Normal Heights to get massive, hipster 7-Eleven — DIY fro-yo bar, on-tap kombucha and full taco shop
The concept store is one of only three in the U.S., with the original location opening in Dallas
Convenience store chain 7-Eleven is rolling out a concept store in Normal Heights to test out the retailer’s more millennial-friendly ideas, giving customers a lot more options for trendy, fresh, and made-to-order food and beverages
The retailer is calling these experiential locations"Evolution Stores,” and Normal Heights is the third such store in existence. The local spot is set to open “in the next month or so,” although the company declined to provide a more concrete date. The 10,000 square-foot location is at 3504 El Cajon Blvd., across the street from SPACE nightclub and Church’s Chicken.
For the record:
8:53 a.m. Feb. 28, 2020An earlier version of this story had the incorrect neighborhood for the new store. The store is on the north side of El Cajon Boulevard, putting it in Normal Heights.
7-Eleven debuted the first Evolution store last year in Dallas, which was a hit, according to the company. Now, it’s expanding the concept to two new locations: Washington D.C. and San Diego.
Each will include a fast-casual restaurant called Laredo Taco Company, which makes handmade flour tortillas in stores every day. The taco bar will have breakfast options in addition to lunch and dinner fare, along with a fresh salsa bar.
Giving shoppers a do-it-yourself experience, the Evolution stores will also have a self-serve cold treats bar with multiple frozen yogurt and ice cream options that can be swirled to create new flavors (with multiple toppings).
The store will also have made-to-order specialty drink bar, where customers can get lattes, smoothies or agua frescas, among other options. There are kombucha and nitro cold brew on tap.
These made-to-order items might be slightly higher priced than 7-Eleven’s standard fare, but the products still seem competitive to industry standards. For example, a medium Nitro Cold Brew at Starbucks runs $4.75, while the 7-Eleven concept store in D.C. charges only $3.29.
The San Diego location is also getting an alcohol section 7-Eleven calls “The Cellar,” which will include an expanded selection of wines and craft beers, with a nearby growler station that features a rotating selection of local craft beer, cider and ales on tap.
“These new stores are invaluable learning labs, where new concepts are tailored to meet the needs of the communities they will serve from sunny southern California to the fast-paced world of the East Coast,” said 7-Eleven Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Chris Tanco in a statement.
The Evolution stores are also using more technology to make ordering and checking out more seamless. The stores will have a mobile checkout option, using the 7-Eleven app to pay for their purchases and skip the checkout counter. Customers can also use the 7NOW Delivery App, which lets customers order any item from the store and get it delivered.
This isn’t the first time 7-Eleven has made an attempt to appeal to younger shoppers. A franchise store opened in City Heights last year at 4350 University Ave., touting cappuccinos, nitro cold brew, and ample fruits and veggies.
“This is something totally different than our traditional stores,” Sakimo Randall, market manager for 7-Eleven San Diego, told the Union-Tribune in July. “I think the newer aged customers, the millennials, will come in and see things they’re used to seeing at other retailers and understand that we offer that as well.”
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