After debuting its remote travel center concept in 2020, QuikTrip has officially brought the superstore format to Chicago. Its newest location, an 8,200-square-foot site in the suburb of Bellwood, Illinois, held its grand opening on May 18.
It’s only been a week, but the community response to the new site has been fantastic, one of the store’s managers said. And if the location proves to be successful, the manager said they could even see QuikTrip — which operates around 1,000 c-stores in 17 states — opening a Chicago division within the next handful of years.
QuikTrip announced back in September that it was coming to Chicago. Along with the launch of its Bellwood travel center, which happens to be directly across the street from a Thorntons, the company also confirmed work is underway on more locations in the area, including in Lansing, Peru and Effingham.
Here’s a look inside QuikTrip’s newest travel center — and first location in the Chicago area.
A massive forecourt
Customers are immediately hit by the massive parking area as they drive up to QuikTrip’s newest facility. The lot is approximately 4.3 acres, more than triple the size of a professional football field.
The forecourt is split into two fueling canopies: one for regular cars that has 20 gas pumps, and another for trucks that includes six diesel bays.
As customers approach the store, they’ll notice an area for outdoor seating, which includes four tables and eight chairs.
All about the food
QuikTrip’s made-to-order foodservice operation, QT Kitchens, is front and center inside the new store. Like the rest of its travel centers, the Chicago location features an expanded QT Kitchens menu, offering soft pretzels, whole pizzas, customizable tacos, smoked barbecue sandwiches, cold brew coffee and frozen beverages like QT’s QuikShake.
Customers order food via one of three touchscreen kiosks just off to the side of the kitchen. They enter what they’d like on the screen, which gets directed to the kitchen staff. Customers then pick up their food at the main counter and pay at the register on the way out.
Keeping the staples
QuikTrip’s new travel center still features the standard convenience items its regular stores offer, such as an assortment of fountain and frozen drinks; freshly brewed coffee and tea; grab-and-go donuts, salads and wraps; pizza by the slice; and roller grill items. The store also includes a bevy of snacks, candy and general merchandise — such as sunglasses and hats — near two of the four entrances.
The “travel center section”
One area of the new site that is not present in a traditional QuikTrip is the “travel center section,” according to one of the store’s managers. Here, customers can purchase vehicle maintenance and protective gear they may need for long-distance travel, such as safety siphons, bungee cords, lanterns and latex work gloves.