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Growing Number of Eaters Find Convenience Stores, Um, Convenient

Grab-and-go eaters are increasingly patronizing convenience stores, a trend one market research group thinks could threaten fast food restaurants' traditional breakfast hour dominance.

"We'll see an expansion of foodservice programs and an upgrade of foodservice programs for c-stores," NPD group vice president Warren Solochek told Nation's Restaurant News, an industry publication. "In 2011, that will be growing competition for a number of quick-service operators."

Convenience store sales were up 11 percent for the quarter ending in June, Nation's Restaurant News reports.

Amanda Hunker, owner of the six-month old Big E's Food and Beverage Store in Deep Ellum, says she's happy to ride the c-store wave.

"My husband and I owned a fence company," Hunker says. "The construction business was just horrible, so we got to thinking what we could do that would just grow and grow and grow."

According to Hunker, neighbors are developing a taste for Big E's sandwiches, hot links and Frito pies.

"We're not millionaires the first six months, but we're showing signs of eventually seeing a profit," she says.

Big E's stocks beer, wine, cigarettes, coffee, ice cream and will soon offer a weekly soup special. "We tried about a month ago, but it was too hot," Hunker says of the soup's debut. Hunker and her husband Eric (aka Big E) are also planning to inaugurate delivery service for eaters who'd rather call-and-grab.

"We bought a scooter today so we can make deliveries," she says.

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