On a Wing & a...Slider

Rutter's Farm Stores' newest foodservice options take flight with strong results

Linda Abu-Shalback Zid, Senior Editor

YORK, Pa. -- It has only been a couple of weeks, but the new "slider" offering at Rutter's Farms Stores have proven to be a winner with customers. "I'm an optimist, and they far exceeded what I thought they would hit," Jerry Weiner, vice president of foodservice told CSP Daily News. So far, Weiner said, the sliders, offered at 35 of the chain's 54 stores, have been selling at a rate of more than 10,000 a week.

The sandwiches are 2- to 2.5-inch squares, with the option of burger or chicken patties. They are served on rolls baked fresh at Rutter's daily, and customers [image-nocss] can add American cheese, pickle and onion at no extra charge.

The sandwiches, introduced in November, are individually packaged and can be ordered in quantities of one ($1.29), three ($3.39), six ($5.94) or 12 ($9.96) at a time. Weiner said the average order is for 3.8 of them, but that the company has sold a lot of 12-packs. "I expected that to come after people felt comfortable with the product, so we're selling more dozens than I thought we would start with," he said.

Weiner has been so pleased with the success that he is already looking at adding new slider options for the menu. He prefers to introduce new items two to three months apart, however, and already has items slated for early next year. He was not ready to reveal those products at this time.

"Everybody wants to try the new things, so you give it that shot and you let it settle into the consumer that wants to use it on a routine basis, or even a regular basis, and then you come out with the next new item," he said.

The company also introduced turkey wings recently, at $1.39 each. The 2.25-oz. wings, introduced two months ago, are marinated and fried, and can be ordered with original, buffalo or spicy seasoning. "I'm always looking for the unique items," Weiner said.

While he declined to give volume numbers, Weiner said turkey-wing sales have been consistent within 50 units. "It started out higher than I thought, and never came down," he said. "There's a select clientele that wants it, and they buy it religiously."

He described the wings as the second joint of the wing, which normally has two bones in it. They are served at Rutter's with one of the bones pulled out. "So what you get is quite a bit of meat, and it's all wrapped around one bone, so it eats very easily, even while you're driving, which made it user-friendly for our customers."

Weiner said the ease of manufacturing of the wings also means Rutter's can buy and sell the products at a lower price point. And because it isn't breaded, he added, "it's not going to crumble and drop all over your lap. So it had a lot of attributes that are very appealing."

Both products, like most items on the Rutter's menu, also offer cents-off gasoline when customers use their Rutter's Rewards cards: 1 cent for each wing, and 1cent for one slider; 2 cents for three sliders; 3 cents for six sliders; and 4 cents for 12 sliders.

Family-owned and third-generation managed, York, Pa.-based Rutter's operates 54 convenience stores in Pennsylvania.