Eat. Drink. Be Golden.

How a midsize Georgia retailer is reinventing its traditional convenience store model.

Eat. Drink. Be Golden.

October 2022   minute read

By: Jeff Lenard

Golden Pantry Food Stores are a mainstay in the Athens and Northeast Georgia area. The family-owned company’s 32 convenience and deli stores are go-to destinations for traditional convenience items and are well-known by loyal customers for made-from-scratch biscuits and a robust breakfast menu.

The 57-year-old company opened its first store without fuel in 2019 in downtown Athens, Georgia, called the Golden Pantry Market—a stone’s throw from the University of Georgia campus.

The Market features a retail store and inviting restaurant space for its diverse customer base. Situated in a student apartment complex, the Market serves as a pantry and kitchen away from home for its customers.

Wooden endcaps and woven baskets throughout the store accent traditional shelving units and offer a unique opportunity to display local merchandise. Smaller gondolas and a large, curved checkout area create a new experience that encourages customers to shop the entire store. Indoor and outdoor seating makes the store a destination for students and professionals in the area to sit down and stay awhile.

“Local businesses endure when they adapt,” said Katie Morris, director of marketing for Golden Pantry Food Stores. “Our goal is to evoke comfort and curiosity when customers enter our stores. Even though I’m part of the team that oversees changes in these stores, I still feel like I’m on a treasure hunt every time I go in the Market— and that’s the experience we want for our customers.”

The door handles in our new stores are bowties reminiscent of our vintage logo and marquee signs.”

Like many convenience stores, breakfast and lunch tend to be the busiest dayparts for food, while dinnertime foot traffic is slower. Golden Pantry’s solution is to make its state-of-the-art kitchen available to local chefs or food truck entrepreneurs at no charge. The company views the space as a place to foster innovation and community within the store. The rotating pop-up “Supper Clubs” are helping dinner sales and reinforce local ties to the community.


Another Golden Pantry store in Bishop, Georgia, is the retailer’s first raze and rebuild of a traditional store. The new design features a sleek new exterior, new deli items and a “biscuit theater” where guests can watch biscuits being made each morning.

Recognizing the importance of being a trusted neighborhood store, Golden Pantry designed the new c-store concept to attract new customers but still feel comfortable to longtime, loyal patrons.

Morris said the new concept lends itself to creative test-and-learns within the store. The new floor plan, open-air cooler and built-in shelving allow local businesses and creators to have dedicated shelf space that leads to browsing and a stronger connection to the community.

“Customers will continue to notice nods to our company heritage throughout our stores. The door handles in our new stores are bowties reminiscent of our vintage logo and marquee signs,” said Morris.

Golden Pantry will continue to roll out its new concepts, introducing at least three more stores in the next two years.

And while they are still available, the stores will sell Golden Pantry National Champs T-shirts that say, “33-18.” Those in the Athens area know that it references a college football team that beat the University of Alabama on January 10, 2022.

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

Jeff Lenard

Jeff Lenard

Jeff Lenard is NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives. He can be reached at [email protected].