Neither dine-in restaurants nor drive-thrus are commonly associated with the name 7-Eleven, but that many not be the case for long. The convenience store chain announced this week that its first-ever Laredo Taco Company restaurant with a drive-thru is open for business in Dallas, Texas. 7-Eleven purchased South Texas chain Laredo Taco in 2018 and has been slowly expanding it in stores since. This is the first time a drive-thru lane has made an appearance at a corporate-owned 7-Eleven store.
7-Eleven purchased the Laredo Taco Company, along with Stripes convenience stores, in 2018 from Sunoco. The restaurant serves up quick-service Mexican food, which customers can order either in the drive-thru lane or for dine-in seating at this new location. Alcoholic beverages are also available for those eating at the restaurant. For those driving thru, the famous 7-Eleven Slurpee is available along with enough specialty beverages to rival a Dunkin’ location.
The restaurant shares space with a new 7-Eleven Evolution Store. As its name suggests, the company’s Evolution stores are a new take on the concept of a convenience mart and a testing ground for the company’s new store formats and technologies, including restaurants. 7-Eleven currently has six of these stores open in the U.S., with three of them being Dallas.
For this newest store, 7-Eleven is also testing its mobile checkout system, where customers skip the cashier line entirely and simply pay for goods on their phones via the 7-Eleven app. Products from the store, including meals from the Laredo Taco Company, are also available for delivery.
Outside of the Laredo Taco Company restaurants, 7-Eleven has offered delivery from its convenience stores for a few years now. In 2020, the chain expanded those capabilities last year through partnerships with Instacart and DoorDash.
Meanwhile, the lines between QSR, convenience mart, and grocery store continue to overlap. Wawa also has a delivery partnership with DoorDash and has added plant-based meals and other non-convenience-store food to its roster. The concept of the “ghost convenience store,” a delivery-only mashup of a convenience store, grocery, and restaurant, has also become popular in the last year thanks to DoorDash and, across the Atlantic, delivery service Glovo.
7-Eleven will continue building out its delivery, but also has big plans for its Evolution stores. Future stores are slated to open later this year in North Texas and Manassas, Virginia, as well as other yet-to-be-named locations.