A New Jersey convenience store chain is opening its first location on Long Island in October and envisions expanding that beachhead to as many as 20 or 30 stores in future years, an executive said Monday.
QuickChek, based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, will stage a soft launch followed by an Oct. 27 grand opening at the store on Middle Country Road in Lake Grove, said John Schaninger, vice president of sales and marketing.
Schaninger said the 24-hour outlet in Suffolk County will employ 30 to 50 people.
The chain also is seeking municipal clearance for locations in Bayport and Seaford, though further expansion will hinge on the performance of the initial stores in the market.
"We don't have a hard, set-in-stone timeline," he said.
For QuickChek's Dallas-based rival, 7-Eleven Inc., Suffolk County has been a premier market, accounting for eight of the chain's top 10 locations among 7,800 nationwide.
QuickChek, a family business whose roots stretch to a New Jersey dairy founded in 1888, has 138 stores in northern and central New Jersey and New York's Hudson Valley.
Schaninger said QuickChek sees its market within a 75-mile radius of Columbus Circle in Manhattan, and Long Island, with demographics similar to the company's New Jersey market, was a natural extension.
Jeff Lenard, spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores, said Long Island fits the convenience store model.
"You have people on the go," he said. "They're stuck in traffic. All they want is a little of their time back."
The average convenience store visit is 3 minutes, 33 seconds, he said. "We sell time."
Schaninger said QuickChek has sought to build its reputation on offering an expansive selection of proprietary coffees and foods that are prepared on-site.
In a 2014 consumer survey by Technomic Inc., QuickChek tied for top marks in beverage quality with a similar convenience chain, Wawa Inc., and edged out Wawa by 1 percentage point for the No. 1 spot in food quality.
The survey queried 2,413 respondents about 22 U.S. convenience store chains, or about 100 per chain.