A Sumo Wrestler: "Yes."

Smiling Short Elderly Counter Girl Who's Regular Speaking Voice is Louder Than Most People Shouting With A Megaphone: "OH!  OKAY!  LET'S SEE IF THIS WORKS!"

She starts inputting into the register.

Frowning Counter Girl Who's Natural Facial Expression Screams 'I Don't Care About Anything': Um, just enter a stuffed."

Something on the screen appears that says "STFT/WHPR" and I'm charged correctly.  I get the sandwiches I actually ordered.  Life has once again overcome impossible obstacles.

The Pulled Pork sandwich?  Not very good.  The thing is actually compacted into something that looks like a pork patty, but it falls apart as you bite into it.  It has a Memphis-style barbecue sauce and onion.  Just not all that good to me.  Probably would have been better off going to Arby's for a Smokehouse.  I need to take one of those home for Chester Cat to try.

Cooler weather seems to have finally settled in for good.

I love October.