Fresh chicken tenders and cold beer have arrived in Ladson.
Parker’s, known as a convenience store chain with an in-house kitchen, has opened its ninth location in the Charleston area, making it the 69th retail location overall. The expansion will create about 20 jobs in the region.
“It’s just an ideal location because it sits on a major part of the area that straddles the border between North Charleston and Summerville,” said Greg Parker, Parker’s founder and CEO. “Our goal is to express our brand presence throughout the entire region.”
Parker said fresh food is what makes them stand out. Staff members come in at 4 a.m. to begin preparing for the day’s orders. With the technology of their smart kitchen powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence, employees can know just how many chicken tenders to make in anticipation of that day’s crowds.
The technology uses predictive analytics to check data, such as weather, traffic patterns of the day, or what business looked like a year ago to date.
“We’ve got hundreds of data sources that we’re looking at, so the data continues to clean up, and it gets better over time,” Parker said. “So our goal is that you would never eat a chicken tender that was cooked more than 30 minutes ago. Once you hit that 30-minute mark, we take it off the food bar.”
Besides chicken tenders, the store will also offer menu items such as macaroni and cheese, egg casserole, bean-to-cup coffee, freshly brewed sweet tea and lemonade, and beer always kept at 28 degrees.
These fresh food options have put Parker’s Kitchen on the national radar, as the company was recognized by Food and Wine as one of America’s Best Convenience Stores and by USA Today readers as one of America’s top 10 gas station brands. Parker’s has also been given a 2020 Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Award, which is presented to the top 10% of restaurants across the country.
“We go above and beyond, and that’s the reason why we got picked by USA Today this past year as the eighth top convenience store chain in America by a national publication,” Parker said. “How are we getting picked when we’re not nearly as big as these other companies that were selected, and the reason is because customers love what we do.”
In addition to its dining options, the new Parker’s location will also include convenience store items and fuel options, including marine fuel.
Parker said the company aims to eventually have 40 locations in the Lowcountry region and to employ more people once the difficulty of hiring during the pandemic passes.
“We’re continuing to try to find and evolve what the Charleston consumer wants,” Parker said. “We're always listening to our consumers; we’re always watching our data. We’re trying to figure out how we can be the preferred place for people to shop.”