Convenience stores have evolved from roadside, mom-and-pop ice houses to bustling complexes offering food, gas, car washes, and indoor dining with WiFi. Every innovation over the last century has been in response to listening to what the customer wants and taking intelligent risks. This is particularly true for our Dash In brand. 

Innovation has been at the heart of everything we do at Dash In, and our latest store launch is no exception. We recently unveiled an all-new Loudoun County Dash In store located at Gateway Village, 24755 Gum Spring Road in Chantilly, Virginia that redefines convenience retail with cutting-edge store design, architecture, and an elevated food and beverage program.

Evolving the convenience store experience is both a tradition and a pledge at Dash In. It took five years to see the new store concept come to life, and more than forty years to shape the journey. Along the way we’ve expanded our products and services, leveraged technology to improve efficiency, and adapted to cultural shifts to remain the preferred choice for customers seeking the best possible experience. 

A Retrospective

In 1979, after years of success in the motor fuels industry, we opened our first convenience store on Route 50 in Annapolis. The store was an experimental success and helped us realize new opportunities in the convenience retail sector. 

At the time, convenience store builds were on the upswing thanks to more people moving into the suburbs and needing local food stores that stayed open late. Cultural changes were reshaping the American food landscape, prompting a desire for broader choices and meals “to go.”

A couple of years later on May 1, 1981, we opened our first full-size Dash In store on Route 198 in Laurel, Maryland. This was the first convenience store in Maryland with an in-store foodservice program featuring fried chicken and potato wedges. The store’s success helped set the tone for the innovative prototype design created the following year, a design that was carried out in new Dash In facilities across the Mid-Atlantic region.

Over the years, we’ve tested several store concepts and food programs to better delight our customers. Some ideas took off, and some ideas were dropped – like the time we teamed up with fast food companies Taco Bell, Subway, and Dunkin’ Donuts until we realized that a consistent, chain-wide Dash In food program offered a better experience for our customers. 

We’ve also tested ideas that work better at select locations – like the growler and crowler program that customers loved at our Richmond, Virginia store as we focused on bringing in products from local breweries. 

Our employees are encouraged to embrace new ideas and test new concepts in the spirit of continuous improvement. Sometimes our ideas are a hit and sometimes they don’t work out – and that’s okay because we’re prepared for all outcomes. The point is that we push ourselves to try something different.

The reimagined Dash In experience in Loudoun County is completely different from anything we’ve tried before, and we believe it reflects where our brand is headed. 

The Evolving Dash In Experience

Everything about our new Loudoun County Dash In is designed to create a better experience for our local and visiting customers.

The open kitchen at the center of the store showcases a thoughtfully curated “Made For You and Fresh to Go” menu with high-quality, nourishing ingredients and signature favorites. Guests are welcome to observe our chefs at their craft and connect with the process of food made fresh. While they wait, they can enjoy a nutritious smoothie from the self-serve beverage wall.

The store’s new design also creates a chic and inviting atmosphere for dining in or out. Imagine meeting up with friends and enjoying a refreshing, blended beverage and Crispy Chicken Cobb salad. Or leisurely sipping a bean-to-cup hot coffee while responding to work emails on our patio. And for the adventure that awaits, “Fresh To Go” offerings are there for the taking. 

Our new Dash In elevates the convenience store experience, reinforcing the idea that busy lives can and should be lived in-style. 

We trace our innovative roots back to those earlier staff in 1981 who took a chance on serving fried chicken and potato wedges to the delight of customers. Since then, we’ve opened more than 55 Dash In locations throughout Maryland, Virginia and Delaware – serving our customers with good food, warm smiles, and a fresh take on the convenience store experience.

Dash In is at the forefront of this innovation, adapting to changing consumer lifestyles and taking intelligent risks along the way. Innovation is a part of everything we do, and not just from a technology perspective or from a product development perspective. It’s really an integral part of the culture here at the Wills Group.

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