Waltham, Mass. — For truck driver who are constantly on the road, a sedentary lifestyle is part of the job. In addition, finding healthy food options is not always a possibility. Alltown Fresh, a convenience store and fueling station with locations in Massachusetts and Connecticut, is hoping to change that for commercial drivers and commuters alike.
“We are really setting the frontier for what convenience can be, where wellness and nourishment is not separated,” said Ryan Riggs, senior vice president of retail operations for Alltown Fresh. “I am confident by talking to drivers, we are able to see how our markets are able to cater to their demographic.”
Riggs, who has been with the company since June of 2018, said there are roughly seven iterations of the Alltown Fresh brand, four of which have a kitchen inside the building. Those four stores opened in 2019 and are located in Hamden and Waterbury in Connecticut, and in Plymouth and Ayer in Massachusetts.
Riggs said the markets do offer convenience items such as chips and drinks, but they also offer healthier products. He said the team’s goal is to cater towards food options that are much cleaner and better for commercial drivers.
Eric Slifka, president and CEO of Global Partners, the parent company of Alltown Fresh, said he saw a space in the convenience-store industry for healthy on-the-go food options and decided to launch Alltown Fresh with a goal of providing fresh, nutritious meals. Slifka said he believes no one should need to sacrifice healthy food choices for convenience, adding that with the world filled with consumers who are consistently on the go, he knew there had to be a better way.
Alltown Fresh is a new type of convenience store that offers healthy, fresh food choices and made-to-order meals — including organic, natural, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, and locally sourced alternatives.
“Those are our key pillars,” Riggs said. “It doesn’t mean everything inside (the store) is those things, but we are offering (healthier selections) for a certain demographic and guests that would like to have those options.”
While some travel centers have tried to implement healthier food options while still serving typical fast-food fare such as hot dogs and pizza, the folks at Alltown Fresh are trying to be more direct with the changes.
“Eric (Slifka) wanted to create a place where items and ingredients were all chosen carefully and used to make options that could not be found elsewhere,” said Melissa Mancini, Alltown Fresh’s social and digital marketing manager. “With the majority of the menu options and ingredients made in-house, the Alltown Fresh menu ensures that all items are made to order and contain nothing artificial.”
In addition to gas and diesel, Alltown Fresh locations offer fresh food choices, a café, bean-to-cup coffee, outdoor seating, groceries, craft beer, Wi-Fi, pet-relief areas, traditional snack options, phone-charging stations and electric car-charging stations.
While grocery stores have faced scarcity of many necessities, including produce and protein sources, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Alltown Fresh works with local farmers and distributers to maintain a steady supply chain, ensuring the stores can continue to offer made-to-order meals, meats, and vegetable options to their customers.
During the pandemic, Alltown Fresh launched curbside pickup services and offered crates of fresh produce and protein for pickup so customers could easily access fresh food.
According to Nouilati, the kitchen at the Alltown Fresh in Plymouth, Massachusetts, is the best-performing kitchen in the company’s entire portfolio.
“As many seek healthier options in this day in age, customers rave about the readily available options as well as the made-to-order meals,” she said.
“Based off feed(back) we have received, we have changed certain elements as we grew,” Riggs said. “One of the options that really resonated with people that are in the trucking profession is the wellness items from our kitchen. We have freshly made items every time, and coolers with items to purchase when the kitchens aren’t open.”
Unlike some convenience stores, Alltown Fresh does not partner with franchises for its prepared-food options, but rather uses its own employees to staff the kitchens.
“We have our own food and our own menu, and it’s a scratch kitchen,” Riggs said. “We make everything daily and fresh, and we produce on-demand food for guests.”
Sam Pierce has been a journalist for more than a decade and has written for several publications including The Trucker, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and Living Our Faith magazine. He enjoys spending time with his family including his two daughters. They like to watch movies, read books and build LEGO sets.