South Charlotte

Swiss Farms expanding franchise in Carolinas

When Rick Gray finally believed the caller who told him he'd won a year's worth of gasoline, he started multiplying in his head.

Fifty-two gift cards for $50 in gas each equals $2,600. Rick and his son, Ness Gray, had entered a text-to-win contest in December at Kangaroo Express and Marathon gas station on E. John Street in Matthews.

They decided they both would enter to double their chances. If one happened to win, they agreed to split the prize.

Rick stayed true to his word. The two collected their winnings the week of Jan. 9.: a basket of blue gasoline gift cards.

Father and son, who both live in Matthews, said the winnings won't cover all the gas they use in their SUV and work van, but it will help. "Gas is going to be cheap again," Rick said.

The free gasoline contest is new for Marathon, and it will not be the last, said Mike Bost, district sales manager. "There will be more," he said.

Drive-thru groceries

Groceries are going drive-through in South Charlotte.

After more than 40 years in business in Pennsylvania, Swiss Farms drive-thru grocery store is expanding along the eastern seaboard, including an initial five stores in Charlotte. The first will be in the Crown Point Shopping Center on Monroe and North Sardis roads and will open in March. The Swiss Farms drive-through-only store opened in 1968 and primarily has operated in Delaware County, Penn. Investors bought the business from the original owners in early 2000, and in 2009 designed a prototype for its drive-thru grocery store.

"We wanted to expand the brand because we felt for years they've been able to enjoy drive-through convenience and have a niche in the market place," said Rocco Fiorentino, president of Swiss Farms Franchise Company.

Mike Lang, who owns the Charlotte franchises, said the stores will sell about 800 items, including bread, milk, eggs and cereal. The store also will sell rotisserie chicken, all cooked at the store.

The Charlotte store will be the first Swiss Farms store to sell beer and wine. The store will handle four cars at a time, Lang said.

Lang said a store also will open in the Lake Norman area, and he plans to eventually have 10 or 12 stores in Charlotte.

The first Charlotte store will be open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. every day. Details: