In 1979, the first Dash In welcomed customers to enjoy its fresh fried chicken and other convenience staples. Since then, the company has grown to more than 50 locations throughout Maryland, Virginia and Delaware. Earlier this year, the Wills Group, the parent company of Dash In, opened a brand new Dash In concept in Chantilly, Virginia.
Name of company: Dash In
Year founded: 1979
# of stores: 55+
At the Dash In concept store, the logo mimics a map marker, indicating that the store is a destination.
“Our new concept is a recommitment to our past and a celebration of our future,” said Rayma Alexander, director of corporate communications and diversity, equity and inclusion for the Wills Group. “Over the past five years, we have worked across Dash In to refresh our stores. The new store encompasses all aspects that inform how we think about innovation—this includes tangible changes to the physical environment, along with intentional choices to how Dash In approaches service for our guests.”
The company completely revamped its convenience store from the branding to the menu to the way Dash In employees work together. For example, the new Dash In brand features a script font, an updated warm color palette and a map marker logo that positions Dash In as a destination. “All of the enhancements are indicative of Dash In’s desire to be known as a destination where guests can receive a warm welcome and share in Dash In’s sense of adventure,” Alexander said.
This renewed Dash In brand reflects how the chain has evolved the store experience for guests. “The enhancements to the Dash In menu are important,” she said. “It demonstrates Dash In’s commitment to foodservice and is matched by our commitment to the customer experience and what our guests can expect.”
The menu is central to the new concept. It features a mix of made-to-order and grab-and-go items. The store continues to offer traditional items, such as salty snacks and baked goods, and features fresh-made items in those categories whenever possible. “We are listening to our customers and evaluating what they want to further support our shift toward a fresh, minimally processed type offering,” Alexander said.
The new Chantilly store also added smashed burgers—griddle-prepped burgers with several different iterations, including plant-based options. The menu includes popular items, such as Stackadillas, salads and bowls, as well as all-day breakfast. New bowl selections allow customers to pick from field greens, quinoa and tots as the dish’s foundational ingredient. The beverage selection included organic sodas via its tap-style beverage dispenser wall alongside Dash In’s bean-to-cup coffee program.
“At our all-new Dash In location, the central open kitchen is front and center so guests can see their food being prepared,” she said. “Large wayfinding signs celebrate Dash In’s renewed commitment to making it easy to do business with us.”
This newest Dash In location design also has center-store merchandising, with gondolas throughout the store lowered to approximately 50 inches tall. “We intentionally brought the gondolas down so that guests can see our offerings and easily navigate across the store,” Alexander said.
Raising the Bar
At the new Dash In location, store teams are empowered to ensure customers have the best experience possible. “For example, we ask Dash In team members to greet guests and serve as store concierges. Those team members are there to help our customers understand all of the options available to them, such as the beverage wall,” she said. “These team members demonstrate Dash In’s commitment to putting our guests front and center.”
The Wills Group’s goal over the next few years is to open at least 10 new Dash Ins per year based on what the company is learning at their new Chantilly store while accelerating decisions and operations that enhance the Dash In experience at all locations. “We believe our business thrives when we provide better experiences for our guests, each other and our communities,” Alexander said. “We’re not just in the convenience business—we’re in the business of caring for people, too.”
Dash In approaches community engagement with purpose. “Our Lives in Motion initiative is more than words—we want to help our neighbors move toward their own goals and dreams,” said Rayma Alexander, director of corporate communications and diversity, equity and inclusion for the Wills Group, the parent company of Dash In.
To that end, the Wills Group has two community engagement programs—Nourishing Children and Families and Reimagining Outdoor Spaces. “As part of this commitment, during the grand opening for the Chantilly Dash In, we honored the Dulles South Food Pantry, Loudoun Hunger Relief and Keep Loudoun Beautiful,” she said. “In addition, Dash In also recognized area schools, local first responders and youth leagues, with Dash In donating more than $30,000 to Loudoun County community partners.”
You can read more about the Wills Group’s community involvement in “A Legacy of Community Engagement” from the December 2022 issue of NACS Magazine.