In LouisvilleKY, Thorntons Opens Kitchen with Pizza, Burritos

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It’s a tall order.

Our friends at Thorntons are trying to change the image of “gas-station food.” They’ve launched a new menu of items that it hopes will make you skip the drive-thru at McDonald’s and buy your breakfast and lunch at one of the 26 new-look Thornton’s stores in Kentuckiana.

Yesterday, the company invited select media types to sample some of the new goods, including the pizza and burritos. But first they filled us up on heart-shaped donuts.

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Pizza, burritos and donuts at Thornton’s

Their message is that Thorntons is a respectable place to grab a quick meal without being embarrassed about the quality of the food you’re eating or feeding your family. They even have a chef, John Woerner, who discussed how the company is hiring “food service managers” at its stores and is cooking ford all day.

The new menu looks like the staples at most fast-food stores — Cheeseburgers, Chicken Sandwiches and the infamous roller with hot dogs.

And Thorntons reps at the event, Fresh Foods Brand Manager Samantha Couch and Product Development Manager Jessica Williams, explained that the moves are paying off with a higher percentage of food sales at its newly-redesigned stores.

The business case is compelling — food has always been a lure gas stations have used to get people to come inside and spend money. The reality is that sales of tobacco are sliding, and gas prices are at record lows.

But the challenge of convincing the public that it is serving something better than “gas-station food” was revealed by one question from the crowd indicating that she had no idea Thornton’s was serving decent food. While the pizza and burritos aren’t staples for the health-conscious, there are salads and other healthy items in the stores as well.

Note: Listen to Thorntons president Tony Harris on the Rusty Satellite Show here.


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