The Chesterfield County Dash In combines the convenience of a c-store, the speed of a QSR and comforts of a fast-casual restaurant.
 
LA PLATA, Md. –  The Wills Group announced the grand opening of the company’s convenience store concept called Dash In. But the large-format retail store offers visitors more than convenience.

Spanning 5,600 sq. ft. on 2.39 acres, the Chesterfield County, Maryland, Dash In crosses channel lines by combining a neighborhood bar and grill format with the self-service gas station and car wash layout that is familiar to consumers.

To appeal to consumers’ on-the-go lifestyles, the store stocks fresh, made-in-house grab and go menu items such as artisan sandwiches and salads, in addition to locally sourced snacks such as Good Earth Peanuts, grown in Skippers, Virginia, about one hour south of Richmond.

The bar and grill features of the Dash In store include indoor bar and communal seating, and outdoor seating. An open kitchen will prepare items from the store’s “Craveable” menu which includes Memphis pulled-pork sandwich made with slow-cooked pork in a maple brown sugar barbecue sauce and topped with caramelized onions, as well as a cranberry chicken croissant that The Wills Group noted is a customer favorite. The sandwich is made with chicken breast, dried cranberries, red onion, and a hint of lime.

“Our newest Dash In is a demonstration of our commitment to creating a store design that offers an elevated brand experience for our customers,” said Julian B. Wills, president of Dash In. “We took great care in selecting the location and creating an environment that presents a contemporary and fresh image that reflects the community. We are excited to bring our large neighborhood store concept — and all of its innovative features — to Chesterfield County.”

The Chesterfield County Dash In offers indoor bar and communal seating along with outdoor seating.
 
Dash In capitalizes on several strategies Nielsen identified as necessary to remain competitive in a saturated food retail market. In an Insight report from 2017, Nielsen noted that convenience stores have many sources for inspiration. “In the QSR realm, speed has become an essential service element,” Nielsen reported. “Convenience stores need to follow suit, ensuring that customers looking for a quick meal can get in and out swiftly.”

The Dash In concept store offers all-day breakfast, a nod to the quick-service restaurant (QSR) channel.

Nielsen also recommended restaurant-style seating, broad menus for in-store service and premium product offerings as strategies for elevating the customer experience. “Digging deeper, Nielsen data shows that subcategories like enhanced water, import, super premium and craft beer, ready-to-eat (RTE) meals, e-cigarettes, tools and housewares and sparkling wine all delivered mid-to-high double-digit sales growth for convenience stores last year,” Nielsen said in its Insight report.

Dash In acts on this strategy, for example, through a beer and wine cave that flanks the open kitchen. The store’s “crowler” program, designed to engage customers on-site and through social media, offers customers the option of a 32-oz. can to transport craft beer. The store has eight beer taps and selections will change frequently among local, regional and some national craft breweries.

The wine section has more than 90 wines; some are made at Virginia vineyards such as Barboursville and the Chateau Morrisette Winery.

“We are delighted to support the craftsmanship of local purveyors and breweries throughout the region within this new Dash In experience,” said Darleen Nascimento, director of brand marketing for Dash In. “Dash In’s commitment is to make life more rewarding for time-stretched people — we look forward to transforming necessary errands into engaging experiences.”