Single Store Owner

AUG-SEP 2016

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26 / Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner / AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2016 cover story challenge. Speckman's sister, who worked nearby at Koo Koo Roo restaurant, recommended he meet with a colleague of hers, Mario Olguin, who absolutely loved the location. Speckman made Olguin "an offer he couldn't refuse," and he credits Olguin for much of The Corner Deli & Grill's success ever since. "I couldn't expect myself to go in back and pre- pare sandwiches on top of all my other responsibili- ties — and I wanted everything prepared fresh here," Speckman explained. "Even though we're called The Corner Deli & Grill, we're more of a grill and less of a deli. I was talking to one of my vendors and he kept saying 'This is a great corner,' and it is. I've been told it's the third-busiest corner in the United States. I can't confirm that, but I can tell you it's a crazy corner. So, that became the name." Speckman identifies the key demo for The Corner Deli & Grill as Caucasian and Latino males. "We have a lot of working-class males — electricians, garden- ers, plumbers, construction workers — who stop in for breakfast," he said. "When we open at 6:30 a.m., there's a line." Speckman credits that to not having a lot of com- petition in the area for the breakfast dollar. "There's McDonald's and Jack in the Box, but they come here," he said. At lunchtime, Speckman's clientele switches to white-collar. "We have some big trading companies across the street," he explained. "Mostly male, but a lot of females who work around here, too. They want something quick to bring back to the office." The Corner Deli & Grill will customize absolutely anything on the menu. "If we have the ingredients, we'll make it for you," assured Speckman. "And many of our customers really customize things." In his opinion, customer service is what separates The Corner Deli & Grill from his local c-store and QSR competition. "I go by the basics: 'Hi, how are you?' 'Would you like anything else?' and 'Thank you very much!'" he noted. "It's the basics — friendly people at the counters and good service. I critique competitors all the time, and they often have a grumpy cashier who doesn't look happy at all repre- senting the business. We offer quick, friendly, polite service, quality products and a clean environment. It's no secret. And it seems to work." Taco Urbano, Batavia, Ill. Proprietor: Mario Spina Mario Spina, CEO of The PRIDE Stores, a 12-unit convenience store chain in the greater Chicago area, decided to open a single Taco Urbano in PRIDE's Batavia, Ill., site in November 2015. The Corner Deli & Grill, West Los Angeles, Calif. Proprietor: Richard Speckman Located within shouting distance of the UCLA campus, The Corner Deli & Grill in West Los Angeles has been offering food to its customers for 13 years. "I've owned the Mobil station since 1993 and had to add on space for the restaurant in 2003," recalled owner Richard Speckman. "I was tired of the same old thing in the market." Back in the early 1990s, Mobil executives cau- tioned Speckman that if he wanted to be successful in the c-store business, it was imperative to think outside the box. "Rent was increasing, so instead of just selling gas and snacks, it was up to me to develop a steady stream of revenue." That's how the idea of adding a restaurant to the footprint came to be. "I remember a group that included the No. 2 person at Exxon touring my store and asking what my plans were," Speckman recounted. "I told them I wanted to add on and start a sandwich shop. They didn't see any problem with that." Within two days, Speckman's plan was approved. But how to execute it presented an entirely different In West Los Angeles, The Corner Deli & Grill serves fresh food to Caucasian and Latino working-class males.

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