Living Up to Its Name

Roaster’s Market serves rotisserie chicken and high-quality coffee in a unique environment.

Living Up to Its Name

September 2021   minute read

By: Sarah Hamaker

The most frequent comment from customers entering Roaster’s Market in Ada, Oklahoma, is “‘This isn’t what we expected from a convenience store,’” said Mike Lawson, owner and founder. “It’s a different experience that we created to wow our customers.”

Lawson put his 20 years of convenience and fuel retail experience to work when he crafted his vision for Roaster’s Market. “I like to try new things and jumped at the opportunity to build something beyond the typical Oklahoma convenience store,” he said.

The Vision

Before embarking on his own branded store, Lawson explored what the “leaders in our industry were doing. I visited several convenience store chains to gather ideas of how to offer something unique of our own.”

Those fact-finding trips helped him craft the three cornerstones of what became Roaster’s Market: food and coffee, convenience, and fuel. “We wanted our first emphasis to be on our food and coffee service—this is what really sets us apart,” he said. The very name Roaster’s came from the store’s high-quality coffee and rotisserie chicken.

On the coffee front, Lawson “wanted to compete not with convenience stores but with Starbucks and other independent coffee shops.” Roaster’s sources beans from an Austin, Texas, roastery and sells the coffee under the Roaster’s brand. Eventually, he envisions offering whole beans and ground coffee packaged for take-home sale using the same beans in its coffee drinks. The full-fledged barista service provides everything from drip coffee to craft coffee via a high-end espresso machine, which he dubbed “the workhorse of our coffee program.”

We wanted our first emphasis to be on our food and coffee service—this is what really sets us apart.

The fresh foodservice is centered on rotisserie chicken, which is sold as roasted quarters of white and dark meat. Roaster’s Market created its own rub for its rotisserie products, fresh carved-to-order turkey and even fresh roasted corn on the cob.

Other menu items made to order in the kitchen include salads, sandwiches, breakfast items and quesadillas. Leftover rotisserie chicken is repurposed into chicken noodle soup and chicken salad. “For our fresh foodservice, we choose products not based on cost first but on quality first,” he said. “We’ve seen our customers respond well to the higher quality of food we’re serving.”

Customers can enjoy their food at one of the 24 interior dining seats or 32 outdoor patio seats. “Once COVID hit, we modified our building to add an outdoor canopy to cover much of our patio area, plus added misting fans and umbrellas to keep everyone cool and comfortable in the Oklahoma heat,” Lawson said.

In addition to made-to-order food, the store has a grab-and-go section featuring many of the same menu items. “It’s a large, kidney-shaped cooler with cold grab-and-go prepackaged products that includes healthy snack items, juices, fruits and veggies,” he said.

Feature image: Roaster’s Market owner and founder Mike Lawson wanted to build something beyond the typical Oklahoma convenience store, so he visited many stores to garner ideas on what to offer his customers. Top and bottom: Foodservice at Roaster’s Market is made to order, with products chosen based on quality first. The market’s name comes from its high-quality coffee, as the store’s coffee offer strives to compete with Starbucks and other coffee shops.

Interior Vibe

Roaster’s Market also ditched traditional rows of shelves, opting instead to incorporate more wide open space to accommodate larger crowds of people waiting for their food or beverage order. “My goal was to combine the look of a Corner Market, Panera Bread or Zoës Kitchen—a warm, comfortable feeling,” he said. “That’s why we have a lot of unused space to allow people to walk around and wait.”

For music, he designed a store playlist for all ages, mixing in ’70s, ’80s and on up to current artists. “We have very fun, very contemporary music to make being in Roaster’s an enjoyable time for everyone,” he said.

The store carries that vibe into its social media, which is managed by Lawson’s daughter, Caroline Lawson, who also handles marketing. “We see a huge opportunity to reach our audience digitally through Facebook and Instagram,” she said. “We’re continuing to broaden our reach online every day.”

While Lawson continues to tweak the year-old Roaster’s Market, he’s also eyeing the future. “We’re convinced this is a very successful concept that hasn’t even reached its full potential because of COVID,” he said. “So we’ll definitely be looking to bring Roaster’s to new markets in the future.”


Bright Ideas

Roaster’s Market has embraced technology with self-checkout, online ordering and self-ordering. In November 2020, the store launched online ordering, which has brought in more than 100 new customers a month.

On site, the store has four island ordering kiosks and a fifth one by the coffee bar. Each kiosk starts by offering the customer a choice between food and crafted beverages. “Rather than list a menu, we start with the customer picking which path he wants,” said Mike Lawson, owner and founder. “The customer determines the final outcome of every menu item.”

In addition, the store has two self-checkout stations, as well as two manned cashier stations. “We were the first convenience store in Oklahoma to have self-checkout. We wanted to expedite customer time in the store, and this was one way we could do that,” he said.

See More!

Ideas 2 Go showcases how retailers today are operating the convenience store of tomorrow. To see videos of the c-stores we profiled in 2021 and earlier, go to

Sarah Hamaker

Sarah Hamaker

Sarah Hamaker is a freelance writer, NACS Magazine contributor, and romantic suspense author based in Fairfax, Virginia. Visit her online at